Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on Democracies and Dictatorships

EconTalk | 12 February 2007 | 1h 06m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita about the incentives facing dictators and democratic leaders. Both face competition from rivals and try to please their constituents and cronies to stay in power. He applies his ‘selectorate’ framing to foreign aid, the Middle East, Venezuela, the potential for China’s evolution to a more democratic system, and Cuba. Along the way, he explains why true democracy is more than just elections – it depends crucially on freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

Emily Oster on Cribsheet

EconTalk | 29 April 2019 | 1h 06m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with economist and author Emily Oster about her book Cribsheet. Explores what the data and evidence can tell us about parenting in areas such as breastfeeding, sleep habits, discipline, vaccination, and food allergies. Oster often finds that commonly held views on some of these topics are not well supported by the evidence while on others, the evidence appears decisive. Oster thoughtfully explores the challenges of using empirical work and balances our sometimes ignorance with common sense.

Rachel Laudan on Food Waste

EconTalk | 4 December 2017 | 1h 01m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with historian Rachel Laudan about food waste. Argues that much of the alleged wasting of food serves a purpose and reducing waste would have costs that exceed the benefits. Also discusses the role of food taboos and moralizing about food. Along the way, Laudan defends the virtue of individual choice and freedom in deciding what to eat.

Daniel Hamermesh on Spending Time

EconTalk | 25 March 2019 | 1h 02m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Daniel Hamermesh about his book, Spending Time: The Most Valuable Resource. Explains why additional money makes us feel time poorer.

Jacob Stegenga on Medical Nihilism

EconTalk | 1 April 2019 | 1h 18m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Jacob Stegenga about his book Medical Nihilism. Stegenga argues that many medical treatments either fail to achieve their intended goals or achieve those goals with many negative side effects. Stegenga argues that the approval process for pharmaceuticals, for example, exaggerates benefits and underestimates costs. He criticizes the FDA approval process for approving too many drugs that are not sufficiently helpful relative to their side effects. Stegenga argues for a more realistic understanding of what medical practice can and cannot achieve.

Amy Tuteur on Birth, Natural Parenting, and Push Back

EconTalk | 18 March 2019 | 1h 02m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with obstetrician-gynecologist Amy Tuteur about her book Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting. Argues that the ‘paleo-fantasy’ of natural parenting – the encouragement to women to give birth without epidurals or caesarians and to breastfeed – is bad for women’s health and has little or no benefit for their children.

Paul Bloom on Empathy

EconTalk | 27 February 2017 | 1h 08m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Paul Bloom about his book Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Bloom argues that empathy – the ability to feel the emotions of others – is a bad guide to charitable giving and public policy. Bloom argues that reason combined with compassion is a better and more effective guide to making the world a better place.

Robert Wright on Meditation, Mindfulness, and Why Buddhism is True

EconTalk | 2 October 2017 | 1h 06m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Robert Wright, author of Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. Wright argues that our evolutionary past has endowed us with a mind that can be ill-suited to the stress of the present. He suggests that meditation and the non-religious aspects of Buddhism can reduce suffering and are consistent with recent psychological research.