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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 and Stanford's Hoover Institution. 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 800+ episodes are available in the archive. Go to EconTalk.org for transcripts, related resources, and comments.
817 Episodes
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We undervalue our sense of hearing and we under-appreciate the impact sweet sounds and disturbing noises have on our well-being. Neuroscientist Nina Kraus of Northwestern University talks about her book, Of Sound Mind. Kraus argues that our listening affects our minds and brains in ways we ignore at our peril.
Stuntman and action designer Eric Jacobus joins EconTalk host Russ Roberts for a no-holds-barred discussion of the biological basis for violence and how to avoid the worst of it, the value of violence as spectator sport, and the vast superiority of duels to feuds--Alexander Hamilton notwithstanding.
Author and economist Emily Oster of Brown University talks about her book, The Family Firm, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Oster argues that running your family life the way you'd run your own business makes for a better family in today's crazy world. And where possible, the myriad of decisions you make should be based on hard data, at least when it's available.
Of all the scenarios that keep astrophysicist Sandra Faber up at night, it's not the Earth's increasing volcanism, the loss of photosynthesis, or even the impact of a massive asteroid. Rather, it's the collapse she's certain will result from the unbridled growth of the world's economies. Join Faber and EconTalk host Russ Roberts as they explore what the most inexorable law of physics has to do with economics and whether the world's growing economies pose a problem or provide the solution for the finiteness of planet Earth.
Philosopher Jennifer Frey of the University of South Carolina talks about the state of the university in American education. Frey urges a stronger focus on virtue and human flourishing and a reduced focus on career preparation. Roberts, despite his sympathy with the examined life, challenges the virtue of philosophical enquiry. At the end of the conversation, both guest and host defend philosophy.
Author and psychologist Paul Bloom of the University of Toronto talks about his book, The Sweet Spot, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bloom argues that suffering is underrated--suffering is part of happiness and meaning. This is a wide-ranging discussion of popular culture, religion, and what we hope to get out of life.
Journalist and author Rowan Jacobsen talks about his book Truffle Hound with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This conversation has nothing to do with chocolate. It's about the strange world of underground fungi, found in the forest by specially trained dogs and used by chefs and home cooks around the world. You will learn about truffle oil, cooking with truffles, truffle hounds, and the economics of all of the above.
Author and journalist Sam Quinones talks about his book, The Least of Us, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Quinones focuses on the devastation caused by methamphetamine and fentanyl, the latest evolution of innovation in the supply of mind-altering drugs in the United States. The latest versions of meth, he argues, are more emotionally damaging than before and have played a central role in the expansion of the homeless in tent encampments in American cities. The conversation includes an exploration of the rising number of overdose deaths in the United States and what role community and other institutions might play in reducing the death toll.
Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about improving government regulation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kling suggests ways to improve the administrative state--the agencies and regulatory bodies that often write the regulations that they enforce. The conversation concludes with Kling's idea for holding public intellectuals accountable for their pronouncements.
Author and economist Noreena Hertz of University College London talks about her book, The Lonely Century, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hertz blames social media and the individualist, pro-capitalism worldviews of leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan for the rise in loneliness in the developed world. Russ suggests some alternative causes. The result is a lively conversation about understanding and explaining social trends.
Economist and author David Henderson talks about his book (co-authored with Steve Globerman) The Essential UCLA School of Economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Much of the conversation focuses on the work of Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz, who both saw economics as a powerful tool for understanding human behavior and how the world works.
Author and Microsoft executive Glen Weyl talks about radical reforms of capitalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Weyl is worried about the concentration of corporate power, especially in the tech sector. But rather than use the traditional tools of antitrust, he has a more radical strategy for reorganizing corporate governance entirely.
Author and journalist Johann Hari talks about his book, Lost Connections: Why You Are Depressed and How to Find Hope, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hari, who has suffered with depression as a teenager and an adult, offers a sweeping critique of the medical establishment's understanding of depression and the frequent reliance on pharmaceutical treatments. Hari argues that it is our lost connections with each other, with our work, and with ourselves that explains the rise in depression in recent times.
Historian Bret Devereaux of the University of North Carolina talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about our understanding of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Devereaux highlights the gap between the reality of Greece and Rome and how they're portrayed in popular culture. The conversation focuses on the diversity of ancient Rome and the military prowess of Sparta.
Law professors Michael Heller and James Salzman talk about their book, Mine! with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Heller and Salzman argue that ownership is trickier and more complicated than it looks. While we tend to think of something as either mine or not mine, there's often ambiguity and a continuum about who owns what. Salzman and Heller explore a wide and surprising range of property rights from everyday life. The conversation includes a discussion of the insights of Ronald Coase on the assignment of property rights when rights conflict.
Journalist and author Nicholas Wapshott talks about his book Samuelson Friedman with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson were two of the most influential economists of the last century. They competed for professional acclaim and had very different policy visions. The conversation includes their differences over the work of Keynes, their rivalry in their columns at Newsweek, and a discussion of their intellectual and policy legacies.
Author and economist Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues--and the flaws--of free markets. Munger says the best argument for a free market approach is not that it's perfect but that it's better than anything else we've been able to come up with over the centuries. Better at bringing people out of poverty, better at promoting wealth creation, and better at pushing up the standard of living for most of the people, most of the time. Topics include what exactly is a free market, why specialization is so important, the case for case-by-case intervention, and the challenge of picking the prettiest pig.
Economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago talks about inequality and economic mobility with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on research on inequality in Denmark with Rasmus Landerso, Heckman argues that despite the efforts of the Danish welfare state to provide equal access to education, there is little difference in economic mobility between the United States and Denmark. The conversation includes a general discussion of economic mobility in the United States along with a critique of Chetty and others' work on the power of neighborhood to determine one's economic destiny.
Journalist and author Michael Easter talks about his book The Comfort Crisis with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Easter thinks modern life is too easy, too comfortable. To be healthy, he says, we need to move out of our comfort zones and every once in a while try to do something, especially something physically demanding, that we didn't think was possible. Easter discusses rising levels of anxiety and depression in the West and why taking on challenges can be part of the solution.
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Comments (103)

Prabhat kumar

So much pretension...this guy talks like Donald Trump

Oct 21st
Reply

Dan Kaiser

Reminder that George Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose. No autopsy evidence of suffocation.

Oct 11th
Reply (1)

Reza Gholi

how do yo feel working in an apartheid system?

Jul 10th
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Prajay Maganlal

this was such a great episode

Mar 19th
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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
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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
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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
Reply

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
Reply

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
Reply
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