These Shoes Are Killing Me! (Ep. 296 Rebroadcast)

The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece, far more functional than we give it credit for. So why do we encase it in “a coffin” (as one foot scholar calls it) that stymies so much of its ability — and may create more problems than it solves?

The Future of New York City Is in Question. Could Andrew Yang Be the Answer? (Ep. 462)

The man who wants America to “think harder” has parlayed his quixotic presidential campaign into front-runner status in New York’s mayoral election. And he has some big plans.

How to Stop Worrying and Love the Robot Apocalypse (Ep. 461)

It’s true that robots (and other smart technologies) will kill many jobs. It may also be true that newer collaborative robots (“cobots”) will totally reinvigorate how work gets done. That, at least, is what the economists are telling us. Should we believe them?

The True Story of the Minimum-Wage Fight (Ep. 460)

Backers of a $15 federal wage say it’s a no-brainer if you want to fight poverty. Critics say it’s a blunt instrument that leads to job loss. Even the economists can’t agree! We talk to a bunch of them — and a U.S. Senator — to sort it out, and learn there’s a much bigger problem to worry about.

Let’s Be Blunt: Marijuana Is a Boon for Older Workers (Ep. 459)

The state-by-state rollout of legalized weed has given economists a perfect natural experiment to measure its effects. Here’s what we know so far — and don’t know — about the costs and benefits of legalization.

Is Dialysis a Test Case of Medicare for All? (Ep. 457)

Kidney failure is such a catastrophic (and expensive) disease that Medicare covers treatment for anyone, regardless of age. Since Medicare reimbursement rates are fairly low, the dialysis industry had to find a way to tweak the system if they wanted to make big profits. They succeeded.

How to Fix the Hot Mess of U.S. Healthcare (Ep. 456)

Medicine has evolved from a calling into an industry, adept at dispensing procedures and pills (and gigantic bills), but less good at actual health. Most reformers call for big, bold action. What happens if, instead, you think small?

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Ep. 405 Rebroadcast)

Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code? Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on […]

Are You Ready for a Fresh Start? (Ep. 455)

Behavioral scientists have been exploring if — and when — a psychological reset can lead to lasting change. We survey evidence from the London Underground, Major League Baseball, and New Year’s resolutions; we look at accidental fresh starts, forced fresh starts, and fresh starts that backfire. And we wonder: will the pandemic’s end provide the biggest fresh start ever?

Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished? (Ep. 454)

Americans are so accustomed to the standard intersection that we rarely consider how dangerous it can be — as well as costly, time-wasting, and polluting. Is it time to embrace the lowly, lovely roundabout?