People I (Mostly) Admire

By Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher

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Category: Society & Culture

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Subscribers: 1904
Reviews: 6

RK Hall
 Mar 8, 2021
I love this podcast. So relaxed, but so intense. Great guests and wonderful interviews.


 Feb 14, 2021


 Feb 9, 2021

Figo
 Aug 23, 2020
Great interview. Fascinating subject matter and some laugh out loud stories!


 Aug 23, 2020

Description

Steve Levitt, the iconoclastic University of Chicago economist and co-author of the Freakonomics book series, tracks down other high achievers and asks questions that only he would think to ask. Guests include all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, WNBA champion Sue Bird, Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui, and neuroscientist/actress Mayim Bialik. People I (Mostly) Admire is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network. 


Episode Date
37. Sendhil Mullainathan Thinks Messing Around is the Best Use of Your Time
3129
He’s a professor of computation and behavioral science at the University of Chicago, MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, and author. Steve and Sendhil laugh their way through a conversation about the importance of play, the benefits of change, and why we remember so little about the books we’ve read — and how Sendhil’s new app solves this problem. 
Jul 24, 2021
36. How Rahm Emanuel Would Run the World
2550
In this interview, first heard on Freakonomics Radio last year, Steve talks with the former top adviser to presidents Clinton and Obama, about his record — and his reputation. And Rahm explains that while he believes in the power of the federal government, as former mayor of Chicago, he says that cities are where problems really get solved. 
Jul 17, 2021
35. David Epstein Knows Something About Almost Everything
3056
He’s been an Arctic scientist, a sports journalist, and is now a best-selling author of science books. His latest, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, makes the argument that early specialization does not give you a head start in life. David and Steve talk about why frustration is a good sign, and why the 10,000-hour rule is definitely not a rule. 
Jul 10, 2021
34. Maya Shankar Is Changing People’s Behavior — and Her Own
2726
She used to run a behavioral unit in the Obama administration, and now has a similar role at Google. Maya and Steve talk about the power (and limits) of behavioral economics and also how people respond to change — the topic of her new podcast A Slight Change of Plans.
Jul 03, 2021
33. Travis Tygart Is Coming for Cheaters — Just Ask Lance Armstrong
2741
He’s the C.E.O. of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which, under his charge, exposed the most celebrated American cyclist as a cheater. And Steve’s been studying cheaters for the last 25 years, so he’s also excited to talk to Travis about the incentives to cheat and the advances in testing technology — and offers his services as an anti-doping data detective for the sport of horse racing. 
Jun 26, 2021
32. Angela Duckworth Explains How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy
3066
She’s the author of the bestselling book Grit, and a University of Pennsylvania professor of psychology — a field Steve says he knows nothing about. But once Angela gives Steve a quick tutorial on “goal conflict,” he is suddenly a fan. They also talk parenting, self-esteem, and how easy it is to learn econometrics if you feel like it. 
Jun 19, 2021
31. Peter Leeson on Why Trial-by-Fire Wasn’t Barbaric and Why Pirates Were Democratic
2769
He’s an economist who studies even weirder things than Steve. They discuss whether economics is the best of the social sciences, and why it’s a good idea to get a tattoo of a demand curve on your bicep.
Jun 12, 2021
30. Dambisa Moyo Says Foreign Aid Can’t Solve Problems, but Maybe Corporations Can
2642
The African-born economist has written four bestselling books, including Dead Aid, which Bill Gates described as “promoting evil.” In her new book about corporate boards, Dambisa uses her experience with global corporations to explore how they can better meet society’s demands. And she explains to Steve why, even as a Harvard and Oxford-educated economist, her goal in life might sound “a little bit like a Miss America pageant.”   
Jun 05, 2021
29. Bruce Friedrich Thinks There’s a Better Way to Eat Meat
2739
Levitt rarely interviews advocates, but the founder of the Good Food Institute is different. Once an outspoken — and sometimes outlandish — animal-rights activist, Bruce has come to believe that market-driven innovation and scientific advancement are the best ways to reduce global meat consumption. Steve and Bruce talk about the negative externalities of factory-farmed meat, and why Bruce gave up antics like streaking at Buckingham Palace.
May 29, 2021
28. Professor Carl Hart Argues All Drugs Should Be Legal — Can He Convince Steve?
2699
As a neuroscientist and psychology professor at Columbia University who studies the immediate and long-term effects of illicit substances, Carl Hart believes that all drugs — including heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine — should be legalized. Steve talks to Carl about his new book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups, and Carl tells Steve why decriminalizing drugs is as American as apple pie. 
May 22, 2021
27. Daniel Kahneman on Why Our Judgment is Flawed — and What to Do About It
2645
Nobel laureate, best-selling author, and groundbreaking psychologist Daniel Kahneman is also a friend and former business partner of Steve’s. In discussing Danny’s new book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, the two spar over inconsistencies in criminal sentencing and Danny tells Steve that “Your attitude is unusual” — no surprise there. 
May 15, 2021
26. Memory Champion Nelson Dellis Helps Steve Train His Brain
2146
He’s one of the world’s leading competitors, having won four U.S. memory tournaments and holding the record for most names memorized in 15 minutes (235!). But Nelson Dellis claims he was born with an average memory and that anyone can learn his tricks. Steve gives Nelson’s techniques a shot, without much hope — and is surprised by the result.
May 08, 2021
25. Sam Harris: “Spirituality Is a Loaded Term.”
2586
He’s a cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher who has written five best-selling books. Sam Harris also hosts the Making Sense podcast and helps people discover meditation through his Waking Up app. Sam explains to Steve how to become spiritual as a skeptic and commit to never lying again.
May 01, 2021
Nathan Myhrvold: “I Am Interested in Lots of Things, and That's Actually a Bad Strategy.” (Episode 6 Rebroadcast)
2976
He graduated high school at 14, and by 23 had several graduate degrees and was a research assistant with Stephen Hawking. He became the first chief technology officer at Microsoft (without having ever studied computer science) and then started a company focused on big questions — like how to provide the world with clean energy and how to optimize pizza-baking. Find out what makes Nathan Myhrvold’s fertile mind tick, and which of his many ideas Steve Levitt likes the most.
Apr 24, 2021
24. Amaryllis Fox: “What Does This New Version of Mutually Assured Destruction Look Like?”
3503
She spent nearly a decade as an undercover C.I.A. operative working to prevent terrorism. More recently, she hosted The Business of Drugs on Netflix. Amaryllis Fox — now Kennedy — explains why intelligence work requires empathy, and she soothes Steve’s fears about weapons of mass destruction. 
Apr 17, 2021
23. Greg Norman & Mark Broadie: Why Golf Beats an Orgasm and Why Data Beats Everything
2550
Steve Levitt is obsessed with golf — and he’s pretty good at it too. As a thinly-veiled ploy to improve his own game, Steve talks to two titans of the sport: Greg “The Shark” Norman, who was the world’s top-ranked golfer for more than six years; and Mark Broadie, a Columbia professor whose data analysis changed how pros play the game.
Apr 10, 2021
22. Sal Khan: “If It Works for 15 Cousins, It Could Work for a Billion People.”
2658
Khan Academy grew out of Sal Khan’s online math tutorials for his extended family. It’s now a platform used by more than 115 million people in 190 countries. So what does Khan want to do next? How about reinventing in-school learning, too? Find out why Steve nearly moved to Silicon Valley to be part of Khan's latest venture. 
Apr 03, 2021
21. Pete Docter: “What If Monsters Really Do Exist?”
2622
He’s the chief creative officer of Pixar, and the Academy Award-winning director of Soul, Inside Out, Up, and Monsters, Inc. Pete Docter and Steve talk about Pixar’s scrappy beginnings, why it costs $200 million to make an animated film, and the movie moment that changed Steve’s life.
Mar 27, 2021
20. John Donohue: “I'm Frequently Called a Treasonous Enemy of the Constitution.”
2234
He’s a law professor with a Ph.D. in economics and a tendency for getting into fervid academic debates. Over 20 years ago, he and Steve began studying the impact of legalized abortion on crime. John and Steve talk about guns, the death penalty, the heat they took from their joint research,  and why it’s frustratingly difficult to prove truth in the social sciences.
Mar 20, 2021
19. Marina Nitze: “If You Googled ‘Business Efficiency Consultant,’ I Was the Only Result.”
2283
At 27— and without a college degree — she was named chief technology officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, Marina Nitze is trying to reform the foster care system. She tells Steve how she hacked the V.A.’s bureaucracy, opens up about her struggle with Type 1 diabetes, and explains how she was building websites for soap opera stars when she was just 12 years old.
Mar 13, 2021
18. Robert Sapolsky: “I Don’t Think We Have Any Free Will Whatsoever.”
2515
He’s one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, with a focus on the physiological effects of stress. (For years, he spent his summers in Kenya, alone except for the baboons he was observing.) Steve asks Robert why we value human life over animals, why he’s lost faith in the criminal-justice system, and how to look casual when you’re about to blow-dart a very large and potentially unhappy primate.
Mar 06, 2021
17. Emily Oster: “I Am a Woman Who Is Prominently Discussing Vaginas.”
2545
In addition to publishing best-selling books about pregnancy and child-rearing, Emily Oster is a respected economist at Brown University. Over the course of the pandemic, she’s become the primary collector of data about Covid-19 in schools. Steve and Emily discuss how she became an advocate for school reopening, how economists think differently from the average person, and whether pregnant women really need to avoid coffee.
Feb 27, 2021
16. Joshua Jay: “Humans Are So, So Easy to Fool.”
2538
He’s a world-renowned magician who’s been performing since he was seven years old. But Joshua Jay is also an author, toy maker, and consultant for film and television. Steve Levitt talks to him about how magicians construct tricks, how Joshua’s academic studies of magic have influenced Levitt’s life, and whether Jesus might have been a magician.
Feb 20, 2021
15. Tim Harford: “If You Can Make Sure You're Not An Idiot, You've Done Well.”
2550
He’s a former World Bank economist who became a prolific journalist and the author of one of Steve Levitt’s favorite books, The Undercover Economist. Tim Harford lives in England, where he’s made it his mission to help the public understand statistics. In their conversation, Steve gives Tim some feedback on his new book, The Data Detective, contemplates if it’s possible to tell great stories with data, and Tim explains how making mistakes can be fun. 
Feb 13, 2021
14. Yul Kwon (Part 2): “Hey, Do You Have Any Bright Ideas?”
1762
He’s so fascinating that Steve Levitt brought him back for a second conversation. Yul Kwon currently works at Google, but he’s been a lawyer, political organizer, government regulator, organ donation activist, and Survivor winner. Steve asks Yul why he’s so altruistic, how Google and Apple are helping track COVID-19, and whether the best way to pick a president might be a reality show.
Feb 06, 2021
13. Yul Kwon: “Don't Try to Change Yourself All at Once.”
2113
He has been a lawyer, an instructor at the F.B.I. Academy, the owner of a frozen-yogurt chain, and a winner of the TV show Survivor. Today, Kwon works at Google, where he helped build tools to track the spread of COVID-19. But things haven’t always come easily for him. Steve Levitt talks to Kwon about his debilitating childhood anxieties, his compulsion to choose the hardest path in life, and how Kwon used his obsession with game theory to stage a come-from-behind victory on Survivor.
Jan 30, 2021
12. Sue Bird: “You Have to Pay the Superstars.”
2425
She is one of the best basketball players ever. She’s won multiple championships, including four Olympic gold medals and four W.N.B.A. titles — the most recent in 2020, just before turning 40. 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’s The Body Issue.   
Jan 23, 2021
11. Paul Romer: “I Figured Out How to Get Myself Fired From the World Bank.”
2050
For many economists — Steve Levitt included — there is perhaps no greater inspiration than Paul Romer, the now-Nobel laureate who at a young age redefined the discipline and has maintained a passion for introducing new ideas to staid debates. Levitt finds out what makes Romer a serial “quitter,” why you can’t manufacture big ideas, and what happened when Romer tried to start a charter city.
Jan 09, 2021
10. Suzanne Gluck: “I'm a Person Who Can Convince Other People to Do Things”
2171
She might not be a household name, but Suzanne Gluck is one of the most powerful people in the book industry. Her slush pile is a key entry point to the biggest publishers in the U.S., and the authors she represents have sold more than 100 million books worldwide. Steve Levitt talks with Gluck — his own agent — about negotiating a deal, advising prospective authors, and convincing him to co-write Freakonomics.
Dec 26, 2020
9. Moncef Slaoui: "It’s Unfortunate That It Takes a Crisis for This to Happen"
2196
Born in Morocco and raised mostly by a single mother, Moncef Slaoui is now one of the world’s most influential scientists. As the head of Operation Warp Speed — the U.S. government’s Covid-19 vaccine program — Slaoui has overseen the development and distribution of a new vaccine at a pace once deemed impossible. Steve Levitt finds out how the latest generation of vaccines improve on their predecessors, why “educated intuition” is important in innovation, and what we can do to be better prepared for future pandemics.
Dec 12, 2020
8. Peter Attia: “I Definitely Lost a Lot of IQ Points That Day”
2305
He’s been an engineer, a surgeon, a management consultant, and even a boxer. Now he’s a physician focused on the science of longevity. Peter Attia talks with Steve Levitt about the problem with immortality, what’s missing from our Covid response, and why nicotine is underrated.
Nov 28, 2020
7. Caverly Morgan: "I Am Not This Voice. I Am Not This Narrative."
2319
She showed up late and confused to her first silent retreat, but Caverly Morgan eventually trained for eight years in silence at a Zen monastery. Now her mindfulness-education program Peace in Schools is part of the high-school curriculum in Portland, Ore.  Steve Levitt finds out what daily life is like in a silent monastery, why teens find it easier than adults to learn meditation, and what happy children can teach their parents.
Nov 14, 2020
6. Nathan Myhrvold: “I Am Interested in Lots of Things, and That's Actually a Bad Strategy”
2851
He graduated high school at 14, and by 23 had several graduate degrees and was a research assistant with Stephen Hawking. He became the first chief technology officer at Microsoft (without having ever studied computer science) and then started a company focused on big questions — like how to provide the world with clean energy and how to optimize pizza-baking. Find out what makes Nathan Myhrvold’s fertile mind tick, and which of his many ideas Steve Levitt likes the most.
Oct 31, 2020
5. Susan Wojcicki: “Hey, Let’s Go Buy YouTube!”
1836
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.
Oct 17, 2020
Steve Levitt: “I'm Not as Childlike as I'd Like to Be” (Bonus Episode)
2301
Steve Levitt has so far occupied the interviewer chair on this show, but in a special live event — recorded over Zoom and presented by WNYC and the Greene Space — the microphone is turned toward him. His Freakonomics friend and co-author Stephen Dubner checks in on the wisdom Levitt has extracted from his interviews, finds out why Levitt is happiest when angering everyone across the political spectrum, and asks Levitt why he ends every interview with the same question.
Oct 10, 2020
4. Ken Jennings: “Don’t Neglect the Thing That Makes You Weird”
2539
It was only in his late twenties that America’s favorite brainiac began to seriously embrace his love of trivia. Now he holds the “Greatest of All Time” title on Jeopardy! Steve Levitt digs into how he trained for the show, what it means to have a "geographic memory," and why we lie to our children.
Oct 03, 2020
3. Kerwin Charles: “One Does Not Know Where an Insight Will Come From”
2369
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. 
Sep 19, 2020
2. Mayim Bialik: “I Started Crying When I Realized How Beautiful the Universe Is”
2727
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.
Sep 05, 2020
1. Steven Pinker: "I Manage My Controversy Portfolio Carefully”
2544
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.
Aug 22, 2020
Introducing “People I (Mostly) Admire”
286
Steve Levitt has spent decades as an academic economist, “studying strange phenomena and human behavior in weird circumstances.” Now he’s turning his curiosity to something new: interviewing some of the most interesting, unorthodox people around — from actresses to athletes, authors to inventors. Here is a preview of Levitt’s new podcast, which premieres August 21st.  New episodes every two weeks. “People I (Mostly) Admire” is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.
Jul 31, 2020