19 episodes

Steve Levitt, the iconoclastic University of Chicago economist and co-author of the Freakonomics book series, tracks down other high achievers and asks questions that only he would think to ask. Guests include all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, WNBA champion Sue Bird, Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui, and neuroscientist/actress Mayim Bialik.

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    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 677 Ratings

Steve Levitt, the iconoclastic University of Chicago economist and co-author of the Freakonomics book series, tracks down other high achievers and asks questions that only he would think to ask. Guests include all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, WNBA champion Sue Bird, Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui, and neuroscientist/actress Mayim Bialik.

    Emily Oster: “I Am a Woman Who Is Prominently Discussing Vaginas.”

    Emily Oster: “I Am a Woman Who Is Prominently Discussing Vaginas.”

    In addition to publishing best-selling books about pregnancy and child-rearing, Emily Oster is a respected economist at Brown University. Over the course of the pandemic, she’s become the primary collector of data about Covid-19 in schools. Steve and Emily discuss how she became an advocate for school reopening, how economists think differently from the average person, and whether pregnant women really need to avoid coffee.

    • 42 min
    Joshua Jay: “Humans Are So, So Easy to Fool.”

    Joshua Jay: “Humans Are So, So Easy to Fool.”

    He’s a world-renowned magician who’s been performing since he was seven years old. But Joshua Jay is also an author, toy maker, and consultant for film and television. Steve Levitt talks to him about how magicians construct tricks, how Joshua’s academic studies of magic have influenced Levitt’s life, and whether Jesus might have been a magician.

    • 42 min
    Tim Harford: “If You Can Make Sure You're Not An Idiot, You've Done Well.”

    Tim Harford: “If You Can Make Sure You're Not An Idiot, You've Done Well.”

    He’s a former World Bank economist who became a prolific journalist and the author of one of Steve Levitt’s favorite books, The Undercover Economist. Tim Harford lives in England, where he’s made it his mission to help the public understand statistics. In their conversation, Steve gives Tim some feedback on his new book, The Data Detective, contemplates if it’s possible to tell great stories with data, and Tim explains how making mistakes can be fun. 

    • 42 min
    Yul Kwon (Part 2): “Hey, Do You Have Any Bright Ideas?”

    Yul Kwon (Part 2): “Hey, Do You Have Any Bright Ideas?”

    He’s so fascinating that Steve Levitt brought him back for a second conversation. Yul Kwon currently works at Google, but he’s been a lawyer, political organizer, government regulator, organ donation activist, and Survivor winner. Steve asks Yul why he’s so altruistic, how Google and Apple are helping track COVID-19, and whether the best way to pick a president might be a reality show.

    • 29 min
    Yul Kwon: “Don't Try to Change Yourself All at Once.”

    Yul Kwon: “Don't Try to Change Yourself All at Once.”

    He has been a lawyer, an instructor at the F.B.I. Academy, the owner of a frozen-yogurt chain, and a winner of the TV show Survivor. Today, Kwon works at Google, where he helped build tools to track the spread of COVID-19. But things haven’t always come easily for him. Steve Levitt talks to Kwon about his debilitating childhood anxieties, his compulsion to choose the hardest path in life, and how Kwon used his obsession with game theory to stage a come-from-behind victory on Survivor.

    • 35 min
    Sue Bird: “You Have to Pay the Superstars.”

    Sue Bird: “You Have to Pay the Superstars.”

    She is one of the best basketball players ever. She’s won multiple championships, including four Olympic gold medals and four W.N.B.A. titles — the most recent in 2020, just before turning 40. She also helped negotiate a landmark contract for the league’s players. Sue Bird tells Steve Levitt the untold truth about clutch players, her thoughts about the pay gap between male and female athletes, and what it means to be part of the first gay couple in ESPN’s The Body Issue.   

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
677 Ratings

677 Ratings

Daily podcast listener ,

Surprisingly good

I almost didn’t listen to the episode with the magician, figuring there was nothing about magic that would interest me. But I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the guest was and what an interesting perspective he had on so many things. Well done.

GzusHD ,

Humans are easy to fool.

Jesus street magic...lol. I love it! I know they tried to skirt away from it, but I wish they would of dove into more depth. Hope you don’t get to much backlash on it.

GBinBurg ,

Great Idea...Right Person...Always Worth the Time

I so enjoy this podcast...thanks!

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