Chris Blattman on Why We Fight

episode page: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/10773529

youtube link: https://youtu.be/H-bcj1LJy80

Why did I do this show?

There are a lot of social problems in the world and Chris combines a track record of discovering ways to meaningfully and persistently change very poor societies on some of the most important dimensions. This is very important stuff!

What did I learn?

One of the great things about talking to Chris is a discrete separation of analyzing morality from violence. Sometimes we must sacrifice morals to eliminate violence. Historically, our societies have often had to choose between peace or justice.

What was my favorite part?

In our discussion for how to persistently encode social transformation Chris mentioned the congressional testimony of Fred (Mr.) Rogers. Holy cow.

Tyler Cowen on *Talent*

episode page: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/10628363

youtube link: https://youtu.be/mr2jrM0fkt0

Why did I do this show?

Tyler is an intellectual hero of mine. He’s now a three-time guest! He’s pretty much guaranteed to teach you something every day.

What was my favorite part?

I went 0 for 2 on Straussian readings. Tyler isn’t disagreeing with me, he just thinks I’m being obvious. I shall work harder for the next one!

What did I learn?

The the most important academic result, the one that drives a lot of Tyler’s own work, is that the market test is the most important test of truth. It’s kind of the end of history for academics! At least for those that ignore markets of various kinds.

Howard Kunreuther on Behavioral Economics of Risk

episode page: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/10485147

youtube link: https://youtu.be/wxSsddUAIFU

Why did I do this show?

Howard is the foremost expert on behavioral economics of insurance. I mean… I still can’t get over how it took me 20 years in this business to learn his work exists. I’m embarrassed this wasn’t my first episode!

What did I learn?

Howard has a lot of ideas for ‘hacking’ our lives to overcome cognitive biases and bring about a better world.

What was my favorite part?

Our discussion of hope. Howard’s bet is that we have genuinely learned things about how humans work that can translate into action and ways to improve the world. Very hard!

GA Bartick on How to Sell

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9658359

youtube link: https://youtu.be/TK0ZNnK-od0

Why did I do this show? Sales is underrated! I love thinking deeply about sales and I have learned quite a lot studying GA’s work.

What did I learn? My favorite lesson was in thinking about how sales has changed over time (or not!).

What was my favorite part? I loved GA’s story about how he named his book. What is the silver bullet for sales?

Doug Hubbard on How To Measure Anything

Episode Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/episodes/8425601

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/3S2KtvqyBKU

Why did I do this show: Doug’s work is an astounding depth of highly practicable advice on how to make decisions. Quantifying the value of information (you can do that!), overcoming cognitive bias (you can do that!), using actuarial techniques to apply to any decision making process (you can do that!), and on and on. Read Doug Hubbard!

What did I learn: Ok, here’s the real thing about Doug’s work: nobody has heard of Doug Hubbard. The implications of that are mind boggling to me. We have in our hands the way to really improve the world if we all respected and admired Doug the way I do. Yet we don’t! Figuring out why is becoming an obsession of mine.

What was my favorite part: Doug dropped a great phrase on me, analysis placebos. Love it

Bryan Caplan on the Myth of the Rational Voter

Episode Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/8862288

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/x6hT6d2qP30

Why did I do this show: I have been studying politics of all things to better understand how we make decisions under uncertainty. Anthropologists that study risk make the link between decision making under uncertainty and the political decision making process. Bryan is such a fantastic person to study because he is an incredibly thorough researcher. You get an integration of almost all thinking in a field with you read one of his books and I wanted to understand politics.

What did I learn: I learned about Bryan’s concept of irrationality and how that captures the real political decision making process that underpins all decisions about uncertainty. There is much to continue learning here!

What was my favorite part: I think my favorite part was linking the organizational political process to Bryan’s work which isn’t something he’d thought about.

Mahbod Moghadam on Controversy

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9145379

youtube link: https://youtu.be/t8xca4MTnfo

Why did I do this show? I first came across Mahbod on Erik Torenberg’s podcast several years ago. I was fascinated by the guy’s willingness to be a complete contrarian but also pretty open and self-aware. Very unusual person and one that I think is very easy to underrate. This was a bit of an experiment for me and I wasn’t sure I was going to publish it. It was on the shelf for a long time. But I dusted it off and gave a listen and found I enjoyed it so here it is!

What did I learn? I learned that Mahbod doesn’t like capitalism! Ha, what an interesting dude.

What was my favorite part? I can say my LEAST favorite part was accusations of racism and the like against all sorts of people. Ad hominem is definitely not my style, ha!

Joe Henrich on Cultural Evolution

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9310030

Youtube link: https://youtu.be/ud-1rhQHnKE

Why did I do this show? Joe is an absolute intellectual heavyweight in Sociology. This is a dream interview for me!

What did I learn? This is a bit meta but I was fascinated by Joe’s intellectual discipline. He never really strays from the research much as I tried to lure him to speculate about all kinds of ideas adjacent to his research but mostly undiscovered territory. How infrequently cultural evolution has been applied to business. More to come on this I promise you!

What was my favorite part? Easy, I got Joe to not disagree with my view that insurance is the most fundamental use of culture.

Uwe Dulleck on Credence Goods

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9145342

youtube link: https://youtu.be/c9E7Zhk9o2w

Why did I do this show? It seemed to me that Credence Goods are a really important and underrated part of economics. I had no idea they existed until a few months before recording with Uwe as I was studying the sociology of selling insurance. There’s a whole category of analysis about buying under conditions of uncertainty and Uwe wrote the definitive theoretical paper on this.

What did I learn? It’s really hard to pick apart the things I learned in the episode with the things I learned studying for it. I think I mostly learned about how to use game theory to think through sales problems.

What was my favorite part? My least favorite part was how I didn’t really nail the part on Uwe’s working integrating of patent research with academic citations. It’s really neat!