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Conversations with Tyler

Conversations with Tyler

Society & Culture, Education

4.82.2K Ratings

Overview

Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

223 Episodes

Peter Thiel on Political Theology

In this conversation recorded live in Miami, Tyler and Peter Thiel dive deep into the complexities of political theology, including why it’s a concept we still need today, why Peter’s against Calvinism (and rationalism), whether the Old Testament should lead us to be woke, why Carl Schmitt is enjoying a resurgence, whether we’re entering a new age of millenarian thought, the one existential risk Peter thinks we’re overlooking, why everyone just muddling through leads to disaster, the role of the katechon, the political vision in Shakespeare, how AI will affect the influence of wordcels, Straussian messages in the Bible, what worries Peter about Miami, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 21st, 2024. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Peter on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 17 April 2024

Jonathan Haidt on Adjusting to Smartphones and Social Media

In The Anxious Generation, Jonathan Haidt explores the simultaneous rise in teen mental illness across various countries, attributing it to a seismic shift from a "play-based childhood" to a "phone-based childhood" around the early 2010s. He argues that the negative effects of this "great rewiring of childhood" will continue to worsen without the adoption of several norms and a more hands-on approach to regulating social media platforms. But might technological advances and good old human resilience allow kids to adapt more easily than he thinks? Jonathan joined Tyler to discuss this question and more, including whether left-wingers or right-wingers make for better parents, the wisest person Jonathan has interacted with, psychological traits as a source of identitarianism, whether AI will solve the screen time problem, why school closures didn't seem to affect the well-being of young people, whether the mood shift since 2012 is not just about social media use, the benefits of the broader internet vs. social media, the four norms to solve the biggest collective action problems with smartphone use, the feasibility of age-gating social media, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 14th, 2024. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Jonathan on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credits: Jayne Riew

Transcribed - Published: 3 April 2024

Fareed Zakaria on the Age of Revolutions, the Power of Ideas, and the Rewards of Intellectual Curiosity

Those who know Fareed Zakaria through his weekly column or CNN show may be surprised to learn he considers books the important way he can put new ideas in the world. But Fareed's original aspiration was to be an academic, and it was a chance lunch with Walter Isaacson that convinced him to apply for a job as editor of Foreign Affairs instead of accepting an assistant professorship at Harvard. His latest book, Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash from 1600 to the Present is a testament to his enduring passion for ideas and his belief in the importance of classical liberalism in an age of increasing populism and authoritarianism. Tyler sat down with Fareed to discuss what he learned from Khushwant Singh as a boy, what made his father lean towards socialism, why the Bengali intelligentsia is so left-wing, what's stuck with him from his time at an Anglican school, what's so special about visiting Amritsar, why he misses a more syncretic India, how his time at the Yale Political Union dissuaded him from politics, what he learned from Walter Isaacson and Sam Huntington, what put him off academia, how well some of his earlier writing as held up, why he's become focused on classical liberal values, whether he had reservations about becoming a TV journalist, how he's maintained a rich personal life, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded March 8th, 2024. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Fareed on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credit: Jeremy P. Freeman, CNN

Transcribed - Published: 27 March 2024

Marilynne Robinson on Biblical Interpretation, Calvinist Thought, and Religion in America

Marilynne Robinson is one of America's best and best-known novelists and essayists, whose award-winning works like Housekeeping and Gilead explore themes of faith, grace, and the intricacies of human nature. Beyond her writing, Robinson's 25-year tenure at the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop allowed her to shape and inspire the new generations of writers. Her latest book, Reading Genesis, displays her scholarly prowess, analyzing the biblical text not only through the lens of religious doctrine but also appreciating it as a literary masterpiece. She joined Tyler to discuss betrayal and brotherhood in the Hebrew Bible, the relatable qualities of major biblical figures, how to contend with the Bible's seeming contradictions, the true purpose of Levitical laws, whether we've transcended the need for ritual sacrifice, the role of the Antichrist, the level of biblical knowledge among students, her preferred Bible translation, whether The Winter's Tale makes sense, the evolution of Calvin's reputation and influence, why academics are overwhelmingly secular, the success of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, why she wrote a book on nuclear pollution, what she'll do next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 8th, 2024. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credit: Alec Soth, Magnum Photos

Transcribed - Published: 20 March 2024

Marc Andreessen on AI and Dynamism

In this interview, recorded at a16z’s 2024 American Dynamism Summit, Tyler and Marc Andreessen engage in a rapid-fire dialogue about the future of AI, including the biggest change we’ll see in the next five years, who will gain and lose status with the rise of LLMs, why open-source is important for national security, the best and worst parts of Biden’s AI directive, the most underrated energy source, what the US can do to speed up AI deployment, what gives Marc optimism about Gen Z, which thinker helps him make sense of American capitalism, and more. To hear more conversations from a16z’s American Dynamism Summit, please go to www.a16z.com/adsummit. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded January 30th, 2024. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Marc on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 13 March 2024

Marc Rowan on Financial Market Evolution and University Governance

Marc Rowan, co-founder and CEO of Apollo Global Management, joined Tyler to discuss why rising interest rates won't hurt Apollo's profitability, why liabilities have traditionally been the weak spot in insurance, why the concept of liquidity needs a rethink, the meaninglessness of the term "private credit", what role crypto will play in American finance, why Marc bought a brutalist apartment, which country has beautiful new neighborhoods, what motivated Apollo's office redesign, what he looks for in young hires, the different kind of decision-making required in debt versus private equity, the biggest obstacle to doing business in India, how university governance can be improved, what he's learned from running restaurants, the next thing he'll learn, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 5th, 2024. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 6 March 2024

Masaaki Suzuki on Interpreting Bach

A conductor, harpsichordist, and organist, Masaaki Suzuki stands as a towering figure in Baroque music, renowned for his comprehensive and top-tier recordings of Bach's works, including all of Bach's sacred and secular cantatas. Suzuki's unparalleled dedication extends beyond Bach, with significant contributions to the works of Mozart, Handel, and other 18th-century composers. He is the founder of the Bach Collegium Japan, an artist in residence at Yale, and conducts orchestras and choruses around the world. Tyler sat down with Suzuki to discuss the innovation and novelty in Bach's St. John's Passion, whether Suzuki's Calvinist background influences his musical interpretation, his initial encounter with Bach through Karl Richter, whether older recordings of Bach have held up, why he trained in the Netherlands, what he looks for in young musicians, how Japanese players appreciate Bach differently, whether Christianity could have ever succeeded in Japan, why Bach's larger vocal works were neglected for so long, how often Bach heard his masterworks performed, why Suzuki's favorite organ is in Groningen, what he thinks of Glenn Gould’s interpretations of Bach, what contemporary music he enjoys, what he'll do next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded October 18th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Masaaki on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 21 February 2024

Ami Vitale on Photojournalism and Wildlife Conservation

Ami Vitale is a renowned National Geographic photographer and documentarian with a deep commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental education. Her work, spanning over a hundred countries, includes spending a decade as a conflict photographer in places like Kosovo, Gaza, and Kashmir. She joined Tyler to discuss why we should stay scary to pandas, whether we should bring back extinct species, the success of Kenyan wildlife management, the mental cost of a decade photographing war, what she thinks of the transition from film to digital, the ethical issues raised by Afghan Girl, the future of National Geographic, the heuristic guiding of where she'll travel next, what she looks for in a young photographer, her next project, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded November 1st, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 7 February 2024

Rebecca F. Kuang on National Literatures, Book Publishing, and History in Fiction

Rebecca F. Kuang just might change the way you think about fantasy and science fiction. Known for her best-selling books Babel and The Poppy War trilogy, Kuang combines a unique blend of historical richness and imaginative storytelling. At just 27, she’s already published five novels, and her compulsion to write has not abated even as she's pursued advanced degrees at Oxford, Cambridge, and now Yale. Her latest book, Yellowface, was one of Tyler’s favorites in 2023. She sat down with Tyler to discuss Chinese science-fiction, which work of fantasy she hopes will still be read in fifty years, which novels use footnotes well, how she'd change book publishing, what she enjoys about book tours, what to make of which Chinese fiction is read in the West, the differences between the three volumes of The Three Body Problem, what surprised her on her recent Taiwan trip, why novels are rarely co-authored, how debate influences her writing, how she'll balance writing fiction with her academic pursuits, where she'll travel next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Sign up for our Live Event in Miami with Peter Thiel. Recorded September 15th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Rebecca on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 24 January 2024

Patrick McKenzie on Navigating Complex Systems

Few can measure the impact of a blog post they wrote, in the millions of dollars a year, but Patrick McKenzie has the receipts. His 2012 post on salary negotiation is read hundreds of thousands of times each year, and he has a Gmail folder brimming with success stories. This achievement is just of his many contributions, which include starting several businesses, advising Stripe and other software companies, and spearheading the launch of VaccinateCA. Lately he's been writing Bits about Money, a biweekly newsletter on the intersection of tech and finance. Tyler sat down with Patrick to discuss signature fields on the back of credit cards, whether bank tellers or waitstaff are more trustworthy, the gremlins behind spurious credit card declines, how debt collection and maple syrup heists should change your model of the world, Twitter’s continued success as the message bus for government and civil society, crypto vs traditional money transfers, the intended desolation of bank parking lots, why he moved to Japan and how it affected his ambition, why Tether hasn't collapsed, the internet as a Great Work, how he's experiencing reverse culture shock after returning to the US, what he'll learn about next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded October 26th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Patrick on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 10 January 2024

Conversations with Tyler 2023 Retrospective

On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes look back on the past year in the show and more, including the most popular and underrated episodes, the origins of the show as an occasional event series, the most difficult guests to prep for, the story behind EconGOAT.AI, Tyler's favorite podcast appearance of the year, and his evolving LLM-powered production function. They also answer listener questions and conclude with an assessment of Tyler's top pop culture recommendations from 2013 across movies, music, and books. Donate to Conversations with Tyler and help us keep the conversations going. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded December 6th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Jeff on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 27 December 2023

Fuchsia Dunlop on the Story of Chinese Food

In her third appearance on the show, Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop joins Tyler and a group of special guests to celebrate the release of Invitation to a Banquet, her new book exploring the history, philosophy, and techniques of Chinese culinary culture. As with her previous appearance, this conversation was held over a banquet meal at Mama Chang and was hosted by Lydia Chang. As they dined, the group discussed why the diversity in Chinese cuisine is still only just being appreciated in the West, how far back our understanding of it goes, how it’s represented in the Caribbean and Ireland, whether technique trumps quality of ingredients, why certain cuisines can spread internationally with higher fidelity, what we can learn from the different styles in Indian and Chinese cooking, why several dishes on the table featured Amish ingredients, the most likely mistake people will make when making a stir fry, what Lydia has learned managing an empire of Chinese restaurants, Fuchsia’s trick for getting unstuck while writing, and more. Joining Tyler, Fuchsia, and Lydia around the table were Dan Wang, Rasheed Griffith, Fergus McCullough, and Sam Enright. Special thanks to Chef Peter Chang, Lydia, and all the staff at Mama Chang for the wonderful meal. Donate to Conversations with Tyler and help us keep the conversations going. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded November 9th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Fuchsia on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credit: Anna Bergkvist

Transcribed - Published: 13 December 2023

John Gray on Pessimism, Liberalism, and Theism

John Gray is a philosopher and writer renowned for his critical examination of liberalism, atheism, and the human condition. His unique perspective is shaped over a decades-long career, during which he has authored influential books on topics ranging from political theory to what we can learn from cats about on how to live a good life. His latest book, The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism, delivers a provocative examination of the 2020s' political landscape, challenges liberal triumphalism with a realistic critique of ongoing global crises and the persistent allure of human delusions. Tyler and John sat down to discuss his latest book, including who he thinks will carry on his work, what young people should learn if liberalism is dead, whether modern physics allows for true atheism, what in Eastern Orthodoxy attracts him, the benefits of pessimism, what philanthropic cause he’d invest a billion dollars in, under what circumstances he’d sacrifice his life, what he makes of UFOs, the current renaissance in film and books, whether Monty Python is still funny, how Herman Melville influenced him, who first spotted his talent, his most unusual work habit, what he’ll do next, and more. Donate to Conversations with Tyler and help us keep the conversations going. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded October 24th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 29 November 2023

Jennifer Burns on Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand

Jennifer Burns is a professor of history at Stanford who works at the intersection of intellectual, political, and cultural history. She’s written two biographies Tyler highly recommends: her 2009 book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right and her latest, Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative, provides a nuanced look into the influential economist and public intellectual. Tyler and Jennifer start by discussing how her new portrait of Friedman caused her to reassess him, his lasting impact in statistics, whether he was too dogmatic, his shift from academic to public intellectual, the problem with Two Lucky People, what Friedman’s courtship of Rose Friedman was like, how Milton’s family influenced him, why Friedman opposed Hayek’s courtesy appointment at the University of Chicago, Friedman’s attitudes toward friendship, his relationship to fiction and the arts, and the prospects for his intellectual legacy. Next, they discuss Jennifer’s previous work on Ayn Rand, including whether Rand was a good screenwriter, which is the best of her novels, what to make of the sex scenes in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, how Rand and Mises got along, and why there’s so few successful businesswomen depicted in American fiction. They also delve into why fiction seems so much more important for the American left than it is for the right, what’s driving the decline of the American conservative intellectual condition, what she will do next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded August 30th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Jennifer on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 15 November 2023

Brian Koppelman on TV, Movies, and Appreciating Art

Brian Koppelman is a writer, director, and producer known for his work on films like Rounders and Solitary Man, the hit TV show Billions, and his podcast The Moment, which explores pivotal moments in creative careers. Tyler and Brian sat down to discuss why TV wasn’t good for so long, whether he wants viewers to binge his shows, how he’d redesign movie theaters, why some smart people appreciate film and others don’t, which Spielberg movie and Murakami book is under appreciated, a surprising fact about poker, whether Jalen Brunson is overrated or underrated, Manhattan food tips, who he’d want to go on a three-day retreat with, whether movies are too long, how happy people are in show business, his unmade dream projects, the next thing he’ll learn about, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded August 22nd, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Brian on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 8 November 2023

Githae Githinji on Life in Kenya

As a follow-up to the episode featuring Stephen Jennings, we’re releasing two bonus conversations showing the daily life, culture, and politics of Nairobi and Kenya at large. This second installment features Githae Githinji, a Kikuyu elder and businessman working in Tatu City, a massive mixed-used development spearheaded by Jennings. Born in 1958 and raised in a rural village, he relocated to seek opportunities in the Nairobi area where he built up a successful transportation company over decades. As a respected chairman of the local Kikuyu councils, Githae resolves disputes through mediation and seeks to pass on traditions to the youth. In his conversation with Tyler, Githae discusses his work as a businessman in the transport industry and what he looks for when hiring drivers, the reasons he moved from his rural hometown to the city and his perspectives on urban vs rural living, Kikuyu cultural practices, his role as a community elder resolving disputes through both discussion and social pressure, the challenges Kenya faces, his call for more foreign investment to create local jobs, how generational attitudes differ, the role of religion and Githae's Catholic faith, perspectives on Chinese involvement in Kenya and openness to foreigners, thoughts on the devolution of power to Kenyan counties, his favorite wildlife, why he's optimistic about Kenya's future despite current difficulties, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded June 12th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 2 November 2023

Harriet Karimi Muriithi on Life in Kenya

As a follow-up to the episode featuring Stephen Jennings, we’re releasing two bonus conversations showing the daily life, culture, and politics of Nairobi and Kenya at large. This first installment features Harriet Muriithi. Harriet is a 22-year-old hospitality professional living and working in Tatu City, a massive mixed-used development spearheaded by Jennings. Harriet grew up in the picturesque foothills of Mount Kenya before moving to the capital city as a child to pursue better schooling. She has witnessed Nairobi's remarkable growth firsthand over the last decade. An ambitious go-getter, Harriet studied supply chain management and wishes to open her own high-end restaurant. In her conversation with Tyler, Harriet opens up about her TikTok hobby, love of fantasy novels, thoughts on improving Kenya's education system, and how she leverages AI tools like ChatGPT in her daily life, the Chinese influence across Africa, the challenges women face in village life versus Nairobi, what foods to sample as a visitor to Kenya, her favorite musicians from Beyoncé to Nigerian Afrobeats stars, why she believes technology can help address racism, her Catholic faith and church attendance, how COVID-19 affected her education and Kenya’s recovery, the superstitions that persist in rural areas, the career paths available to Kenya's youth today, why Nollywood movies captivate her, the diversity of languages and tribes across the country, whether Kenya’s neighbors impact prospects for peace, what she thinks of the decline in the size of families, why she enjoys podcasts about random acts of kindness, what infrastructure and lifestyle changes are reshaping Nairobi, if the British colonial legacy still influences politics today, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded June 12th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 2 November 2023

Stephen Jennings on Building New Cities

Stephen and Tyler first met over thirty years ago while working on economic reforms in New Zealand. With a distinguished career that transitioned from the New Zealand Treasury to significant ventures in emerging economies, Stephen now focuses on developing new urban landscapes across Africa as the founder and CEO of Rendeavour. Tyler sat down with Stephen in Tatu City, one of his multi-use developments just north of Nairobi, where they discussed why he’s optimistic about Kenya in particular, why so many African cities appear to have low agglomeration externalities, how Tatu City regulates cars and designs for transportation, how his experience as reformer and privatizer informed the way utilities are provided, what will set the city apart aesthetically, why talent is the biggest constraint he faces, how Nairobi should fix its traffic problems, what variable best tracks Kenyan unity, what the country should do to boost agricultural productivity, the economic prospects for New Zealand, how playing rugby influenced his approach to the world, how living in Kenya has changed him, what he will learn next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded June 12th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 1 November 2023

Jacob Mikanowski on Eastern Europe

Jacob Mikanowski is the author of one of Tyler’s favorite books this year called Goodbye, Eastern Europe: An Intimate History of a Divided Land. Tyler and Jacob sat down to discuss all things Eastern Europe, including the differences between Eastern and Western European humor, whether Poles are smiling more nowadays, why the best Polish folk art is from the south, the equilibrium for Kaliningrad and the Suwałki Gap, how Romania and Bulgaria will handle depopulation, whether Moldova has an independent future, the best city to party in, why there are so few Christian-Muslim issues in Albania, a nuanced take on Orbán and Hungarian politics, why food in Poland is so good now, why Stanisław Lem hasn’t gotten more attention in the West, how Eastern Europe has changed his view of humanity, his ideal two week itinerary in the region, what he’ll do next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded September 5th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Jacob on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 18 October 2023

Re-release: Claudia Goldin on the Economics of Inequality

Harvard professor Claudia Goldin has made a name for herself tackling difficult questions. What was the full economic cost of the American Civil War? Does education increase or lessen income inequality? What causes the gender pay gap—and how do you even measure it? Her approach, which often involves the unearthing of new historical data, has yielded lasting insights in several distinct areas of economics. Claudia joined Tyler to discuss the rise of female billionaires in China, why the US gender earnings gap expanded in recent years, what’s behind falling marriage rates for those without a college degree, why the wage gap flips for Black women versus Black men, theoretical approaches for modeling intersectionality, gender ratios in economics, why she’s skeptical about happiness research, how the New York Times wedding announcement page has evolved, the problems with for-profit education, the value of an Ivy League degree, whether a Coasian solution existed to prevent the Civil War, which Americans were most likely to be anti-immigrant in the 1920s, her forthcoming work on Lanham schools, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded September 1st, 2021 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Claudia on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox. Thumbnail photo credit: BBVA Foundation

Transcribed - Published: 9 October 2023

Ada Palmer on Viking Metaphysics, Contingent Moments, and Censorship

Ada Palmer is a Renaissance historian at the University of Chicago who studies radical free thought and censorship, composes music, consults on anime and manga, and is the author of the acclaimed Terra Ignota sci-fi series, among many other things. Tyler sat down with Ada to discuss why living in the Renaissance was worse than living during the Middle Ages, how art protected Florence, why she’s reluctant to travel back in time, which method of doing history is currently the most underrated, whose biography she’ll write, how we know what old Norse music was like, why women scholars helped us understand Viking metaphysics, why Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist is an interesting work, what people misunderstand about the inquisition(s), why science fiction doesn’t have higher social and literary status, which hive she would belong to in Terra Ignota, what the new novel she’s writing is about, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded June 28th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Ada on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credit: Jason Smith

Transcribed - Published: 4 October 2023

Lazarus Lake on Endurance, Uncertainty, and Reaching One’s Potential

Lazarus Lake is a renowned ultramarathon runner and designer. His most famous creation (along with his friend Raw Dog) is the Barkley Marathons, an absurdly difficult 100-mile race through the Tennessee wilderness that only 17 people have ever finished in its nearly 30-year existence. Tyler and Laz discuss what running 100 miles tells you about yourself that running 26 miles does not, why so many STEM professionals do ultramarathons, which skill holds people back the most, why his entrance fee is no more or less than $1.60, the importance of the Barkley’s opaque application process, how much each race costs to mount, whether he sees a decline in stoicism and inner strength in America, what accounting taught him about running, which books influenced him the most, who's going to win the NBA title next year, how he’s coping with increasing fame, the competition he’s most focused on now, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded June 29th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 20 September 2023

Jerusalem Demsas on The Dispossessed, Gulliver's Travels, and Of Boys and Men

In this special episode, Tyler sat down with Jerusalem Demsas, staff writer at The Atlantic, to discuss three books: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, and Of Boys and Men by Richard V. Reeves. Spanning centuries and genres and yet provoking similar questions, these books prompted Tyler and Jerusalem to wrestle with enduring questions about human nature, gender dynamics, the purpose of travel, and moral progress, including debating whether Le Guin prefers the anarchist utopia she depicts, dissecting Swift's stance on science and slavery, questioning if travel makes us happier or helps us understand ourselves, comparing Gulliver and Shevek's alienation and restlessness, considering Swift’s views on the difficulty of moral progress, reflecting on how feminism links to moral progress and gender equality, contemplating whether imaginative fiction or policy analysis is more likely to spur social change, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded May 22nd, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Jerusalem on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 6 September 2023

Vishy Anand on Staying in the Game

A five-time World Chess Champion, Vishy became India's first grandmaster at age 18, spurring a chess revolution in the country. Now 53, he is still a world top ten player and has been India's number one ranked player for 37 years. As newer talents emerge and old ones retire, Anand's continued excellence showcases an endurance seldom seen. Tyler and Vishy sat down in Chennai to discuss his breakthrough 1991 tournament win in Reggio Emilia, his technique for defeating Kasparov in rapid play, how he approached playing the volatile but brilliant Vassily Ivanchuk at his peak, a detailed breakdown of his brilliant 2013 game against Levon Aronian, dealing with distraction during a match, how he got out of a multi-year slump, Monty Python vs. Fawlty Towers, the most underrated Queen song, how far to take chess opening preparation, which style of chess will dominate in the next ten years, how AlphaZero changes what we know about the game, the key to staying a top ten player at age 53, why he thinks he's a worse loser than Kasparov, qualities he looks for in talented young Indian chess players, picks for the best places to eat in Chennai, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded August 7th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Vishy on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Special thanks to Nabeel Qureshi for his help with the video and transcript.

Transcribed - Published: 30 August 2023

Celebrating Marginal Revolution's 20th Anniversary

When Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen launched Marginal Revolution in August of 2003, they saw attracting a few thousand academic-minded readers as a runaway success. To their astonishment, the blog soon eclipsed that goal, and within a decade had become one of the most widely read economics blogs in the world. Just as remarkably, the blog maintained its relevance in its second decade, bringing in a new generation of readers without a dip in the pace or quality of the posts. As Alex and Tyler jest, only the onset of senility could possibly rein them in. To mark MR's entrance into its third decade, long-time readers Ben Casnocha, Vitalik Buterin, and Jeff Holmes joined Alex and Tyler to talk about MR's legacy, including the golden age of blogging in the mid-2000s, the decline of independent blogs and the rise of social media, why Tyler usually has a post at 1 AM, the consistent design of the site, the peak of the blogosphere in the Great Recession, the robust community—and even marriage—forged through MR, the site's most underrated feature, Alex and Tyler's favorite commenters, how MR catalyzed separate real-world pandemic responses by each of them, the cessation of book clubs, Alex and Tyler's distinct writing style, iconic MR memes, what's happened to Tyrone, whether the site's popularity has tempted them into self-censoring, why it was Alex and Tyler who paired up amongst the other Mason econ bloggers, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded August 5th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Alex on X Follow Ben on X Follow Vitalik on X Follow Jeff on X Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo credit: Lathan Goumas/Office of Communications and Marketing at GMU

Transcribed - Published: 23 August 2023

Paul Graham on Ambition, Art, and Evaluating Talent

Tyler and Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham sat down at his home in the English countryside to discuss what areas of talent judgment his co-founder and wife Jessica Livingston is better at, whether young founders have gotten rarer, whether he still takes a dim view of solo founders, how to 2x ambition in the developed world, on the minute past which a Y Combinator interviewer is unlikely to change their mind, what YC learned after rejecting companies, how he got over his fear of flying, Florentine history, why almost all good artists are underrated, what's gone wrong in art, why new homes and neighborhoods are ugly, why he wants to visit the Dark Ages, why he's optimistic about Britain and San Fransisco, the challenges of regulating AI, whether we're underinvesting in high-cost interruption activities, walking, soundproofing, fame, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded July 15th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Paul on Twitter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo credit: Dave Thomas

Transcribed - Published: 9 August 2023

Noam Dworman on Stand-Up Comedy and Staying Open-Minded

Tyler sat down at Comedy Cellar with owner Noam Dworman to talk about the ever-changing stand-up comedy scene, including the perfect room temperature for stand-up, whether comedy can still shock us, the effect on YouTube and TikTok, the transformation of jokes into bits, the importance of tight seating, why he doesn’t charge higher prices for his shows, the differences between the LA and NYC scenes, whether good looks are an obstacle to success, the oldest comic act he still finds funny, how comedians have changed since he started running the Comedy Cellar in 2003, and what government regulations drive him crazy. They also talk about how 9/11 got Noam into trouble, his early career in music, the most underrated guitarist, why live music is dead in NYC, and what his plans are for expansion. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded March 15th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 26 July 2023

David Bentley Hart on Reason, Faith, and Diversity in Religious Thought

David Bentley Hart is an American writer, philosopher, religious scholar, critic, and theologian who has authored over 1,000 essays and 19 books, including a very well-known translation of the New Testament and several volumes of fiction. In this conversation, Tyler and David discuss ways in which Orthodox Christianity is not so millenarian, how theological patience shapes the polities of Orthodox Christian nations, how Heidegger deepened his understanding of Christian Orthodoxy, who played left field for the Baltimore Orioles in 1970, the simplest way to explain how Orthodoxy diverges from Catholicism, the future of the American Orthodox Church, what he thinks of the Book of Mormon, whether theological arguments are ultimately based on reason or faith, what he makes of reincarnation and near-death experiences, gnosticism in movies and TV, why he dislikes Sarah Ruden’s translation of the New Testament, the most difficult word to translate, a tally of the 15+ languages he knows, what he’ll work on next, and more. Recorded March 23rd, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 12 July 2023

Reid Hoffman on the Possibilities of AI

In his second appearance, Reid Hoffman joined Tyler to talk everything AI: the optimal liability regime for LLMs, whether there’ll be autonomous money-making bots, which agency should regulate AI, how AI will affect the media ecosystem and the communication of ideas, what percentage of the American population will eschew it, how gaming will evolve, whether AI’s future will be open-source or proprietary, the binding constraint preventing the next big step in AI, which philosopher has risen in importance thanks to AI, what he’d ask a dolphin, what LLMs have taught him about friendship, how higher education will change, and more. They also discuss Sam Altman’s overlooked skill, the biggest cultural problem in America, the most underrated tech scene, and what he’ll do next. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Reid's podcast Possible is back this summer with a three-part miniseries called “AI and The Personal,” which launched on June 21st. Featured guests use AI, hardware, software and their own creativity to better people's daily lives. Subscribe to get the series. Recorded May 9th, 2023. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Reid on Twitter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo credit: David Yellen

Transcribed - Published: 28 June 2023

Noam Chomsky on Language, Left Libertarianism, and Progress

Noam Chomsky joins Tyler to discuss why Noam and Wilhelm von Humboldt have similar views on language and liberty, good and bad evolutionary approaches to language, what he thinks Stephen Wolfram gets wrong about LLMs, whether he’s optimistic about the future, what he thinks of Thomas Schelling, the legacy of the 1960s-era left libertarians, the development trajectories of Nicaragua and Cuba, why he still answers every email, what he’s been most wrong about, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 27th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Join our Discord Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo credit: Duncan Rawlinson - Duncan.co

Transcribed - Published: 14 June 2023

Peter Singer on Utilitarianism, Influence, and Controversial Ideas

Peter Singer is one of the world’s most influential living philosophers, whose ideas have motivated millions of people to change how they eat, how they give, and how they interact with each other and the natural world. Peter joined Tyler to discuss whether utilitarianism is only tractable at the margin, how Peter thinks about the meat-eater problem, why he might side with aliens over humans, at what margins he would police nature, the utilitarian approach to secularism and abortion, what he’s learned producing the Journal of Controversial Ideas, what he’d change about the current Effective Altruism movement, where Derek Parfit went wrong, to what extent we should respect the wishes of the dead, why professional philosophy is so boring, his advice on how to enjoy our lives, what he’ll be doing after retiring from teaching, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded May 25th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Peter on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo credit: Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek

Transcribed - Published: 7 June 2023

Seth Godin on Marketing, Meaning, and the Bibs We Wear

On good days, Seth Godin thinks about all the progress we’re making on climate change. On bad days, he thinks about the problem of racing bibs. Though pieces of paper safety-pinned to runners’ chests seem obviously outdated, the bibs persist, highlighting how difficult it can be to change a culture for the better. And yet Seth also persists to improve the culture around marketing and work, giving hundreds of talks, writing daily blog posts, and publishing 21 best-sellers. His latest, The Song of Significance, explains why workplace culture has gotten so bad and what leaders can do to make it better. Seth joined Tyler to discuss why direct marketing works at all, the marketing success of Trader Joe’s vs Whole Foods, why you can’t reverse engineer Taylor Swift’s success, how Seth would fix baseball, the brilliant marketing in ChatGPT’s design, the most underrated American visual artist, the problem with online education, approaching public talks as a team process, what makes him a good cook, his updated advice for aspiring young authors, how growing up in Buffalo shaped him, what he’ll work on next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded May 23rd, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Seth on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo credit: Darius Bashar and Archangel

Transcribed - Published: 31 May 2023

Simon Johnson on Banking, Technology, and Prosperity

What’s more intense than leading the IMF during a financial crisis? For Simon Johnson, it was co-authoring a book with fellow economist (and past guest) Daron Acemoglu. Written in six months, their book Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity, argues that widespread prosperity is not the natural consequence of technological progress, but instead only happens when there is a conscious effort to bend the direction and gains from technological advances away from the elite. Tyler and Simon discuss the ideas in the book and on Simon’s earlier work on finance and banking, including at what size a US bank is small enough to fail, the future of deposit insurance, when we’ll see a central bank digital currency, his top proposal for reforming the IMF, how quickly the Industrial Revolution led to widespread prosperity, whether AI will boost wages, how he changed his mind on the Middle Ages, the key difference in outlook between him and Daron, how he thinks institutions affect growth, how to fix northern England's economic climate, whether the UK should join NAFTA, improving science policy, the Simon Johnson production function, whether MBAs are overrated, the importance of communication, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded March 21st, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Simon on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 17 May 2023

Kevin Kelly on Advice, Travel, and Tech

As the founding executive editor of Wired magazine and the author of several acclaimed books on technology and culture, Kevin Kelly has long been known for his visionary ideas and insights. But his latest work, Excellent Advice for Living takes a different approach, drawing on his own experience and wisdom to offer practical tips and advice for navigating life's challenges. Naturally then, Kevin and Tyler start this conversation on advice: what kinds of advice Kevin was afraid to give, his worst advice, how to get better at following advice, and whether people who ask for advice really want it in the first place. Then they move on to the best places to see traditional cultures in Asia, the one thing in Kevin’s travel kit he can’t be without, his favorite part of India, why he’s so excited about brain-computer interfaces, how AI will change religion, what the Amish can teach us about tech adoption, the most underrated documentary, his initial entry point into tech, why he’s impressed by the way Jeff Bezos handles power, the last thing he's changed his mind about, how growing up in Westfield, New Jersey affected him, his next project called the Hundred Year Desirable Future, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded April 27th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Kevin on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 3 May 2023

Anna Keay on Historic Architecture, Monarchy, and 17th Century Britain

Anna Keay is a historian who specializes in the cultural heritage of Great Britain. As the director of the Landmark Trust, she has overseen the restoration of numerous historical buildings and monuments, while also serving as a prolific author and commentator on the country's architectural and artistic traditions. Her book, The Restless Republic: Britain Without a Crown, was one of Tyler’s top picks for 2022. Tyler sat down with Anna to discuss the most plausible scenario where England could’ve remained a republic in the 17th century, what Robert Boyle learned from Sir William Petty, why some monarchs build palaces and others don’t, how renting from the Landmark Trust compares to Airbnb, how her job changes her views on wealth taxes, why neighborhood architecture has declined, how she’d handle the UK’s housing shortage, why giving back the Koh-i-Noor would cause more problems than it solves, why British houses have so little storage, the hardest part about living in an 800-year-old house, her favorite John Fowles book, why we should do more to preserve the Scottish Enlightenment, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 23rd, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Anna on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

Transcribed - Published: 19 April 2023

Jessica Wade on Chiral Materials, Open Knowledge, and Representation in STEM

Jessica Wade is a physicist at Imperial College London who, while spending her day working on special carbon-based materials that can be used as semiconductors, has spent her nights writing nearly 2,000 Wikipedia entries about underrepresented figures in science. That, along with numerous other forms of public engagement—including writing a children’s book about nanotechnology—is all in an effort to actually do something productive to correct gender and racial biases in STEM. She joined Tyler to discuss if there are any useful gender stereotypes in science, distinguishing between productive and unproductive ways to encourage women in science, whether science Twitter is biased toward men, how AI will affect gender participation gaps, how Wikipedia should be improved, how she judges the effectiveness of her Wikipedia articles, how she’d improve science funding, her work on chiral materials and its near-term applications, whether writing a kid’s science book should be rewarded in academia, what she learned spending a year studying art in Florence, what she’ll do next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 21st, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Jess on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 5 April 2023

Jonathan GPT Swift on Jonathan Swift

In this conversation, Tyler uses ChatGPT to interview Jonathan Swift about his views on religion, politics, economics, and literature. GPT Swift discusses his support for the Church of Ireland, his shift from the Whigs to the Tories, and his opposition to William Wood's copper coinage in Ireland. He also talks about his works, including Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal, and his skepticism of moral and intellectual progress. Swift addresses rumors about his relationship with Esther Johnson and his fascination with scatological themes in his works. He also discusses his early life in England, his intellectual mentor Sir William Temple, and his jovial attitude towards death. Special thanks to our Mercatus Center colleague Robin Currie for giving voice to Jonathan GPT Swift. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded March 23rd, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 29 March 2023

Tom Holland on History, Christianity, and the Value of the Countryside

Historian Tom Holland joined Tyler to discuss in what ways his Christianity is influenced by Lord Byron, how the Book of Revelation precipitated a revolutionary tradition, which book of the Bible is most foundational for Western liberalism, the political differences between Paul and Jesus, why America is more pro-technology than Europe, why Herodotus is his favorite writer, why the Greeks and Persians didn’t industrialize despite having advanced technology, how he feels about devolution in the United Kingdom and the potential of Irish unification, what existential problem the Church of England faces, how the music of Ennio Morricone helps him write for a popular audience, why Jurassic Park is his favorite movie, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded February 1st, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Tom on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 22 March 2023

Yasheng Huang on the Development of the Chinese State

Yasheng Huang has written two of Tyler’s favorite books on China: Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, which contrasts an entrepreneurial rural China and a state-controlled urban China, and The Rise and Fall of the EAST, which argues that Keju—China’s civil service exam system—played a key role in the growth and expanding power of the Chinese state. Yasheng joined Tyler to discuss China’s lackluster technological innovation, why declining foreign investment is more of a concern than a declining population, why Chinese literacy stagnated in the 19th century, how he believes the imperial exam system deprived China of a thriving civil society, why Chinese succession has been so stable, why the Six Dynasties is his favorite period in Chinese history, why there were so few female emperors, why Chinese and Chinese Americans have done less well becoming top CEOs of American companies compared to Indians and Indian Americans, where he’d send someone on a two week trip to China, what he learned from János Kornai, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded January 17th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Yasheng on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 8 March 2023

Brad DeLong on Intellectual and Technical Progress

Brad DeLong, professor of economics at UC Berkley, OG econ blogger, and Tyler’s Harvard classmate, joins the show to discuss Slouching Towards Utopia, an economic history of the 20th century that’s been nearly thirty years in the making. Tyler and Brad discuss what can really be gleaned from the fragmentary economics statistics of the late 19th century, the remarkable changes that occurred from 1870-1920, the astonishing flourishing of German universities in the 19th century, why investment banking allowed America and Germany to pull ahead of Britain economically, what enabled the Royal Society to become a force for progress, what Keynes got wrong, what Hayek got right, whether the middle-income trap persists, his favorite movie and novel, blogging vs. Substack, the Slouching Towards Utopia director’s cut, and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded November 11th, 2022 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Brad on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 22 February 2023

Glenn Loury on the Cover Story and the Real Story

Economist and public intellectual Glenn Loury joined Tyler to discuss the soundtrack of Glenn’s life, Glenn's early career in theoretical economics, his favorite Thomas Schelling story, the best place to raise a family in the US, the seeming worsening mental health issues among undergraduates, what he learned about himself while writing his memoir, what his right-wing fans most misunderstand about race, the key difference he has with John McWhorter, his evolving relationship with Christianity, the lasting influence of his late wife, his favorite novels and movies, how well he thinks he will face death, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 11th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Glenn on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 8 February 2023

Paul Salopek on Walking the World

Paul Salopek is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic fellow who, at the age of 50, set out on foot to retrace the steps of the first human migrations out of Africa. The project, dubbed the “Out of Eden Walk,” began in Ethiopia in 2012 and will eventually take him to Tierra Del Fuego, a distance of some 24,000 miles. Calling in just as he was about to arrive in Xi’an, he and Tyler discussed his very localized supply chain, why women make for better walking partners, the key to crossing deserts, the most difficult terrain to traverse, what he does for exercise, his information prep for each new region, how he’s kept the project funded, which cuisines he’s found most and least palatable, what he learned working the crime beat in Roswell, New Mexico, how this project challenges conventional journalism, his thoughts on the changing understanding of early human migration, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded October 13th, 2022 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Paul on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 25 January 2023

Rick Rubin on Listening, Taste, and the Act of Noticing

Rick Rubin has been behind some of the most iconic and successful albums in music history, and his unique approach to production and artist development has made him one of the most respected figures in the industry. He joined Tyler to discuss how to listen (to music and people), which artistic movement has influenced him most, what Sherlock Holmes taught him about creativity, how streaming is affecting music, whether AI will write good songs, what he likes about satellite radio, why pro wrestling is the most accurate representation of life, why growing up in Long Island was a “miracle,” his ‘do no harm’ approach to working with artist, what makes for a great live album, why Jimi Hendrix owed his success to embracing technology, what made Brian Eno and Brian Wilson great producers, what albums he's currently producing, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 13th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Rick on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 18 January 2023

Katherine Rundell on the Art of Words

Katherine Rundell is, in a word, enthusiastic. She’s enthusiastic about John Donne. She’s enthusiastic about walking along rooftops. She’s enthusiastic about words, and stories, and food. She has often started her morning with a cartwheel and is currently learning to fly a small plane. A prolific writer, her many children’s books aim to instill the sense of discovery she still remembers from her own unruly childhood adventures—and remind adults of the astonishment that still awaits them. She joined Tyler to discuss how she became obsessed with John Donne, the power of memorizing poetry, the political implications of suicide in the 17th century, the new evidence of Donne’s faith, the contagious intensity of thought in 17th century British life, the effect of the plague on national consciousness, the brutality of boys’ schooling, the thrills and dangers of rooftop walking, why children should be more mischievous, why she’d like to lower the voting age to 16, her favorite UK bookshop, the wonderful weirdness of Diana Wynne Jones, why she has at least one joke about Belgium in every book, what T.S. Eliot missed about John Donne, what it’s like to eat tarantula, the Kafka book she gives to toddlers, why The Book of Common Prayer is underrated, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded September 2nd, 2022 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 11 January 2023

Conversations with Tyler 2022 Retrospective

On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes talk about the past year on the show, including which guests he’d like to have on in 2023, what stands out to him now about his conversation with Sam Bankman-Fried in light of the collapse of FTX, the most popular and most underrated episodes of the year, what makes a guest authentic, why he hasn’t asked the “production function” question much this year, his essay on Marginal Revolution on the New Right, and what he’s working on next. They also evaluate Tyler’s pop culture picks from 2012 and answer listener questions from Twitter. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Support Conversations with Tyler by making a donation during this holiday season! Recorded December 14th, 2022 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Jeff on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 28 December 2022

John Adams on Composing and Creative Freedom

Is classical music dying? For John Adams the answer is an emphatic no. Considered by Tyler to be America’s greatest living composer, he may well be one of the people responsible for keeping it alive. John’s contemporary classical music is some of the most regularly performed and he is well-known for his historically themed operas such as Nixon in China, Doctor Atomic, and most recently Antony and Cleopatra. He is also a conductor and author of, in Tyler’s words, a “thoughtful and substantive” autobiography. He joined Tyler to discuss why architects have it easier than opera composers, what drew him to the story of Antony and Cleopatra, why he prefers great popular music to the classical tradition, the “memory spaces” he uses to compose, the role of Christianity in his work, the anxiety of influence, the unusual life of Charles Ives, the relationship between the availability and appreciation of music, how contemporary music got a bad rap, his favorite Bob Dylan album, why he doesn’t think San Francisco was crucial to his success, why he doesn’t believe classical music is dead or even dying, his fascination with Oppenheimer, the problem with film composing, his letter to Leonard Bernstein, what he’s doing next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded September 14th, 2022 Support the podcast by making a donation during this holiday season! Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 14 December 2022

Jeremy Grantham on Investing in Green Tech

When it comes to fighting climate change Jeremy Grantham is optimistic about technology – but worried about timing. Known widely for his acuity in identifying bubbles, the British investor contends that the one created by our dependence on fossil fuels is about to pop. He’s on a mission to make green energy cheaper, faster and is well on his way. After a lifetime spent thinking about resources, he’s using his to power the development of green technology. The Grantham Foundation has invested into 45 early-stage green projects, such as improving the efficiency of lithium extraction. He joined Tyler to discuss the most binding constraint on the green transition, why we need an alternative to lithium, the important message sent by Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the marginal cost basis of green energy, the topsoil crisis in the Midwest, why estimates of the cost of global warming vastly underestimate its effects, why he distrusts economists, the overpricing concentrated in the US stock market, the consequences of Brexit, the revolutionary tactics of Margaret Thatcher, how his grandparents shaped his worldview, why he’s optimistic about American venture capital, the secret to Boston’s success in asset management, how COVID changed his media diet, the political difficulty of passing carbon taxes, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded September 1st, 2022 Check out our new Conversations with Tyler merch here at mercatusmerch.com, and use the promo code UNDERRATED for 10% off! Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 30 November 2022

Ken Burns on the Complications of History

When it comes to history—particularly American history—nothing is ever definitive, says documentarian Ken Burns. Much of his work has focused on capturing that history in film, but in his new book, Our America: A Photographic History, his goal is to share the complexity of his country as well as honor those roots in still images. From the very first photograph, a self-portrait, to our modern inundation with selfies, he tells “the story of us” – a story of darkness and light, just as in the photographic process itself. Ken joined Tyler to discuss how facial expressions in photos have changed over time, where in the American past he’d like to visit most, the courage of staying in place, how he feels about intellectual property law, the ethical considerations of displaying violent imagery, why women were so prominent in the early history of American photography, the mysteries in his quilt collection, the most underrated American painter, why crossword puzzles are akin to a cup of coffee, why baseball won’t die out, the future of documentary-making, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded November 1st, 2022 Check out our new Conversations with Tyler merch here at mercatusmerch.com, and use the promo code UNDERRATED for 10% off! Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Ken on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 16 November 2022

Mary Gaitskill on Subjects That Are Vexing Everybody

Mary Gaitskill’s knack for writing about the social and physical world with unapologetic clarity has led to her style being described both as "cold and brutal” and “tender and compassionate.” Tyler considers her works The Mare, Veronica, and Lost Cat to be some of the best and most insightful American fiction in recent times. And lately she’s taken to writing essays on Substack, where she frankly analyzes “subjects that are vexing everybody,” including incels, Depp v. Heard, and political fiction. She joined Tyler to discuss the reasons some people seem to choose to be unhappy, why she writes about oddballs, the fragility of personality, how she’s developed her natural knack for describing the physical world, why we’re better off just accepting that people are horrible, her advice for troubled teenagers, why she wouldn’t clone a lost cat, the benefits and drawbacks of writing online, what she’s learned from writing a Substack, what gets lost in Kubrick’s adaptation of Lolita, the not-so-subtle eroticism of Victorian novels, the ground rules for writing about other people, how creative writing programs are harming (some) writers, what she learned about men when working as a stripper, how her views of sexual permissiveness have changed since the ‘90s, how college students have changed over time, what she learned working at The Strand bookstore, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded September 26th, 2022 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 2 November 2022

Reza Aslan on Martyrdom, Islam, and Revolution

Reza Aslan doesn’t mind being called a pantheist. In his own “roundabout spiritual journey” and study of the world’s religions, which has led him to write books on Islam, the life of Jesus Christ, God, and most recently an American martyr in Persia, he has come to believe the Sufi notion that religion is just a shell one must break through to truly understand God—and that if God is anything at all, then all is God. He joined Tyler to discuss Shi’a and Christian notions of martyrdom, the heroism of Howard Baskerville, the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Islam, esoteric vs. exoteric expressions of religion, how mystical movements arise more organically than religion, the conflicts over Imams in the Islamic world, how his upbringing as an Iranian immigrant shaped his view of religion, his roundabout spiritual journey, the synthesis of Spinoza and Sufism, the origins of Wahhabism, the relationship (or lackthereof) between religion and political philosophy, the sad repetition of history in Iran, his favorite Iranian movie, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded October 12th, 2022 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter Follow Reza on Twitter Email us: [email protected] Subscribe at our newsletter page to have the latest Conversations with Tyler news sent straight to your inbox.

Transcribed - Published: 19 October 2022

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