Conversations with Tyler
By Mercatus Center at George Mason University
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Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
||CleanEric Schmidt on the Life-Changing Magic of Systematizing, Scaling, and Saying Thanks (Live)||"There's no simple formula for success. But it is well understood that if you yell at people enough, they will quit."||11/7/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBen Thompson on Business and Tech||And why Taiwanese breakfast is the best breakfast.||10/24/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRob Wiblin interviews Tyler on *Stubborn Attachments*||Finally we find out what Tyler — and Tyrone — really believes.||10/16/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanPaul Krugman on Politics, Inequality, and Following Your Curiosity||“Be interested in a lot of things, but when you find something that really grabs your attention, work at it seriously. Figure stuff out.”||10/10/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBruno Maçães on the Spirit of Adventure||He’s built a career teaching, advising, writing, and talking to people across the globe. Just don’t ask him about Canada.||9/26/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMichele Gelfand on Tight and Loose Cultures||Where is Tyler most at risk of getting shot at a bar?||9/12/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanClaire Lehmann on Speaking Freely||This Aussie thinks Americans are too afraid to speak their mind.||8/29/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMichael Pollan on the Science and Sublimity of Psychedelics||Plus, his latest thoughts of food production, GMOs, and writing well.||8/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMichelle Dawson on Autism and Atypicality||No one in the world more appreciates the challenges facing a better understanding of autism than Michelle Dawson.||8/1/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanVitalik Buterin on Cryptoeconomics and Markets in Everything||Is he secretly the best young economist today?||7/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJuan Pablo Villarino on Travel and Trust||The world's best hitchhiker shares the tricks of the trade.||7/3/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanElisa New on Poetry in America and Beyond||Anyone can have a blast reading a poem. Even you!||6/20/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanDavid Brooks on Youth, Morality, and Loneliness (Live at Mason)||"This is the most intimidating interview I've ever sat down for because (a) you know me, and (b) you actually read my stuff."||6/6/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanNassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math (Plus special guest Bryan Caplan)||The best thing to do on an airplane? Twitter fight!||5/23/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBryan Caplan on Learning across Disciplines (Live at Mason Econ)||"For me, the main value of a colleague is lunch."||5/9/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBalaji Srinivasan on the Power and Promise of the Blockchain||The new CTO of Coinbase shares his excitement for a world where finding financing is as easy as sending a tweet.||4/25/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanAgnes Callard on the Theory of Everything||Is parenting undertheorized? Should we fear death? And if granted immortality, would we bore of bodily pleasures? Tyler wants to know.||4/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMartina Navratilova on Shaping Herself (Live at Mason)||“Tyler, you need to drink more water. You’re not hydrating at all.”||3/28/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanChris Blattman on Development, Conflict, and Doing What’s Interesting||Chris Blattman’s made his career as a development economist by finding a place he likes and finding a reason to live there.||3/14/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRobin Hanson on Signaling and Self-Deception (Live at Mason Econ)||Listening to this podcast says a lot about you.||2/28/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMatt Levine Live at Bloomberg HQ||Weird is just a synonym for interesting.||2/14/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanCharles C. Mann on Shaping Tomorrow’s World and the Limits to Growth||And he doesn’t do meetings.||1/31/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRoss Douthat on Narrative and Religion (Live at Mason)||Has Ross succeeded in convincing Tyler to believe in God — or at least go to church more?||1/17/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanAndy Weir on the Economics of Sci-Fi and Space||The author of The Martian and Artemis joins Tyler Cowen to talk about his unique blending of economics and engineering into hard sci-fi.||12/20/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanDoug Irwin on US Trade Policy||Tyler thinks Douglas Irwin has just released the best history of American trade policy ever written. So for this conversation Tyler went easy on Doug, asking softball questions like: Have tariffs ever driven growth? What trade exceptions should there...||11/29/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSujatha Gidla on being an Ant amongst the Elephants (Live)||Sujatha Gidla was an untouchable in India, but moved to the United States at the age of 26 and is now the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York City Subway. In her memoir Ants Among Elephants, she explores the antiquities of..||11/15/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSteve Teles and Brink Lindsey on *The Captured Economy*||What happens when a liberal and a libertarian get together? In the case of Steve Teles and Brink Lindsey, they write a book. And then Tyler separates them for a podcast interview about that book, prisoner’s dilemma style. How much inequality...||11/1/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMary Roach on Disgust, Death, and Danger (Live at Mason)||Legal writing was never Mary Roach’s thing. She describes that short-lived stint as an inscrutable “bringing forth of multisyllabic words.” Instead, she’s forged a career by letting curiosity lead the way. The result has been a series of...||10/18/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanLarry Summers on Macroeconomics, Mentorship, and Avoiding Complacency (Live)||The economist, President Emeritus at Harvard University, and former Treasury Secretary joins Tyler to discuss innovation in higher education, Herman Melville, the Fed, Mexico, Russia, China, the Larry Summers production function, philanthropy and...||9/20/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanDave Barry on Humor, Writing, and Life as a Florida Man||Though most know him first as a humor columnist, Dave Barry’s career has spanned many forms of media, including books, movies, TV, and music. Driving this relentless output, says Barry, is the constant worry he’ll find himself stuck in a...||8/16/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitDave Rubin on Digital Media, Crowdfunding, and Comedy (Live)||Today many YouTube channels have more influence than traditional TV shows. This fact is not lost on Dave Rubin, who started his talk show career in traditional media, but soon decided to strike out on his own. He now hosts The Rubin Report, which has...||8/2/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanAtul Gawande on Priorities, Big and Small||The surgeon, researcher, and celebrated writer joined Tyler for a conversation on why Watson will never diagnose your illness, what George Church’s narcolepsy teaches us about CRISPR, what’s missing in medical education, Michael Crichton’s...||7/19/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBen Sasse on the Space between Nebraska and Neverland (Live at Mason)||The US senator and former college president joined Tyler for a conversation on adolescence, adulthood, driving for Uber, loving Luther, hate-reading Rousseau, the decline of small towns, backpacking across Europe, America’s peculiar fondness for...||6/28/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEdward Luce on The Retreat of Western Liberalism (Live)||Edward Luce has a new book out about the rising crisis in Western liberalism, so naturally Tyler’s first question to him dealt with James II and William of Orange. #gloriousrevolution In this bonus audio recorded at a Mercatus event last week,...||6/21/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJill Lepore on Traveling through Time||Is time like a line, a stretched out accordion, buried silos, or a flat circle? We concoct many ways to think about the relationship between the present and the past, but according to Jill Lepore one constant endures: “When you’re writing history,..||6/14/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanTyler Cowen and Steve Davies talk Theresa May, Brexit, and Europe (Live)||The UK is holding a big election on June 8, so today we’re bringing you some bonus audio on that topic featuring Tyler and Steve Davies of the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs. They talk about how the general election could shape the terms..||6/7/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRaj Chetty on Teachers, Social Mobility, and How to Find Answers to Big Questions||A high school teacher once told Raj Chetty he’d some day serve on the Federal Reserve Board. At the the time Raj thought the comment was silly, since he was busy working in the laboratory on staining techniques for electron microscopy and was set to..||5/24/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGarry Kasparov on AI, Chess, and the Future of Creativity||The chess grandmaster, political activist, and author joins Tyler for a conversation on artificial intelligence, Russia, Putin, how education must change, favorite cities for chess, the most likely challenger to Magnus Carlsen, Tolstoy v. Dostoevsky,...||5/10/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanPatrick Collison has a Few Questions for Tyler (Live at Stripe)||A few months ago, Tyler asked Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, to be on the show. Patrick agreed, but only under the condition that the be the one to do the interviewing. Thus, what follows is the conversation Patrick wanted to have with Tyler, not...||4/12/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMalcolm Gladwell Wants to Make the World Safe for Mediocrity (Live at Mason)||Journalist, author, and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell joins Tyler for a conversation on Joyce Gladwell, Caribbean identity, satire as a weapon, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, Harvard’s under-theorized endowment, why early childhood intervention is..||3/15/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean*The Complacent Class* with Katherine Mangu-Ward (Live at Mason)||In this bonus episode, Editor-in-chief of Reason Katherine Mangu-Ward interviews Tyler about *The Complacent Class.* Make sure to listen all the way to the end for an answer Katherine describes as #PeakTyler.||3/13/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanRabbi David Wolpe on Leadership, Religion, and Identity (Live at Sixth & I)||Named one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of our time, Rabbi David Wolpe joins Tyler in a conversation on flawed leaders, Jewish identity in the modern world, the many portrayals of David, what’s missing in rabbinical training, playing chess..||2/15/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanChef Mark Miller on Food as the Ultimate Intellectual Exploration||Mark Miller is often called the founder of modern southwestern cuisine, but his unique anthropological approach to food has led him to explore cuisines in over 100 countries around the world. He joins Tyler for a conversation on all that he’s...||1/24/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJhumpa Lahiri on Writing, Translation, and Crossing Between Cultures (Live at Mason)||Author, teacher, and translator Jhumpa Lahiri joins Tyler for a conversation on identity, Rhode Island, writing as problem solving, reading across languages, the badness of book covers, Elena Ferrante, Bengali culture, the magic of Calcutta, Italian...||1/11/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJoseph Henrich on WEIRD Societies and Life Among Two Strange Tribes (Live at Mason)||To anthropologist Joseph Henrich, intelligence is overrated. Social learning, and its ability to influence biological evolution over time, is what really sets our species apart. He joined Tyler for a conversation on his work on cultural evolution, as...||12/14/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanFuchsia Dunlop on Chinese Food, Culture, and Travel||For centuries, China has treated its cuisine with a reverence and delight that is only just starting to emerge with Western “foodie” culture. No one understands this better than Fuchsia Dunlop, who has spent her career learning about the fantastic..||11/16/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSteven Pinker on Language, Reason, and the Future of Violence (Live at Mason)||Steven Pinker has spent an entire academic career thinking deeply about language, cognition, and human nature. Driving it all, he says, is an Enlightenment belief that the world is intelligible, science can progress, and through rational inquiry we...||11/2/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitEzra Klein on Media, Politics, and Models of the World||Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of Vox.com, joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on biases in digital media, the morality of meat-eating, how working for large organizations has changed his worldview, the psychographics of CEOs, what’s missing in public..||10/6/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMargalit Fox on Life, Death, and the Best Job in Journalism||The stereotypical obituary is a formulaic recitation of facts — dry, boring, and without craft. But Margalit Fox has shown the genre can produce some of the most memorable and moving stories in journalism. Exploiting its “pure narrative...||8/24/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMichael Orthofer on Why Fiction Matters||Michael Orthofer, one of the world’s most prolific book reviewers, joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on — what else? — books. Read to discover why Michael believes everyone should read more fiction, how we should choose books, why...||7/27/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanCass Sunstein on Judicial Minimalism, the Supreme Court, and Star Wars (Live at Mason)||Cass Sunstein joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on judicial minimalism, Bob Dylan’s best album, the metaphysics of nudging, Byatt's Possession, the ideal size of the Supreme Court, Hayek, why people should choose their own path, the benefits of a..||6/22/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanCamille Paglia on her Lifestyle of Observation (Live at Mason)||Camille Paglia joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on the brilliance of Bowie, lamb vindaloo, her lifestyle of observation, why writers need real jobs, Star Wars, Harold Bloom, Amelia Earhart, Edmund Spenser, Brazil, why she is most definitely not a...||4/25/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJonathan Haidt on Morality, Politics, Disgust, and Intellectual Diversity on Campus||Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on morality, politics, disgust, how to maintain free speech on campus, the enriching effects of LSD, antiparsimonialism, and why economists set all the interesting variables to zero||3/23/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanNate Silver on the Supreme Court and the Underrated Stat for Finding Good Food (Live at Mason)||Nate Silver joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on data, forecasting, My Bloody Valentine, the social value of gambling, Donald Trump and the presidential field, vacation advice, Supreme Court picks, the wisdom of Björk, and the most underrated...||2/23/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanKareem Abdul-Jabbar on Fighting Bruce Lee, Growing Up in Harlem, and Basketball (Live at Mason)||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on segregation, Islam, Harlem vs. LA, Earl Manigault, jazz, fighting Bruce Lee, Kareem’s conservatism, dancing with Thelonious Monk, and why no one today can shoot a skyhook.||2/2/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanCliff Asness on Comics and Why Never to Share a Gym with Cirque du Soleil (Live at Mason)||Tyler and investment strategist Cliff Asness discuss momentum and value investing strategies, disagreeing with Eugene Fama, Marvel vs. DC, the inscrutability of risk, high frequency trading, the economics of Ayn Rand, bubble logic, and why never to...||11/18/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanDani Rodrik on Premature Deindustrialization and Why the World is Second Best at Best||Tyler and Dani Rodrik discuss premature deindustrialization, the world’s trilemmas, the political economy of John le Carré, what’s so special about manufacturing, Orhan Pamuk, RCTs, and why the world is second best at best.||10/1/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanLuigi Zingales on Italy, Google and Conglomeration, and Donald Trump (Live at Mason)||In the third event of this series, Tyler and Luigi Zingales discuss Italy, Donald Trump, Antonio Gramsci, Google and conglomeration, Luchino Visconti, Starbucks, and the surprisingly high productivity of Italian cafés.||9/15/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJeffrey Sachs on Charter Cities and How to Reform Graduate Economics Education (Live at Mason)||Tyler Cowen and Jeffrey Sachs discuss the resource curse, why Russia failed and Poland succeeded, charter cities, Sach's China optimism, JFK, Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, whether Africa will be able to overcome the middle income trap, Paul Krugman, Sach's...||3/30/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanPeter Thiel on Stagnation, Innovation, and What Not to Call your Company (Live at Mason)||Peter Thiel and Tyler Cowen, both New York Times bestselling authors, are among today’s top global thought leaders and influential innovators. Listen as these two engage in a serious dialogue on the ideas and policies that will shape the future of...||3/24/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
Isn't Tyler exactly the type of person who should be conducting our interviews?
Tyler Cowen is intimidatingly, off-the-charts smart. This is a man who has probably finished a couple tomes on things like the history of crony capitalism and unorthodox view of Sri Lanka before you've had a chance to finish breakfast. This is a man who, if you challenged him with a complicated, esoteric question, would, I'd bet, instantly provide a response that you could type up verbatim and publish. This is a man who thinks as deeply as he reads widely.
Isn't that exactly the type of person who should be conducting our interviews?
The best interview show, period.
Tyler Cowen is, on paper, an economist at George Mason University. But to think of him as just an economist is like thinking of love as just sex. His brain probably violates the laws of physics by absorbing the amount of information that it does; he learns more in a month than most people do in a lifetime. He can hold forth with confident authority on economics, philosophy, natural science, psychology, sociology, art, literature, music, movies, religion, history, politics, business, culture, food, travel, geography, and pretty anything else you can think about.
On this podcast he brings his encyclopaedic—nay, superhuman—nay, demonic—knowledge to conduct the most interesting interviews I have ever heard. For every person he interviews, he has easily read all of the work of the interviewee, and all of the surrounding literature. His questions are never boring. He never asks a filler question, such as "Can you talk about what you say in that chapter". Instead, all his questions have a laserlike focus. Listening to this podcast is like being on a intellectual rollercoaster ride: it's fast; it's exhilarating; it's scary; but it's always under control.
Go listen to it now!
The best new podcast
Tyler is one of those people who can talk intelligently about a wide range of topics and he chooses interview subjects that can do the same. The questions and answers are more fascinating than any other interview show I've found. One of the best things about it is that the interview subjects I didn't expect to find interesting have been among the most interesting.