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Morgan Levey

 
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The Zero-Minute Workout

There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it?

6/26/19
39:14

Season 9, Episode 10

Continuing our conversation with Girl Scouts C.E.O. Sylvia Acevedo. Then: There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it? To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour . . .

11/7/19

The Zero-Minute Workout (Replay)

There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it?

1/1/20
38:42

How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?

Patients in the U.S. healthcare system often feel they’re treated with a lack of empathy. Doctors and nurses have tragically high levels of burnout. Could fixing the first problem solve the second? And does the rest of society need more compassion too?

12/16/20
48:50

Sue Bird: “You Have to Pay the Superstars.”

She is one of the best basketball players ever. She’s won multiple championships, including four Olympic gold medals and four W.N.B.A. titles — the most recent in 2020, just before turning 40. She also helped negotiate a landmark contract for the league’s players. Sue Bird tells Steve Levitt the untold truth about clutch players, her thoughts about the pay gap between male and female athletes, and what it means to be part of the first gay couple in ESPN’s The Body Issue.

1/22/21
40:25

Yul Kwon: “Don’t Try to Change Yourself All at Once.”

He has been a lawyer, an instructor at the F.B.I. Academy, the owner of a frozen-yogurt chain, and a winner of the TV show Survivor. Today, Kwon works at Google, where he helped build tools to track the spread of Covid-19. But things haven’t always come easily for him. Steve Levitt talks to Kwon about his debilitating childhood anxieties, his compulsion to choose the hardest path in life, and how Kwon used his obsession with game theory to stage a come-from-behind victory on Survivor.

1/29/21
35:13

Yul Kwon (Part 2): “Hey, Do You Have Any Bright Ideas?”

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.

2/5/21
29:22

Tim Harford: “If You Can Make Sure You’re Not An Idiot, You’ve Done Well.”

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 and hosts the podcast Cautionary Tales. 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. 

2/12/21
42:30

Joshua Jay: “Humans Are So, So Easy to Fool.”

He’s a world-renowned magician who’s been performing since he was seven years old. But Joshua Jay is also an author, toymaker, 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.

2/19/21
42:58

Emily Oster: “I Am a Woman Who Is Prominently Discussing Vaginas.”

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.

2/26/21
44:36

Robert Sapolsky: “I Don’t Think We Have Any Free Will Whatsoever.”

He’s one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, with a focus on the physiological effects of stress. (For years, he spent his summers in Kenya, alone except for the baboons he was observing.) Steve asks Robert why we value human life over animals, why he’s lost faith in the criminal justice system, and how to look casual when you’re about to blow-dart a very large and potentially unhappy primate.

3/5/21
43:04

Marina Nitze: “If You Googled ‘Business Efficiency Consultant,’ I Was the Only Result.”

At 27— and without a college degree — she was named chief technology officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, Marina Nitze is trying to reform the foster care system. She tells Steve how she hacked the V.A.’s bureaucracy, opens up about her struggle with Type 1 diabetes, and explains how she was building websites for soap opera stars when she was just 12 years old.

3/12/21
38:27

John Donohue: “I’m Frequently Called a Treasonous Enemy of the Constitution.”

He’s a law professor with a Ph.D. in economics and a tendency for getting into fervid academic debates. Over 20 years ago, he and Steve began studying the impact of legalized abortion on crime. John and Steve talk about guns, the death penalty, the heat they took from their joint research, and why it’s frustratingly difficult to prove truth in the social sciences.

3/19/21
39:14

Pete Docter: “What If Monsters Really Do Exist?”

He’s the chief creative officer of Pixar, and the Academy Award-winning director of Soul, Inside Out, Up, and Monsters, Inc. Pete Docter and Steve talk about Pixar’s scrappy beginnings, why it costs $200 million to make an animated film, and the movie moment that changed Steve’s life.

3/26/21
45:44

Sal Khan: “If It Works for 15 Cousins, It Could Work for a Billion People.”

Khan Academy grew out of Sal Khan’s online math tutorials for his extended family. It’s now a platform used by more than 115 million people in 190 countries. So what does Khan want to do next? How about reinventing in-school learning, too? Find out why Steve nearly moved to Silicon Valley to be part of Khan’s latest venture.

4/2/21
44:18

Greg Norman & Mark Broadie: Why Golf Beats an Orgasm and Why Data Beats Everything

Steve Levitt is obsessed with golf — and he’s pretty good at it too. As a thinly-veiled ploy to improve his own game, Steve talks to two titans of the sport: Greg “The Shark” Norman, who was the world’s top-ranked golfer for more than six years; and Mark Broadie, a Columbia professor whose data analysis changed how pros play the game.

4/9/21
42:30

How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy

In this special crossover episode, People I (Mostly) Admire host Steve Levitt admits to No Stupid Questions co-host Angela Duckworth that he knows almost nothing about psychology. 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.

4/14/21
51:26

Amaryllis Fox: “What Does This New Version of Mutually Assured Destruction Look Like?”

She spent nearly a decade as an undercover C.I.A. operative working to prevent terrorism. More recently, she hosted The Business of Drugs on Netflix. Amaryllis Fox — now Kennedy — explains why intelligence work requires empathy, and she soothes Steve’s fears about weapons of mass destruction.

4/16/21
58:23

Sam Harris: “Spirituality Is a Loaded Term.”

He’s a cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher who has written five best-selling books. Sam Harris also hosts the Making Sense podcast and helps people discover meditation through his Waking Up app. Sam explains to Steve how to become spiritual as a skeptic and commit to never lying again.

4/30/21
43:49

Memory Champion Nelson Dellis Helps Steve Train His Brain

He’s one of the world’s leading competitors, having won four U.S. memory tournaments and holding the record for most names memorized in 15 minutes (235!). But Nelson Dellis claims he was born with an average memory and that anyone can learn his tricks. Steve gives Nelson’s techniques a shot, without much hope — and is surprised by the result.

5/7/21
38:28

Daniel Kahneman on Why Our Judgment is Flawed — and What to Do About It

Nobel laureate, best-selling author, and groundbreaking psychologist Daniel Kahneman is also a friend and former business partner of Steve’s. In discussing Danny’s new book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, the two spar over inconsistencies in criminal sentencing and Danny tells Steve that “Your attitude is unusual” — no surprise there.

5/14/21
46:00

Professor Carl Hart Argues All Drugs Should Be Legal — Can He Convince Steve?

As a neuroscientist and psychology professor at Columbia University who studies the immediate and long-term effects of illicit substances, Carl Hart believes that all drugs — including heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine — should be legalized. Steve talks to Carl about his new book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups, and Carl tells Steve why decriminalizing drugs is as American as apple pie.

5/21/21
47:41

Bruce Friedrich Thinks There’s a Better Way to Eat Meat

Levitt rarely interviews advocates, but the founder of the Good Food Institute is different. Once an outspoken — and sometimes outlandish — animal-rights activist, Bruce has come to believe that market-driven innovation and scientific advancement are the best ways to reduce global meat consumption. Steve and Bruce talk about the negative externalities of factory-farmed meat, and why Bruce gave up antics like streaking at Buckingham Palace.

5/28/21
48:21

Dambisa Moyo Says Foreign Aid Can’t Solve Problems, but Maybe Corporations Can

The African-born economist has written four bestselling books, including Dead Aid, which Bill Gates described as “promoting evil.” In her new book about corporate boards, Dambisa uses her experience with global corporations to explore how they can better meet society’s demands. And she explains to Steve why, even as a Harvard and Oxford-educated economist, her goal in life might sound “a little bit like a Miss America pageant.”

6/4/21
46:44

Peter Leeson on Why Trial-by-Fire Wasn’t Barbaric and Why Pirates Were Democratic

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.

6/11/21
48:51

Angela Duckworth Explains How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy

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.

6/18/21
53:48

Travis Tygart Is Coming for Cheaters — Just Ask Lance Armstrong

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.

6/25/21
48:23

Maya Shankar Is Changing People’s Behavior — and Her Own

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.

7/2/21
47:21

David Epstein Knows Something About Almost Everything

He’s been an Arctic scientist, a sports journalist, and is now a best-selling author of science books. His latest, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, makes the argument that early specialization does not give you a head start in life. David and Steve talk about why frustration is a good sign, and why the 10,000-hour rule is definitely not a rule.

7/9/21
52:51

How Rahm Emanuel Would Run the World

In this interview, first heard on Freakonomics Radio last year, Steve talks with the former top adviser to presidents Clinton and Obama, about his record — and his reputation. And Rahm explains that while he believes in the power of the federal government, as former mayor of Chicago, he says that cities are where problems really get solved.

7/16/21
45:12

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