If Life Is Random, Is It Meaningless? (with Brian Klaas)

EconTalk | 22 January 2024 | 1h 00m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Brian Klaas about his book Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters. Cites examples of chance events profoundly shaping both society and individual lifes. Argues that recognizing the randomness of everyday life and history can lead to a newfound appreciation for the meaning of every decision, and to a focus on joyful experimentation instead of relentless optimization.

See also The Prospect Interview about his earlier book Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us

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Can a Nation Plunder Its Way to Wealth (with Noah Smith)

EconTalk | 15 January 2024 | 1h 09m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Noah Smith about his essay Nations Don’t Get Rich by Plundering Other Nations. Discusses the impact of imperialism and industrialization on growth and wealth. Argues that understanding plunder and where wealth comes from is more than an exercise in economic history – it matters for today’s world, too.

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From the Second Intifada to October 7th (with Daniel Gordis)

EconTalk | 1 January 2024 | 1h 04m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Daniel Gordis discussing why Hamas’s massacre of October 7th is different and is an existential threat to Israel; why Israelis are demanding a different response to Hamas than they have in the past; and how and why this war will change Israel and the Jewish people. Draws from his book his book If a Place Can Make You Cry: Dispatches from an Anxious State.

To my beloved readers. I know that many of you feel deeply for the Palestinian predicament. This site seeks to build understanding of how the world really works based on interviews with insightful writers. This interview conveys how Israelis are thinking and feeling: their resolve, their anxiety about being unsafe anywhere else in the world, and their very real fear that the war with Hamas is unwinnable. Russ Roberts has been showing us with EconTalk how to be wiser and lead better lifes since 2006. His on-the-ground perspective on this issue is valuable. Experience has taught me that where I think Russ is wrong, I have misunderstood, and it’s me that is wrong. Are you sure you don’t want to listen to this? Regardless, please forgive me – I can’t change my sympathy for the Israeli cause.

See also the EconTalk interview with Daniel Gordis about his book Impossible Takes Longer.

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An Extraordinary Introduction to the Birth of Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (with Haviv Rettig Gur)

EconTalk | 18 December 2023 | 1h 40m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Haviv Rettig Gur about his article The forgotten horrors that hide in the Holocaust’s long, dark shadow. Discusses the origins of Israel – how European Jew-hatred gave birth to Zionism and the founding of the Jewish state in 1948; the rise of Palestinian terrorism and why the Palestinian experience and the Israeli experience are so incompatible; and places the Holocaust in a much broader European context.

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Tyler Cowen on the GOAT of Economics

EconTalk | 27 November 2023 | 1h 34m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Tyler Cowen about his free generative book GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time and Why Does it Matter? Discusses the requirements to be the greatest economist of all time, what shaped the theories and worldviews of the greatest economists of all time, and the evolution of economics from a field concerned mainly with ideas to one that mostly grapples with empirical challenges.

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Andrew McAfee on the Geek Way

EconTalk | 20 November 2023 | 1h 13m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Andrew McAfee about his book The Geek Way: The Radical Mindset that Drives Extraordinary Results Results. Argues that companies that accomplish great things have developed “geek” cultures that emphasize intense cooperation, rapid learning curves, and a lack of hierarchy. Discusses how focusing on company norms, as opposed to organizational charts and structure, is a key to realizing big ambitions; the role that data and evidence play in geek companies’ decision-making; and why the willingness to embrace failure is a winning strategy.

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Jennifer Burns on Milton Friedman

EconTalk | 13 November 2023 | 1h 03m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Jennifer Burns about her book Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative. Discusses how the now-forgotten Henry Simons shaped Friedman’s thought, the degree to which Friedman had a deep understanding and belief in the role of prices in a modern economy, the influence of key women on Friedman’s intellectual life, and whether or not Friedman’s insights continue to affect public policy and the discipline of economics.

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Adam Mastroianni on the Brain, the Ears, and How We Learn

EconTalk | 14 August 2023 | 1h 05m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Adam Mastroianni about his article You Can’t Reach the Brain Through the Ears. Argues our minds are like the keep of a castle protecting our deepest held values and beliefs from even the most skilled attacks. The problem with this design for self-preservation is that it also keeps out wisdom that might be useful and true. Considers the implication of this view of mind for teaching, learning, and our daily interactions with the people around us.

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