Season 9, Episode 11

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Assumptions interfere with good foreign policy, says political scientist Robert Pape. “It’s too easy to have preconceptions like it’s religion that causes people to blow themselves up. And if you get it wrong you could do really dumb things, like send an army to Iraq in 2003.” (Photo: Nelson/Getty)

Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can help answer all these questions — and make better foreign-policy decisions. Guests include former Department of Defense officials Chuck Hagel and Michèle Flournoy and Chicago Project on Security and Threats researchers Robert Pape and Paul Poast. Recorded live in Chicago; Steve Levitt is co-host.

To find out more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “Speak Softly and Carry Big Data.”