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No. 135

How to Grow a White Rhino

Thomas Hildebrandt is trying to bring the northern white rhinoceros back from the brink of extinction. The wildlife veterinarian tells Steve about the far-out techniques he employs, why we might see woolly mammoths in the future, and why he was frustrated the day the Berlin Wall came down.


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

She is one of the best basketball players ever. She’s won multiple championships, including five Olympic gold medals and four W.N.B.A. titles. 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 The Magazine’s Body Issue.

No. 134

Why Do We Still Teach People to Calculate?

Conrad Wolfram wants to transform the way we teach math — by taking advantage of computers. The creator of Computer-Based Maths convinced the Estonian government to give his radical curriculum a try — so why is the rest of the world so resistant?

No. 133

Pay Attention! (Your Body Will Thank You)

Ellen Langer is a psychologist at Harvard who studies the mind-body connection. She’s published some of the most remarkable scientific findings Steve has ever encountered. Can we really improve our physical health by changing our mind?


UPDATE: John Green’s Reluctant Rocket Ship Ride

Author and YouTuber John Green thought his breakout bestseller wouldn’t be a commercial success, wrote 40,000 words for one sentence, and brought Steve to tears.

No. 132

Suleika Jaouad’s Survival Mechanisms

Suleika Jaouad was diagnosed with cancer at 22. She made her illness the subject of a New York Times column and a memoir, Between Two Kingdoms. She and Steve talk about what it means to live with a potentially fatal illness, how to talk to people who’ve gone through a tragedy, and ways to encourage medical donations.

No. 131

Getting Old, Adventurously

Caroline Paul is a thrill-seeker and writer who is on a quest to encourage women to get outside and embrace adventure as they age. She and Steve talk about fighting fires, walking on airplane wings, and finding awe in birdwatching.


UPDATE: What It’s Like to Be Steve Levitt’s Daughters

Steve shows a different side of himself in very personal interviews with his two oldest daughters. Amanda talks about growing up with social anxiety and her decision not to go to college, while Lily speaks candidly about her battle with anorexia and the conversation she had with Steve that led her to seek treatment.

No. 130

Is Our Concept of Freedom All Wrong?

The economist Joseph Stiglitz has devoted his life to exposing the limits of markets. He tells Steve about winning an argument with fellow Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, why small governments don’t lead to more freedom, and why he’s not afraid to be an advocate.

No. 129

How to Fix Medical Research

Monica Bertagnolli went from a childhood on a cattle ranch to a career as a surgeon to a top post in the Biden administration. As director of the National Institutes of Health, she’s working to improve the way we find new treatments — despite regulatory constraints and tight budgets.


Remembering Daniel Kahneman

Nobel laureate, bestselling author, and groundbreaking psychologist Daniel Kahneman died in March. In 2021 he talked with Steve Levitt — his friend and former business partner — about his book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment (cowritten with Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein) and much more.

No. 128

Are Our Tools Becoming Part of Us?

Google researcher Blaise Agüera y Arcas spends his work days developing artificial intelligence models and his free time conducting surveys for fun. He tells Steve how he designed an algorithm for the U.S. Navy at 14, how he discovered the truth about printing-press pioneer Johannes Gutenberg, and when A.I. first blew his mind.

No. 127

Rajiv Shah Never Wastes a Crisis

After Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Rajiv Shah headed the largest humanitarian effort in U.S. history. As chief economist of the Gates Foundation he tried to immunize almost a billion children. He tells Steve why it’s important to take big gambles, follow the data, and own up to your mistakes.

No. 126

How to Have Great Conversations

The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg wrote his new book in an attempt to learn how to communicate better. Steve shares how the book helped him understand his own conversational weaknesses.

No. 125

Is Gynecology the Best Innovation Ever?

Cat Bohannon’s new book puts female anatomy at the center of human evolution. She tells Steve why it takes us so long to give birth, what breast milk is really for, and why the human reproductive system is a flaming pile of garbage.

No. 124

Daron Acemoglu on Economics, Politics, and Power

Economist Daron Acemoglu likes to tackle big questions. He tells Steve how colonialism still affects us today, who benefits from new technology, and why democracy wasn’t always a sure thing.

No. 123

Walt Hickey Wants to Track Your Eyeballs

Journalist Walt Hickey uses data to understand how culture works. He and Steve talk about why China hasn’t produced any hit movies yet and how he got his own avatar in the Madden NFL video game.

No. 122

Arnold Schwarzenegger Has Some Advice for You

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a bodybuilder, an actor, a governor, and, now, an author. He tells Steve how he’s managed to succeed in so many fields — and what to do when people throw eggs at you.

No. 121

Exploring Physics, from Eggshells to Oceans

Physicist Helen Czerski loves to explain how the world works. She talks with Steve about studying bubbles, setting off explosives, and how ocean waves have changed the course of history.

No. 120

Werner Herzog Thinks His Films Are a Distraction

The filmmaker doesn’t want to be known only for his movies. He tells Steve why he considers himself a writer first, how it feels to be recognized for his role in The Mandalorian, and why he once worked as a rodeo clown.

No. 119

Higher Education Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?

Economist Michael D. Smith says universities are scrambling to protect a status quo that deserves to die. He tells Steve why the current system is unsustainable, and what’s at stake if nothing changes.

No. 118

“My God, This Is a Transformative Power”

Computer scientist Fei-Fei Li had a wild idea: download one billion images from the internet and teach a computer to recognize them. She ended up advancing the state of artificial intelligence — and she hopes that will turn out to be a good thing for humanity.

No. 117

Nate Silver Says We’re Bad at Making Predictions

Data scientist Nate Silver gained attention for his election predictions. But even the best prognosticators get it wrong sometimes. He talks to Steve about making good decisions with data, why he’d rather write a newsletter than an academic paper, and how online poker led him to the world of politics.

No. 116

Abraham Verghese Thinks Medicine Can Do Better

Abraham Verghese is a physician and a best-selling author — in that order, he says. He explains the difference between curing and healing, and tells Steve why doctors should spend more time with patients and less with electronic health records.


Nobel Laureate Claudia Goldin on “Greedy Work” and the Wage Gap

Claudia Goldin is the newest winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Steve spoke to her in 2021 about how inflexible jobs and family responsibilities make it harder for women to earn wages equal to their male counterparts.

No. 115

The Future of Therapy Is Psychedelic

For 37 years, Rick Doblin has been pushing the F.D.A. to approve treating post-traumatic stress disorder with MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. He tells Steve why he persisted for so long, why he doesn’t like calling drug use “recreational,” and what he learned from his pet wolf.

No. 114

Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Life?

Psychologist Thomas Curran argues that perfectionism isn’t about high standards — it’s about never being enough. He explains how the drive to be perfect is harming education, the economy, and our mental health.

No. 113

Do We Have Evidence of Alien Life?

Avi Loeb is a Harvard astronomer who argues that we’ve already encountered extraterrestrial technology. His approach to the search for interstellar objects is scientific, but how plausible is his argument?

No. 112

Reading Dostoevsky Behind Bars

Reginald Dwayne Betts spent more than eight years in prison. Today he’s a Yale Law graduate, a MacArthur Fellow, and a poet. His nonprofit works to build libraries in prisons so that more incarcerated people can find hope.

No. 111

Can a Moonshot Approach to Mental Health Work?

Obi Felten used to launch projects for X, Google’s innovation lab, but she’s now tackling mental health. She explains why Steve’s dream job was soul-destroying for her, and how peer support could transform the therapeutic industry.

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