EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious is an award-winning weekly podcast hosted by Russ Roberts of Shalem College in Jerusalem and Stanford's Hoover Institution. The eclectic guest list includes authors, doctors, psychologists, historians, philosophers, economists, and more. Learn how the health care system really works, the serenity that comes from humility, the challenge of interpreting data, how potato chips are made, what it's like to run an upscale Manhattan restaurant, what caused the 2008 financial crisis, the nature of consciousness, and more. EconTalk has been taking the Monday out of Mondays since 2006. All 900+ episodes are available in the archive. Go to for transcripts, related resources, and comments.


Mon Jun 24 2024

René Girard, Mimesis, and Conflict (with Cynthia Haven)

Rene Girardmemesisimitationconflictscapegoating

This episode explores Rene Girard's theory of memesis, which suggests that all desire is rooted in imitation. It delves into the role of imitation in human behavior, its connection to conflict, and how religion has historically used scapegoating to control violence. The episode also examines forgiveness as a means to resolve conflicts, drawing from biblical stories like Joseph forgiving his brothers. It emphasizes the continuous struggle for forgiveness and the importance of self-examination and personal sanctity. The episode concludes by discussing the unconscious nature of imitation and the positive influence it can have on individuals.


Mon Jun 17 2024

Does Market Failure Justify Government Intervention? (with Michael Munger)

government failuremarket fluctuationsgovernment interventionresource allocationindustrial policy

This episode explores the concept of government failure and the role of government intervention in addressing market fluctuations. It discusses different schools of thought on government intervention, the process of discovering correct prices, and the challenges of resource allocation. The debate on government intervention in industrial policy and healthcare is examined, along with the role of expertise and government institutions. The episode also explores procedural challenges in government decision-making and the effectiveness of bureaucracy. It concludes by discussing individual initiatives and the importance of public sector experimentation.


Mon Jun 10 2024

How the Constitution Can Bring Us Together (with Yuval Levin)

American ConstitutionUnityPolitical DivisionsBalance of PowerElectoral Systems

The episode explores Yuvall Levin's book 'American Covenant' and its aim to reintroduce the Constitution to Americans. It discusses the challenges of unity in a diverse society, misconceptions about unity, and the role of the Constitution in promoting collaboration despite differing perspectives. The episode also delves into divisions in American politics, the purpose of the American system, negotiation and competition, balance of power, electoral systems, limits on government power, and the American national character. It concludes with a focus on preserving the constitutional system and ensuring social peace.


Mon Jun 03 2024

Injustice and the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (with Dwayne Betts)

Martin Luther King Jr.PrisonsIncarcerationNonviolent ProtestsJustice

This episode explores the involvement of Dwayne Betz in distributing Martin Luther King Jr.'s work in prisons. It delves into King's letter from a Birmingham jail, reflections on societal changes, the role of the church, addressing unjust laws, personal experiences of incarceration, self-love and personal growth, heartwarming interactions, and the impact of the Freedom Reads Project. The episode concludes with discussions on expanding freedom libraries and personal reflections.


Mon May 27 2024

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Covid Vaccine (with Vinay Prasad)

COVID-19vaccinessafety signalsvaccine effectivenessmask-wearing

This episode covers a wide range of topics related to COVID-19 vaccines, including safety signals, vaccine effectiveness, timing of vaccine approval, mask-wearing attitudes, adverse events, long-term effects, declining trust in experts, and placebo effects in healthcare decisions. The discussions highlight controversies, policy errors, concerns about mandates, and the importance of accurate information.


Mon May 20 2024

Purpose, Pleasure, and Meaning in a World Without Work (with Nicholas Bostrom)

technologyfuture societyhuman existencework-life balanceeducation

The episode explores the concept of a 'solved world' where practical problems are already solved by advanced AI and robots. It raises questions about the meaning of human life and work in such a world, as well as the challenges of adapting cultural norms to new technologies. The potential impact of technical maturity and post-instrumentality on human motivation and behavior is considered, along with the limitations of technological progress in understanding ourselves. The episode also delves into the role of technology in human connection, the possibilities offered by technological advancements, and the complexities of defining a good human life. Nicholas Bostrom shares his perspective on the future, describing himself as a 'fretful optimist' and 'moderate fatalist.'


Mon May 13 2024

Glenn Loury Tells All

memoirrace issuespersonal growthadvocacyracial inequality

This episode features economist and author Glenn Lowry discussing his memoir, 'Late Admissions Confessions of a Black Conservative.' Glenn shares personal revelations, reflecting on his struggles with infidelities, drug use, arrests, and his journey as an observer of race issues in America. The episode explores themes of self-realization, racial inequality, personal growth, and advocacy.


Mon May 06 2024

Living with the Constitution (with A.J. Jacobs)

ConstitutionLiving ConstitutionFree SpeechSupreme CourtInterpreting the Constitution

This episode explores author AJ Jacobs' immersive experience in living constitutionally, drawing parallels between the Constitution and religious texts. It delves into the evolution of free speech rights, the role of the Supreme Court, and the challenges of interpreting the Constitution. The episode also examines the impact of living constitutionally at home, reviving election traditions, and the extraordinary story of the 27th Amendment. It concludes with discussions on presidential power, pomp and rituals, and the importance of citizen participation in democracy.


Mon Apr 29 2024

The Top EconTalk Conversations of 2023 (with Russ Roberts)

Podcast AnniversaryListener EngagementTeaching MethodsObedienceIsraeli-Palestinian Conflict

The episode covers a range of topics including the podcast's anniversary, listener engagement, teaching methods, obedience, missile attacks in Israel, shifting interests, reflections on life, a study on vertebral blasti, pain relief, and gratitude to listeners.


Mon Apr 22 2024

Seeking Immortality (with Paul Bloom)

AI simulationsDeceased loved onesEthical implicationsSocietal impactGrief

The episode explores the concept of creating AI simulations of deceased loved ones and the ethical, emotional, and societal implications. It delves into the longing for immortality, the impact on real human relationships, and the potential therapeutic uses of AI simulations. The discussion also touches on religion, grief, moral obligations, and the importance of balancing technology with real human connections. Ultimately, it emphasizes the depth and irreplaceability of interactions with real human beings.

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