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Author: Russ Roberts

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EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious is an award-winning weekly podcast hosted by Russ Roberts of Shalem College in Jerusalem. The eclectic guest list includes authors, doctors, psychologists, historians, philosophers, economists, and more. Learn how the health care system really works, the serenity that comes from humility, the challenge of interpreting data, how potato chips are made, what it's like to run an upscale Manhattan restaurant, what caused the 2008 financial crisis, the nature of consciousness, and more. EconTalk has been taking the Monday out of Mondays since 2006. All 750+ episodes are available in the archive. Go to EconTalk.org for transcripts, related resources, and comments.
779 Episodes
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Leon Kass, long-time teacher of classic works at the University of Chicago and now Dean of Faculty at Shalem College in Jerusalem, talks about human flourishing with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on an essay from his book, Leading a Worthy Life, Kass gives a broad overview of Aristotle's ideas on how to live. This episode also discusses the listeners' votes for their Top 10 EconTalk podcast episodes for 2020.
Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about human wants and desires with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Human beings have desires about our desires. Can we change what we want? And how should economists and normal human beings think about doing the right thing, what we often call morality? Is acting morally self-interested behavior or is it possible to act selflessly?
Would the impact of the pandemic have been different if government and policymakers had been more open to more market-based responses and less committed to a top-down approach? Economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pandemic and the policy response. Cochrane believes outcomes would have been much better if governments, in the United States and elsewhere, had embraced approaches that relied more on market forces.
Poet and author Dana Gioia talks about his book Studying with Miss Bishop with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They talk about the craft of being a poet, the business world, mentorship, loss, why poetry no longer seems to matter, and how it might begin to matter again.
Lamorna Ash talks about her book Dark, Salt, Clear with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ash leaves London and moves to the small fishing village of Newlyn, near where her mother grew up on the Cornish coast. In Newlyn, everything revolves around fishing. Ash gets herself a bunk on a trawler and quickly learns how to gut fish with sharp knives on a rocking boat in the middle of the night. And so much more.
Author and psychologist Michael McCullough of the University of California, San Diego talks about his book The Kindness of Strangers with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McCullough traces the history of human empathy and tries to explain why we care about the welfare of people we don't even know.
Author Scott Newstok of Rhodes College talks about his book, How to Think Like Shakespeare, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Newstok draws on Shakespeare and other great writers and thinkers to explore the nature of education and the life well-lived.See also the Transcript/Highlights and Delve Deeper/Additional readings materials --all available at econtalk.org.
Economist and author Gary Shiffman of Georgetown University talks about his book, The Economics of Violence, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shiffman argues that we should view terrorism, insurgency, and crime as being less about ideology and more about personal expression and entrepreneurship. He argues that approaching these problems as economists gives us better tools for fighting them.
Don Boudreaux on Buchanan

Don Boudreaux on Buchanan

2021-01-1101:16:181

Economist and author Don Boudreaux of George Mason University discusses the life and work of the economist James Buchanan with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his work creating and developing public choice--the field which applies the tools of economics to politicians and political behavior. After discussing the importance of public choice, Boudreaux and Roberts focus on two contrarian articles of Buchanan's where he argues for the importance of markets and life as processes rather than problems to be solved analytically.
Author Matthew Crawford talks about his book Why We Drive with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation is about driving but also much more: how human beings interact with technology and what we gain and give up when we embrace technology driven by corporate profit-seeking.
Author Michael Blastland talks about his book The Hidden Half with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Blastland argues that the deeper you delve into science, medicine, astrophysics--pick a topic--the more you realize there is a lot we don't understand. Things we can't explain. Blastland believes we would all do well to admit that and stop pretending that everything is knowable and every problem solvable.
Economist and physician Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bhattacharya, along with Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, authored The Great Barrington Declaration, which advocates a very different approach to fighting the pandemic than current policy and practice. Bhattacharya and his colleagues argue the best way to reduce overall harm is to focus protection efforts on those most at risk, while allowing low-risk populations to return to a more normal way of life. Bhattacharya argues that we have greatly neglected the costs of lockdown and self-quarantine.
Why is affordable housing in such short supply? Author and political scientist Katherine Levine Einstein of Boston University talks about her book Neighborhood Defenders with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Einstein focuses on the ability of local residents to use the zoning and permit process to prevent development of housing or to reduce the amount of housing that can be built.
Author and economist Branko Milanovic of CUNY talks about the big questions in economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Milanovic argues that the Nobel Prize Committee is missing an opportunity to encourage more ambitious work by awarding the prize to economists tackling questions like the rise of China's economy and other challenging but crucial areas of scholarship. In the conversation, he lays out what those questions might be and discusses what we know and don't know in these areas.
Emily Oster on the Pandemic

Emily Oster on the Pandemic

2020-11-3001:04:26

Economist and author Emily Oster of Brown University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenge of reopening schools in a pandemic. Oster has been collecting data from K-12 schools around the country. Her preliminary analysis finds little evidence that schools are super-spreaders of COVID. She argues that closing schools comes at a high cost for the students with little benefit in reducing the spread of the disease. The conversation ends with a discussion of parenting.
Daniel Haybron on Happiness

Daniel Haybron on Happiness

2020-11-2301:24:011

Philosopher and author Daniel Haybron of St. Louis University talks about his book, Happiness, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Happiness turns out to be a little more complicated than it sounds. Haybron discusses the good life and different philosophical perspectives on how to achieve happiness.
Author and journalist Virginia Postrel talks about her book The Fabric of Civilization and How Textiles Made the World with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Postrel tells the fascinating story behind the clothes we wear and everything that goes into producing them throughout history. The history of textiles, Postrel argues, is a good way of understanding the history of the world.
Author and economist Steven Levitt is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and host of the podcast "People I (Mostly) Admire." He is best known as the co-author, with Stephen Dubner, of Freakonomics. The book, published in 2005, became a phenomenon, selling more than 5 million copies in 40 languages. Levitt talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book's surprising success, the controversy it generated, and how it shaped his career. Levitt says, for him, "economics is about going into the world and finding puzzles and thinking about how understanding incentives or markets might help us get a better grasp of what's really going on."
Rob Wiblin, host of the 80,000 Hours podcast, interviews EconTalk host Russ Roberts about charity, the reliability of data to inform decision-making, and utilitarianism.
Author and journalist Fredrik deBoer discusses his book The Cult of Smart with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. DeBoer argues that there is little that can be done to change the distribution of success in K-12 education. He argues that educational reforms like charter schools and No Child Left Behind are doomed to failure. At the end of the conversation, deBoer, a self-described Marxist, makes the case for a radical re-imagining of the U.S. economy.
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Comments (98)

Dan Kaiser

Sounds like a good book for elementary school age kids who are still learning that "Not all X people are X problem."

Feb 23rd
Reply

Dan Kaiser

Any person who unironically uses the term latinx does not speak for the latino community and should be dismissed entirely. Also note Katherine's blatant racism in that every white neighborhood needs to subsidize homes for blacks, but all black neighborhoods need the right to prevent whites from moving in. As well as her extremely racist assertion that low income housing is synonymous for housing for blacks.

Dec 21st
Reply

stinky rex

I'm going back to the beginning of the archives and listening to every episode. the Munger ones are my favorites. irs like I'm in the room watching two old friends chat. excellent episode!

Dec 9th
Reply

Paola Montes De Oca

you guys are asking all the right questions

Nov 20th
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Paola Montes De Oca

I wish humans behaved as smart at they could. fkn disinformation

Nov 20th
Reply

Paola Montes De Oca

how is this a hot theme? humans are much more symplisymt

Nov 20th
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Paola Montes De Oca

this blows my mind

Nov 20th
Reply

Dan Kaiser

Freakonomics is a shell of what it used to be. All they do now is pander to progressives and push thoroughly debunked myths like the wage gap.

Nov 11th
Reply

stinky rex

hands down the best episode of the year!

Oct 23rd
Reply

Simon H

I just loved this discussion.

Oct 22nd
Reply (1)

Eva

My first listen to the Econtalk podcast. What a fantastic and fascinating discussion. I will now be getting several more books I'd never thought to buy had I not listened to this podcast episode! The interviewer is talented and navigates the conversation skillfully rapidly building a rapport with the speaker and really gives him a chance to shine. A pleasure to listen to, thank you.

Oct 21st
Reply

Simon H

Loury got the best of this discussion I think. Really good podcast

Aug 15th
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Atanas Kotov

Idealistically very wholesome, but she contradicts herself a lot on her stance on government-private sector partnership.

Aug 5th
Reply

Jeremy J. Moran

x22222211

Aug 3rd
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rick silverman

Listen to this woman parlay her political ideals (leftist) by attacking charter school, when I look at the rich administrators that live in the wealthy suburbs. I think that her husband being a principal in a public school system is a conflict of interest. Listen, my wife, in her 50s, has had an impossible time getting her bachelors and certification in teaching. It is ridiculous that my wife had 20 years teaching in preschools, but can't teach in the public school system. This is pure fascism versus freedom of choice, school choice, she blames the failure of the public school system on religion, freedom and lack of educated teachers. Black parents are the biggest proponent of charter schools. This Diane Ravotch is all about a godless agenda to protect her high paying union jobs where school administrators are destroying inner city public schools. Her and her ilk need to be cancelled. https://youtu.be/PyBUlSrIOh4

Jul 16th
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Alan

Listening to Russ try to learn about video games sincerely made me happy. He seemed excited to learn about how gaming worked and in game economics and compare them to real world!

Jul 15th
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L Jenkins

Wow, he’s a great interviewer

Jun 29th
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stinky rex

if i had played the drinking game i would be hammered right now. Russ definitely pushed back!! it's good to hear a different perspective on the school choice issue. and a welcome distraction from the pandemic news!

Jun 22nd
Reply

Michael

Love Econtalk...and not sure if Russ is helping to stimulate the conversation by playing the other side - if he is he is doing a very convincing job

Jun 21st
Reply

stinky rex

Russ mentioned the prairie! drink!!! beautiful episode. added the book to my library wish list.

Jun 8th
Reply
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