How Can You Stop Comparing Yourself With Other People? (NSQ Ep. 13 Rebroadcast)

Also: how can we stop confusing correlation with causation?

Maya Shankar Is Changing People’s Behavior — and Her Own (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 34)

She used to run a behavioral unit in the Obama administration, and now has a similar role at Google. Maya and Steve talk about the power (and limits) of behavioral economics and also how people respond to change — the topic of her new podcast A Slight Change of Plans.

How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns? (Ep. 289 Rebroadcast)

Nearly two percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?

What’s So Gratifying About Gossip? (NSQ Ep. 58)

Also: why do people hate small talk?

Travis Tygart Is Coming for Cheaters — Just Ask Lance Armstrong (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 33)

He’s the C.E.O. of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which, under his charge, exposed the most celebrated American cyclist as a cheater. And Steve’s been studying cheaters for the last 25 years, so he’s also excited to talk to Travis about the incentives to cheat and the advances in testing technology — and offers his services as an anti-doping data detective for the sport of horse racing.

Is the Future of Farming in the Ocean? (Ep. 467)

Bren Smith, who grew up fishing and fighting, is now part of a movement that seeks to feed the planet while putting less environmental stress on it. He makes his argument in a book called Eat Like a Fish; his secret ingredient: kelp. But don’t worry, you won’t have to eat it (not much, at least). An installment of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

Which Incentives Are Best at Boosting Vaccination, and Why? (NSQ Ep. 57)

Also: what does your desired superpower say about you?

Angela Duckworth Explains How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 32)

She’s the author of the bestselling book Grit, and a University of Pennsylvania professor of psychology — a field Steve says he knows nothing about. But once Angela gives Steve a quick tutorial on “goal conflict,” he is suddenly a fan. They also talk parenting, self-esteem, and how easy it is to learn econometrics if you feel like it.

She’s From the Government, and She’s Here to Help (Ep. 466)

Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, is as cold-blooded as any economist. But she admits that her profession would do well to focus on policy that actually helps people. Rouse explains why President Biden wants to spend trillions of dollars to reshape the economy, and why — as the first Black chair of the C.E.A. — she has a good idea of what needs fixing.

Why Is Academic Writing So Bad? (NSQ Ep. 56)

Also: what does your perfect day look like?

Peter Leeson on Why Trial-by-Fire Wasn’t Barbaric and Why Pirates Were Democratic (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 31)

He’s an economist who studies even weirder things than Steve. They discuss whether economics is the best of the social sciences, and why it’s a good idea to get a tattoo of a demand curve on your bicep.