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People I (Mostly) Admire

Author: Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher

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Steve Levitt, the iconoclastic University of Chicago economist and co-author of the Freakonomics book series, tracks down other high achievers and asks questions that only he would think to ask. Guests include all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, WNBA champion Sue Bird, Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui, and neuroscientist/actress Mayim Bialik. People I (Mostly) Admire is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.
106 Episodes
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Neil Shubin hunts for fossils in the Arctic and experiments with D.N.A. in the lab, hoping to find out how fish evolved to walk on land. He explains why unlocking these answers could help humans today.   
97. How Smart Is a Forest?

97. How Smart Is a Forest?

2023-01-2101:00:096

Ecologist Suzanne Simard studies the relationships between trees in a forest: they talk to each other, punish each other, and depend on each other. What can we learn from them?
The mathematician and author sees mathematical patterns everywhere — from DNA to fireflies to social connections.
When Freakonomics co-authors Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner first met, one of them hated the other. Two decades later, Levitt grills Dubner about asking questions, growing the pie, and what he learned from Bruce Springsteen. 
From baseball card conventions to Walmart, John List has always used field experiments to say revolutionary things about economics. He explains the value of an apology, why scaling shouldn’t be an afterthought, and why he moved to the private sector to stay at the forefront of science. 
Former professional poker player Annie Duke has a new book on Steve’s favorite subject: quitting. They talk about why quitting is so hard, how to do it sooner, and why we feel shame when we do something that’s good for us. 
Author and YouTuber John Green thought his breakout bestseller wouldn’t be a commercial success, wrote 40,000 words for one sentence, and brought Steve to tears.
The ethologist and conservationist discusses the thrill of observing chimpanzees in the wild, the value of challenging orthodoxy, and why dying is her next great adventure.
The philosopher known for his rigorous ethics explains why Steve is leading a morally inconsistent life. 
Stanford professor Carolyn Bertozzi’s imaginative ideas for treating disease have led to ten start-ups. She talks with Steve about the next generation of immune therapy she’s created, and why she might rather be a musician.
Heeding the warnings of public health officer Charity Dean about Covid-19 could have saved lives. Charity explains why she loves infectious diseases and why she moved to the private sector. 
The documentary filmmaker, known for The Civil War, Jazz, and Baseball, turns his attention to the Holocaust, and asks what we can learn from the evils of the past.
Harvard economist Raj Chetty uses tax data to study inequality, kid success, and social mobility. He explains why you should be careful when choosing your grade school teachers — and your friends. 
Philosopher Will MacAskill thinks about how to do as much good as possible. But that's really hard, especially when you're worried about humans who won't be born for many generations.
Victoria Groce is one of the best trivia contestants on earth. She explains the structure of a good question, why she knits during competitions, and how to memorize 160,000 flashcards. 
The author of Sapiens has a knack for finding the profound in the obvious. He tells Steve why money is fiction, traffic can be mind-blowing, and politicians have a right to say stupid things in private.  
When she's not rescuing chickens from coyotes, Susan Athey uses economics to address real-world challenges — from online ad auctions to carbon capture technology.
Khan Academy founder Sal Khan returns to share his vision for a new way to learn — and the conversation inspires Steve to make a big announcement.
Astronomer Jill Tarter spent her career searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. She explains what civilizations from other planets could teach us about our own future.
Game theorist Barry Nalebuff explains how he used basic economics to build Honest Tea into a multimillion-dollar business, and shares his innovative approach to negotiation. 
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Comments (27)

Claire Losterbien

Love this song! I first heard about this song at https://chi-nese.com/

Feb 3rd
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Purchased

can you guys please do that math appreciation class and put it on coursera thanks

Jan 7th
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Dec 17th
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Dec 10th
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Nov 28th
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Nov 28th
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Ryan Schaub

everyone should listen to her very real take on these issues.

Aug 13th
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Venus Mohammadi

Great Conversation👌 I hope I heard from Yuval Harari again in this podcast❤

Aug 3rd
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Ryan Schaub

I would like to see these guns with such expanded capabilities the guest describes. Shooting up to a thousand people? If anything, relative to the growth of other technologies - firearm developments are ridiculously slow and archaic.

Apr 25th
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Andrew Conor

Wow. Severely disappointed in Steve and his sheer ignorance in this episode. Steve says he doesn't understand why we need 3,000 warheads and concludes "that pretty much tells you that the people who are in charge of this are not acting very logically." Why? Because you don't understand their decision it must be the wrong decision? All these military minds who have spent their lives studying our enemies and nuclear war and then Steve comes along and thinks he knows better. C'mon man. Let's think of it this way. Let's say I do a podcast where I explain how much damage a single bullet can do to a human body. It is devasting! So then I say "I don't understand why a police officer needs more than one bullet." People would know that I'm not being very logical and not understanding the reality of a firefight. Especially if I followed it up with "Look a cop has all these other conventional weapons that would help them win a fight. Why do they even need a gun?" I'd be a real moron to go around with this theory about weaponry. And that is Steve and his guest in this episode. I don't know if she's actually as ignorant as he is on the subject or if she's just playing to her audience. But if she doesn't understand things better than THAT, I can't imagine she'll ever succeed at her goals of getting rid of nuclear weapons. Really depressing episode to listen to and makes me question a lot of other episodes of this podcast.

Apr 19th
Reply (2)

Andrew Conor

Wow... where to even start? My mom was a stay at home mom and she would laugh her butt off if someone told her she was "unequal" to my father because she wasn't bringing in a paycheck. Her work was invaluable and quite rewarding. So, not sure why they're talking about child rearing and domestic work like it's the least valuable thing a person can do. Also, had to chuckle when she said that the difference in type of job can only account for 25-30% of the wage gap and he was like "that's a tiny amount! Barely noticeable!" And then when are said discrimination only accounts for about 20%...*crickets* But I applaud her for being honest about it.

Dec 29th
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Andrew Conor

Jared has the weirdest speaking voice I've ever heard. He sounds more like a wacky character in a show than a real person. But I suppose it makes sense his pronunciation would be unusual after the places he has lived.

Dec 27th
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Jester Fajardo

Great insight and awe inspiring of her character and life story.

Dec 16th
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Mack Bawden

I really appreciate Nathan's work on nuclear energy. it's comforting to know there are practical steps that can move us towards 0 emissions. I'm so fascinated by Modernist Cuisine. I've checked so many libraries, I just wish it was more accessible.

Jul 1st
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Heidi Adams

Please study the Bible further taking into account cultural norms of the time. It will help you to understand it better.

May 23rd
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Beth Snowy

Is the Task Tackler App available for download?

Apr 4th
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David

you do have some really terrible ideas...I hope they never get implemented, Steve.

Mar 4th
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Kim Hawko Vitiello

I'm halfway through this podcast episode and still have no clue who this man is or why he won a Nobel.

Mar 3rd
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Sveta Mobile

Very interesting, thanks!

Mar 1st
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