232: Defending big business against its critics (Tyler Cowen)

April 29, 2019 Economist Tyler Cowen discusses his latest book, “Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero.” Why has anti-capitalist sentiment increased recently, and to what extent is it justified? How much are corporations to blame for wage stagnation, climbing cost of living, or the slow response to climate change? Tyler and Julia also explore their various … Read more

229: Erisology, the study of disagreement (John Nerst)

March 18, 2019 This episode features John Nerst, data scientist and blogger at everythingstudies.com, discussing a potential new field called “erisology,” the study of disagreement. John and Julia discuss why Twitter makes disagreement so hard; whether there’s anything to learn from postmodernism; John’s “signal and corrective” model that explains why disagreement persists even when people agree on … Read more

228: Is Elsevier helping or hurting scientific progress? (William Gunn and Alex Holcombe)

March 4, 2019 In the wake of the University of California’s decision to end their contract with Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher, a lot of people have been talking about the effect that publishers like Elsevier have on the progress of science. William Gunn, director of scholarly communications for Elsevier, and Alex Holcombe, cognitive scientist and open … Read more

227: Dissent and free speech (Sarah Haider)

February 18, 2019 This episode features Sarah Haider, the president of Ex-Muslims of North America. Julia and Sarah discuss why it’s important to talk about the challenges of leaving Islam, and why that makes people uncomfortable or angry. They also explore whether being intellectually honest helps or hurts your effectiveness as an activist; Sarah’s concerns with the … Read more

225: The case for charter schools (Neerav Kingsland)

January 20, 2019 This episode features Neerav Kingsland, who helped rebuild New Orleans’ public school system after Hurricane Katrina, converting it into the country’s first nearly-100% charter school system. Neerav and Julia discuss: why Neerav believes the evidence shows charter schools work better than regular public schools, his responses to the main arguments against charters, and … Read more

224: The long-term effects of lead on crime (Rick Nevin)

January 6, 2019 This episode features Rick Nevin, an economist who is known for his research suggesting that lead is one of the main causes of crime. Rick and Julia discuss: how do we know the correlation between lead and crime is a sign of a causal relationship? Has the lead-crime theory made any successful predictions? … Read more

223: The Mohists, ancient China’s philosopher warriors (Chris Fraser)

December 16, 2018 Not enough people know about the Mohists, a strikingly modern group of Chinese philosophers active in 479–221 BCE. This episode features Chris Fraser, expert on Mohism and professor of philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. Chris and Julia discuss how the Mohists put their philosophy into practice and got Chinese leaders to … Read more