Emily Oster: “I Am a Woman Who Is Prominently Discussing Vaginas.” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 17)

In addition to publishing best-selling books about pregnancy and child-rearing, Emily Oster is a respected economist at Brown University. Over the course of the pandemic, she’s become the primary collector of data about Covid-19 in schools. Steve and Emily discuss how she became an advocate for school reopening, how economists think differently from the average person, and whether pregnant women really need to avoid coffee.

Am I Boring You? (Ep. 225 Rebroadcast)

Researchers are trying to figure out who gets bored — and why — and what it means for ourselves and the economy. But maybe there’s an upside to boredom?

Have We All Lost Our Ability to Compromise? (NSQ Ep.40)

Also: is it better to be right or “not wrong”?

Joshua Jay: “Humans Are So, So Easy to Fool.” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 16)

He’s a world-renowned magician who’s been performing since he was seven years old. But Joshua Jay is also an author, toy maker, and consultant for film and television. Steve Levitt talks to him about how magicians construct tricks, how Joshua’s academic studies of magic have influenced Levitt’s life, and whether Jesus might have been a magician.

Jeff Immelt Knows He Let You Down (Ep. 452)

Not so long ago, G.E. was the most valuable company in the world, a conglomerate that included everything from light bulbs and jet engines to financial services and The Apprentice. Now it’s selling off body parts to survive. What does the C.E.O. who presided over the decline have to say for himself?

Introducing Sudhir Breaks the Internet

Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist who has studied crack gangs, sex workers, and gun runners, suddenly found himself working at Facebook, and later at Twitter. Now he’s back from Silicon Valley to explore and explain our overheated digital universe. “Sudhir Breaks the Internet” is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.

Is Everybody Cheating These Days? (NSQ Ep. 39)

Also, what's better: to learn new skills or go deep on what you're good at?

Tim Harford: “If You Can Make Sure You’re Not An Idiot, You’ve Done Well.” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 15)

He’s a former World Bank economist who became a prolific journalist and the author of one of Steve Levitt’s favorite books, The Undercover Economist. Tim Harford lives in England, where he’s made it his mission to help the public understand statistics. In their conversation, Steve gives Tim some feedback on his new book, The Data Detective, contemplates if it’s possible to tell great stories with data, and Tim explains how making mistakes can be fun. 

Can I Ask You a Ridiculously Personal Question? (Ep. 451)

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 the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

What Does It Mean to Be a “Good” Man? (NSQ Ep. 38)

Also: how can you stop ruminating?

Yul Kwon (Part 2): “Hey, Do You Have Any Bright Ideas?” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 14)

He’s so fascinating that Steve Levitt brought him back for a second conversation. Yul Kwon currently works at Google, but he’s been a lawyer, political organizer, government regulator, organ donation activist, and Survivor winner. Steve asks Yul why he’s so altruistic, how Google and Apple are helping track COVID-19, and whether the best way to pick a president might be a reality show.