256: How to be a data detective (Tim Harford)

When you see a statistic reported in the news, like “10% of University of California Berkeley students were homeless this year,” how do you evaluate it? You shouldn’t blindly accept every statistic you read. But neither should you reject everything that sounds surprising. Tim Harford, economist and author of The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules … Read more

255: Are Uber and Lyft drivers being exploited?

How much do Uber and Lyft drivers really earn, after expenses? Are they getting a raw deal by being classified as ‘independent contractors’ instead of employees? I explore the debate over these questions with three guests: Louis Hyman (Cornell), Veena Dubal (UC Hastings College of the Law), and Harry Campbell (The Rideshare Guy). (April 9, … Read more

253: Intellectual honesty, cryptocurrency, & more (Vitalik Buterin)

Julia and guest Vitalik Buterin (creator of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum) explore a wide range of topics, including: Vitalik’s intellectually honest approach to leadership, why prediction markets appear to be biased in favor of Trump, whether it was rational to invest in Bitcoin ten years ago, Vitalik’s defense of life extension research against its … Read more

252: Understanding moral disagreements (Jonathan Haidt)

Julia and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind) discuss his moral foundations theory and argue about whether liberals should “expand their moral horizons” by learning to think like conservatives. Julia solicits Jon’s help in understanding her disagreement with philosopher Michael Sandel, in episode 247, over the morality of consensual cannibalism. (February 17, 2020) Additional works mentioned … Read more

251: The case for one billion Americans, & more (Matt Yglesias)

Matt Yglesias talks about One Billion Americans, his book arguing that it’s in the United States’ national interest to dramatically boost its population, by expanding immigration and having more babies. Matt and Julia also discuss arguments for and against the “YIMBY” movement, which pushes for building more housing; what they’ve both learned from reflecting on … Read more

250: What’s wrong with tech companies banning people? (Julian Sanchez)

Companies like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly willing to ban users — and even if you agree with their decisions, is it worrying that a few companies have so much power? Julia discusses with Julian Sanchez, expert on tech and civil liberties. (January 19, 2020) Additional works mentioned in the episode: Julian Sanchez’ personal website Julian’s Cato … Read more

249: The case for racial colorblindness (Coleman Hughes)

Coleman Hughes explains why he favors a “colorblind” ideal and why the “race-conscious” camp disagrees with him. Coleman and Julia also discuss whether reparations are just, and what counts as racism. (January 5, 2020) Additional works mentioned in the episode: Coleman Hughes’ podcast and website Coleman on Twitter “Deepities and the Politics of Pseudo-Profundity” (October 2018) “The … Read more

248: Are Democrats being irrational? (David Shor)

Data scientist David Shor discusses some of the bad choices made by Democratic political campaigns. What’s the cause of the errors? Is it irrationality, coordination problems, or something else? (December 22, 2020) Additional works mentioned in the episode: David Shor on Twitter David’s July 2020 interview with New York Magazine David’s November 2020 interview with Vox Transcript (PDF)