225 episodes

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.

Conversations with Tyler Mercatus Center Podcasts

    • Education
    • 4.8 • 2.2K Ratings

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.

    Velina Tchakarova on China, Russia, and the Future of Geopolitics

    Velina Tchakarova on China, Russia, and the Future of Geopolitics

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    You could try playing out the four-dimensional chess game of how the global order will shift in the next 10-15 years for yourself, or you could hire Velina Tchakarova. Founder of the consultancy FACE, Velina is a geopolitical strategist guiding businesses and organizations to anticipate the outcomes of global conflicts, shifting alliances, and bleeding edge technologies on the world stage.
    In a globe-trotting conversation, Tyler and Velina start in the Balkans and then head to Russia, China, North Korea, and finally circle back to Putin’s interest in the Baltics. She gives her take on whether the Balkan Wars still matter today, the future of Bulgarian nationalism, what predicts which Eastern European countries will remain closer to Russia, why China will not attack Taiwan, Putin’s next move after Ukraine, where a nuclear weapon is most likely to be used next, how she sources intel, her unique approach to scenario-planning, and more.
    Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.
    Recorded May 20th, 2024.
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    Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Velina on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: cowenconvos@mercatus.gmu.edu Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

    • 51 min
    Michael Nielsen on Collaboration, Quantum Computing, and Civilization's Fragility

    Michael Nielsen on Collaboration, Quantum Computing, and Civilization's Fragility

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    Michael Nielsen is a scientist who helped pioneer quantum computing and the modern open science movement. He's worked at Y Combinator, co-authored on scientific progress with Patrick Collison, and is a prolific writer, reader, commentator, and mentor. 

    He joined Tyler to discuss why the universe is so beautiful to human eyes (but not ears), how to find good collaborators, the influence of Simone Weil, where Olaf Stapledon's understand of the social word went wrong, potential applications of quantum computing, the (rising) status of linear algebra, what makes for physicists who age well, finding young mentors, why some scientific fields have pre-print platforms and others don't, how so many crummy journals survive, the threat of cheap nukes, the many unknowns of Mars colonization, techniques for paying closer attention, what you learn when visiting the USS Midway, why he changed his mind about Emergent Ventures, why he didn't join OpenAI in 2015, what he'll learn next, and more. 

    Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.
    Recorded March 24th, 2024.
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    Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Michael on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: cowenconvos@mercatus.gmu.edu Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Benjamin Moser on the Dutch Masters, Brazil, and Cultural Icons

    Benjamin Moser on the Dutch Masters, Brazil, and Cultural Icons

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    Benjamin Moser is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer celebrated for his in-depth studies of literary and cultural figures such as Susan Sontag and Clarice Lispector. His latest book, which details a twenty-year love affair with the Dutch masters, is one of Tyler's favorite books on art criticism ever.
    Benjamin joined Tyler to discuss why Vermeer was almost forgotten, how Rembrandt was so productive, what auctions of the old masters reveals about current approaches to painting, why Dutch art hangs best in houses, what makes the Kunstmuseum in the Hague so special, why Dutch students won't read older books, Benjamin's favorite Dutch movie, the tensions within Dutch social tolerance, the joys of living in Utrecht, why Latin Americans make for harder interview subjects, whether Brasilia works as a city, why modernism persisted in Brazil, how to appreciate Clarice Lispector, Susan Sontag's (waning) influence, V.S. Naipaul’s mentorship, Houston's intellectual culture, what he's learning next, and more.
    Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.
    Recorded February 15th, 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: cowenconvos@mercatus.gmu.edu Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credit: Philippe Quaisse

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Coleman Hughes on Colorblindness, Jazz, and Identity

    Coleman Hughes on Colorblindness, Jazz, and Identity

    Coleman Hughes believes we should strive to ignore race both in public policy and in our private lives. But when it comes to personal identity and expression, how feasible is this to achieve? And are there any other individual traits we should also seek to ignore?
    Coleman and Tyler explore the implications of colorblindness, including whether jazz would've been created in a color-blind society, how easy it is to disentangle race and culture, whether we should also try to be 'autism-blind', and Coleman's personal experience with lookism and ageism. They also discuss what Coleman’s learned from J.J. Johnson, the hardest thing about performing the trombone, playing sets in the Charles Mingus Big Band as a teenager, whether Billy Joel is any good, what reservations he has about his conservative fans, why the Beastie Boys are overrated, what he's learned from Noam Dworman, why Interstellar is Chris Nolan's masterpiece, the Coleman Hughes production function, why political debate is so toxic, what he'll do next, and more.
    Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.
    Recorded March 6th, 2024.
    Other ways to connect
    Follow us on X and Instagram Follow Tyler on X Follow Coleman on X Sign up for our newsletter Join our Discord Email us: cowenconvos@mercatus.gmu.edu Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credit: Evan Mann

    • 56 min
    Peter Thiel on Political Theology

    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: cowenconvos@mercatus.gmu.edu Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Jonathan Haidt on Adjusting to Smartphones and Social Media

    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: cowenconvos@mercatus.gmu.edu Learn more about Conversations with Tyler and other Mercatus Center podcasts here. Photo Credits: Jayne Riew

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.2K Ratings

2.2K Ratings

Manny CR ,

Thank you!

Congrats on the amazing podcast!!

Beavis67 ,

Velina Tchakarova

Yikes. Who thought she would be a good guest? Back to drawing boards guys and gals.

JB20152015 ,

Disappointed

I was a regular listener until the episodes with Marilynne Robinson and Jonathan Haidt. Both are highly articulate thinkers who can develop extended arguments when they have an interlocutor who is able to listen carefully and follow with their thought process. Tyler’s form of engagement, however, continually interrupted the flow of their reflections in an unhelpful and frustrating way. I was disappointed by his insensitivity to the natural flow of those conversations, and I began to realize that this podcast’s method simply does not allow guests to develop longer trains of thought. So I stopped listening and have not missed it.

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