How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War (Ep. 386 Rebroadcast)

Aisle upon aisle of fresh produce, cheap meat, and sugary cereal — a delicious embodiment of free-market capitalism, right? Not quite. The supermarket was in fact the endpoint of the U.S. government’s battle for agricultural abundance against the U.S.S.R. Our farm policies were built to dominate, not necessarily to nourish — and we are still living with the consequences.

Does “As If” Thinking Really Work? (NSQ Ep. 12)

Also: how effective is the placebo effect?

The Simple Economics of Saving the Amazon Rain Forest (Ep. 428)

Everyone agrees that massive deforestation is an environmental disaster. But most of the standard solutions — scolding the Brazilians, invoking universal morality — ignore the one solution that might actually work.

Are Ambitious People Inherently Selfish? (NSQ Ep. 11)

Also: why do we habituate to life’s greatest pleasures?

The Pros and Cons of Reparations (Ep. 427)

Most Americans agree that racial discrimination has been, and remains, a big problem. But that is where the agreement ends.

Why Are Stories Stickier Than Statistics? (NSQ Ep. 10)

Also: are the most memorable stories less likely to be true?

Season 9, Episode 46

Before she decided to become a poker pro, Maria Konnikova didn’t know how many cards are in a deck. But she did have a Ph.D. in psychology, a brilliant coach, and a burning desire to know whether life is driven more by skill or chance. She found some answers in poker — and in her […]

Should America (and FIFA) Pay Reparations? (Ep. 426)

The racial wealth gap in the U.S. is massive. We explore the causes, consequences, and potential solutions. Also: another story of discrimination and economic disparity, this one perpetrated by an international sporting authority. The first of a two-part series.

Why Is It So Hard to Be Alone With Our Thoughts? (NSQ Ep. 9)

Also: how do you avoid screwing up your kids?

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.