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Steve Levitt

Date
Length

Why Bother Searching for Aliens?

Astronomer Jill Tarter spent her career searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. She explains what civilizations from other planets could teach us about our own future.

6/24/22
48:16

Get Your Share of the Pie

Game theorist Barry Nalebuff explains how he used basic economics to build Honest Tea into a multimillion-dollar business, and shares his innovative approach to negotiation.

6/17/22
55:07

Genes

“What breed is she?” Every owner of a mixed-breed dog is eventually asked this when out on a walk. But how much do dogs’ breeds — and genes — really tell us about who they are? Alexandra Horowitz asks Soledad O’Brien about her dog Coco’s ancestry (and her own), then talks to a pioneer in the field of canine DNA.

6/13/22
41:37

Giving It Away

Billionaire John Arnold is figuring out how to do as much good as he can with his wealth. It takes hard work, risk tolerance, and a lot of spending.

6/3/22
53:48

Can Games Prepare Us for Catastrophes? (Part 2)

Many of us hate to think about future crises. Game designer Jane McGonigal wants to make it fun.

5/27/22
35:52

Season 11, Episode 39

As the Supreme Court considers overturning Roe v. Wade, we look back at Steve Levitt’s controversial research on an unintended consequence of the 1973 ruling.

5/26/22
50:30

Is Gaming Good for You?

Jane McGonigal designed a game to help herself recover from a traumatic brain injury — and she thinks playing games can help us all lead our best lives.

5/20/22
44:23

Self-Help for Data Nerds

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz combs through mountains of information to find advice for everyday life.

5/13/22
54:05

Abortion and Crime, Revisited (Update)

As the Supreme Court considers overturning Roe v. Wade, we look back at Steve Levitt’s controversial research on an unintended consequence of the 1973 ruling.

5/11/22
61:17

Getting Our Hands Dirty

Soil scientist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe could soon hold one of the most important jobs in science. She explains why the ground beneath our feet is one of our greatest resources — and, possibly, one of our deadliest threats.

5/6/22
54:15

Turning Work into Play

How psychologist Dan Gilbert went from high school dropout to Harvard professor, found the secret of joy, and inspired Steve Levitt’s divorce.

4/29/22
51:57

Are More Expensive Hospitals Better?

For lots of things, price is an indicator of quality. But what about in health care? Bapu Jena gets some clues from Steve Levitt’s wine tasting experiment, and looks at why shopping for healthcare is so hard.

4/28/22
30:27

“Leaving Black People in the Lurch”

Linguist and social commentator John McWhorter explains how good intentions may be hurting Black America — and where the word “motherf*cker” comes from.

4/22/22
49:02

Bombs Away

Beatrice Fihn wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As Russian aggression raises the prospect of global conflict, can she put disarmament on the world’s agenda?

4/15/22
47:16

Season 11, Episode 33

The British art superstar Flora Yukhnovich, the Freakonomist Steve Levitt, and the upstart American Basketball Association were all unafraid to follow their joy — despite sneers from the Establishment. Should we all be more willing to embrace the déclassé?

4/14/22

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Experiment

Nobel Prize winner Joshua Angrist explains how the draft lottery, the Talmud, and West Point let economists ask — and answer — tough questions.

4/8/22
37:21

Season 11, Episode 32

After a huge false start, electric cars are finally about to flourish. We speak with a technology historian about this all-too-common story, and what it means for innovation everywhere.

4/7/22

Don’t Worry, Be Tacky

The British art superstar Flora Yukhnovich, the Freakonomist Steve Levitt, and the upstart American Basketball Association were all unafraid to follow their joy — despite sneers from the Establishment. Should we all be more willing to embrace the déclassé?

4/6/22
39:57

Does Death Have to Be a Death Sentence?

Palliative physician B.J. Miller asks: Is there a better way to think about dying? And can death be beautiful?

4/1/22
45:52

“No One Can Resist a Jolly, Happy Pig.”

Naturalist Sy Montgomery explains how she learned to be social from a pig, discovered octopuses have souls, and came to love a killer that will never love her back.

3/25/22
46:05

We Can Play God Now

Gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna worries that humanity might not be ready for the technology she helped develop.

3/18/22
41:42

The Professor Who Said “No” to Tenure

Columbia astrophysicist David Helfand is an academic who does things his own way — from turning down job security to helping found a radically unconventional university.

3/11/22
48:38

A Rockstar Chemist and Her Cancer-Attacking “Lawn Mower”

Stanford professor Carolyn Bertozzi’s imaginative ideas for treating disease have led to ten start-ups. She talks with Steve about the new generation of immune therapy she’s created, and why she might rather be a musician.

3/4/22
54:14

The Only Covid-19 Book Worth Reading

Steve loved Michael Lewis’s latest, The Premonition, but has one critique: Why aren’t there even more villains? Also, why the author of best-sellers Moneyball and The Big Short can barely read a page of his first book without cringing.

2/18/22
53:02

Was Austan Goolsbee’s First Visit to the Oval Office Almost His Last?

The former chairman of the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisors tells Steve how improv comedy was a better training ground for teaching than a Ph.D. from M.I.T., and why he’s glad he was wrong about the automotive-industry bailout.

2/4/22
53:03

Cassandra Quave Thinks the Way Antibiotics Are Developed Might Kill Us

By mid-century, 10 million people a year are projected to die from untreatable infections. Can Cassandra, an ethnobotanist at Emory University convince Steve that herbs and ancient healing are key to our medical future?

1/28/22
50:30

Why Aren’t All Drugs Legal? (Replay)

The Columbia neuroscientist and psychology professor Carl Hart believes that recreational drug use, even heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine, is an inalienable right. Can he convince Steve?

1/21/22
44:47

Are We Under Threat from a New Kind of Terror? (Replay)

Amaryllis Fox is a former C.I.A. operative and host of the Netflix show The Business of Drugs. She explains why intelligence work requires empathy, and she soothes Steve’s fears about weapons of mass destruction.

1/14/22
58:23

Why Is Richard Thaler Such a ****ing Optimist?

The Nobel laureate and pioneering behavioral economist spars with Steve over what makes a nudge a nudge, and admits that even economists have plenty of blind spots.

12/31/21
46:48

Does Death Have to Be a Death Sentence?

In this special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt speaks with the palliative physician B.J. Miller about modern medicine’s goal of “protecting a pulse at all costs.” Is there a better, even beautiful way to think about death and dying?

12/29/21
57:45

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