How to Fix the Incentives in Cancer Research (Ep. 449)

For all the progress made in fighting cancer, it still kills 10 million people a year, and some types remain especially hard to detect and treat. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, is nearly always fatal. A new clinical-trial platform could change that by aligning institutions that typically compete against one another.

The Downside of Disgust (Ep. 448)

It’s a powerful biological response that has preserved our species for millennia. But now it may be keeping us from pursuing strategies that would improve the environment, the economy, even our own health. So is it time to dial down our disgust reflex? You can help fix things — as Stephen Dubner does in this episode — by chowing down on some delicious insects.

A Sneak Peek at Biden’s Top Economist (Ep. 443)

The incoming president argues that the economy and the environment are deeply connected. This is reflected in his choice for National Economic Council director — Brian Deese, a climate-policy wonk and veteran of the no-drama-Obama era. But don’t mistake Deese’s lack of drama for a lack of intensity.

Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 2: Digital) (Ep. 441)

Google and Facebook are worth a combined $2 trillion, with the vast majority of their revenue coming from advertising. In our previous episode, we learned that TV advertising is much less effective than the industry says. Is digital any better? Some say yes, some say no — and some say we’re in a full-blown digital-ad bubble.

Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 1: TV) (Ep. 440)

Companies around the world spend more than half-a-trillion dollars each year on ads. The ad industry swears by its efficacy — but a massive new study tells a different story.

Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears (Ep. 439)

The modern world overwhelms us with sounds we didn’t ask for, like car alarms and cell-phone “halfalogues.” What does all this noise cost us in terms of productivity, health, and basic sanity?

Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research? (Ep. 430)

We explore the science, scalability, and (of course) economics surrounding the global vaccine race. Guests include the chief medical officer of the first U.S. firm to go to Phase 3 trials with a vaccine candidate; a former F.D.A. commissioner who’s been warning of a pandemic for years; and an economist who thinks Covid-19 may finally change how diseases are cured.

Remembrance of Economic Crises Past (Ep. 425)

Christina Romer was a top White House economist during the Great Recession. As a researcher, she specializes in the Great Depression. She tells us what those disasters can (and can’t) teach us about the Covid crash.

68 Ways to Be Better at Life (Ep. 419)

The accidental futurist Kevin Kelly on why enthusiasm beats intelligence, how to really listen, and why the solution to bad technology is more technology.

Season 9, Episode 37

Three university presidents try to answer our listeners’ questions about college in the age of Covid-19. The result? Not much pomp and a whole lot of circumstance. To find out more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “What Will College Look Like in the Fall (and Beyond)?”