“Hey, Let’s Go Buy YouTube!” | People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 5: Susan Wojcicki

She was the sixteenth employee at Google — a company once based in her garage — and now she's the C.E.O. of its best-known subsidiary, YouTube. But despite being one of the most powerful people in the tech industry, few outside of Silicon Valley know the name Susan Wojcicki. Levitt talks with her about the early days of Google, how her background in economics shapes the company's products, and why YouTube's success has created a range of unforeseen and serious issues.

When Your Safety Becomes My Danger (Ep. 432)

The families of U.S. troops killed and wounded in Afghanistan are suing several companies that did reconstruction there. Why? These companies, they say, paid the Taliban protection money, which gave them the funding — and opportunity — to attack U.S. soldiers instead. A look at the messy, complicated, and heart-breaking tradeoffs of conflict-zone economies.

“One Does Not Know Where an Insight Will Come From” | People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 3: Kerwin Charles

The dean of Yale’s School of Management grew up in a small village in Guyana. During his unlikely journey, he has researched video-gaming habits, communicable disease, and why so many African-Americans haven’t had the kind of success he’s had. Steve Levitt talks to Charles about his parents’ encouragement, his love of Sports Illustrated, and how he talks to his American-born kids about the complicated history of Blackness in America. 

“I Started Crying When I Realized How Beautiful the Universe Is” | People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 2: Mayim Bialik

She’s best known for playing neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, but the award-winning actress has a rich life outside of her acting career, as a teacher, mother — and a real-life neuroscientist. Steve Levitt tries to learn more about this one-time academic and Hollywood non-conformist, who is both very similar to him and also quite his opposite.

“I Manage My Controversy Portfolio Carefully” | People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 1: Steven Pinker

By cataloging the steady march of human progress, the Harvard psychologist and linguist has become a very public intellectual. But the self-declared “polite Canadian” has managed to enrage people on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Steve Levitt tries to understand why. 

Season 9, Episode 48

Most Americans agree that racial discrimination has been, and remains, a big problem. But that is where the agreement ends. And: research shows that having a distinctively Black name doesn’t affect your economic future. But what is the day-to-day reality of living with such a name? To find out more, check out the podcasts from […]

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

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

Season 9, Episode 17

Research shows that having a distinctively black name doesn’t affect your economic future. But what is the day-to-day reality of living with such a name? Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, a newly-minted Ph.D., is well-qualified to answer this question. Her verdict: the data don’t tell the whole story. To find out more, check out the podcasts from […]

Season 9, Episode 16

A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny? To find out more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “How Much Does Your Name Matter?”

Hello, My Name Is Marijuana Pepsi! (Ep. 387)

Research shows that having a distinctively black name doesn’t affect your economic future. But what is the day-to-day reality of living with such a name? Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, a newly-minted Ph.D., is well-qualified to answer this question. Her verdict: the data don’t tell the whole story.