The filmmaker doesn’t want to be known only for his movies. He tells Steve why he considers himself a writer first, how it feels to be recognized for his role in The Mandalorian, and why he once worked as a rodeo clown.
Economist Michael D. Smith says universities are scrambling to protect a status quo that deserves to die. He tells Steve why the current system is unsustainable, and what’s at stake if nothing changes.
Computer scientist Fei-Fei Li had a wild idea: download one billion images from the internet and teach a computer to recognize them. She ended up advancing the state of artificial intelligence — and she hopes that will turn out to be a good thing for humanity.
Data scientist Nate Silver gained attention for his election predictions. But even the best prognosticators get it wrong sometimes. He talks to Steve about making good decisions with data, why he’d rather write a newsletter than an academic paper, and how online poker led him to the world of politics.
Abraham Verghese is a physician and a best-selling author — in that order, he says. He explains the difference between curing and healing, and tells Steve why doctors should spend more time with patients and less with electronic health records.
Claudia Goldin is the newest winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Steve spoke to her in 2021 about how inflexible jobs and family responsibilities make it harder for women to earn wages equal to their male counterparts.
For 37 years, Rick Doblin has been pushing the F.D.A. to approve treating post-traumatic stress disorder with MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. He tells Steve why he persisted for so long, why he doesn’t like calling drug use “recreational,” and what he learned from his pet wolf.
Psychologist Thomas Curran argues that perfectionism isn’t about high standards — it’s about never being enough. He explains how the drive to be perfect is harming education, the economy, and our mental health.
Avi Loeb is a Harvard astronomer who argues that we’ve already encountered extraterrestrial technology. His approach to the search for interstellar objects is scientific, but how plausible is his argument?
Reginald Dwayne Betts spent more than eight years in prison. Today he’s a Yale Law graduate, a MacArthur Fellow, and a poet. His nonprofit works to build libraries in prisons so that more incarcerated people can find hope.
Obi Felten used to launch projects for X, Google’s innovation lab, but she’s now tackling mental health. She explains why Steve’s dream job was soul-destroying for her, and how peer support could transform the therapeutic industry.
Artist Wendy MacNaughton knows the difficulty of sitting in silence and the power of having fun. She explains to Steve the lessons she’s gleaned from drawing hospice residents, working in Rwanda, and reporting from Guantanamo Bay.
Sal Khan returns to discuss his innovative online high school’s first year — and Steve grills a member of the school’s class of 2026 about what it’s really like.
The creator of The Wire, The Deuce, and other shows is leading the Writers Guild on the picket lines. He and Steve break down the economics of TV writing, how A.I. could change television, and why he’s taking a stand even though he’s at the top of the game.
Robert Solow is 98 years old and a giant among economists. He tells Steve about cracking German codes in World War II, why it’s so hard to reduce inequality, and how his field lost its way.
Talithia Williams thinks you should rigorously track your body’s data. She and Steve Levitt trade birth stories and bemoan the state of STEM education.
Kevin Kelly believes A.I. will create more problems for humanity — and help us solve them. He talks to Steve about embracing complexity, staying enthusiastic, and taking the 10,000-year view.
Clementine Jacoby went from performing in a circus to founding a nonprofit that works to shrink the prison population.
Steve is on a mission to reform math education, and Sarah Hart is ready to join the cause. In her return visit to the show, Sarah explains how patterns are everywhere, constraints make us more creative, and literature is surprisingly mathematical.
From recording some of the first rap hits to revitalizing Johnny Cash’s career, the legendary producer has had an extraordinary creative life. In this episode he talks about his new book and his art-making process — and helps Steve get in touch with his own artistic side.
Physician Peter Attia returns to the show to talk about the science of longevity — which focuses not only on extending life but on maintaining good health into old age. He explains the possibilities and limits of current medicine and gives Steve his best advice on how to defeat the aging process.
Steve and producer Morgan Levey look back at the first 100 episodes of the podcast, including surprising answers, spectacular explanations, and listeners who heard the show and changed their lives.
Tom Dart is transforming Cook County’s jail, reforming evictions, and, with Steve Levitt, trying a new approach to electronic monitoring.
Since his last visit to People I (Mostly) Admire, the formerly top-ranked golfer has become the sport’s most controversial figure. Why has he partnered with the Saudi government — and can his new golf league unseat a monopoly?
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.
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.
In this special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt talks to the best-selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus about finding the profound in the obvious.
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.
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