246: Deaths of despair / Effective altruism (Angus Deaton)

  Economist and Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton discusses the rise in “deaths of despair” in the U.S. – deaths from drugs, alcohol or suicide. What’s causing it, and how do we know? Also, Julia and Angus debate whether effective altruism can help the poor. (November 23, 2020)   Additional works mentioned in the episode: Deaths … Read more

245: Are Boomers to blame for Millennials’ struggles?

Rationally Speaking returns from hiatus with a look at a clash between two generations: Millennials, and their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers. Faced with stagnant wages and rising costs of education, rent, and health care, Millennials have a tougher path to economic security than Boomers did. And a growing number of millennial writers argue that … Read more

244: Seeing other perspectives, with compassion (Stephanie Lepp & Buster Benson)

November 25, 2019 This episode features a pair of interviews on a similar topic: First, Stephanie Lepp (host of the “Reckonings Podcast”) discusses what she’s learned from interviewing people who had a serious change of heart, or “reckoning,” including a former Neo-nazi and a former sex offender. What causes a reckoning? Second, Buster Benson (author of “Why Are We Yelling? The … Read more

243: The case for open borders (Bryan Caplan)

November 11, 2019 The idea of open borders — letting people move freely between countries, taking a job wherever they can find a job they want — is still a pretty fringe position, politically speaking. But economist Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case for it in his new graphic nonfiction book, “Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of … Read more

242: Why consciousness is an illusion (Keith Frankish)

October 28, 2019 Philosopher of mind Keith Frankish is one of the leading proponents of “illusionism,” the theory that argues that your subjective experience — i.e., the “what it is like” to be you — is a trick of the mind. It’s a counterintuitive theory, but Keith makes the case for it in this episode, while explaining … Read more

241: Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment (Thibault Le Texier)

October 14, 2019 The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most famous psychology experiments in history. For decades, we’ve been told that it proves how regular people easily turn sadistic when they are asked to role play as prison guards. But the story now appears to be mostly fraudulent. Thibault Le Texier is a researcher who … Read more

240: Goodhart’s Law and why metrics fail (David Manheim)

September 16, 2019 If you want to understand why things go wrong in business, government, education, psychology, AI, and more, you need to know Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure.” In this episode, decision theorist David Manheim explains the dynamics behind Goodhart’s Law and some potential solutions to … Read more

238: Stuff I’ve been wrong about (Razib Khan)

August 19, 2019 It’s rare for public intellectuals to talk about things they’ve gotten wrong, but geneticist Razib Khan is an exception. He recently published list of 28 things he’s changed his mind about in the last decade, not just in genetics, but in other fields of science, politics, society, and religion. Julia interviews Razib about some … Read more

237: Is screen time bad for you? (Andy Przybylski)

August 5, 2019 It’s common wisdom that spending a lot of time on your smartphone, or checking social media like Facebook and Twitter, takes a psychological toll. It makes us depressed, insecure, anxious, and isolated — or so people say. But is there any research to back that up? Julia discusses the evidence with professor Andy … Read more