“What was once destiny is now a decision.”— Russ Roberts
Russ Roberts (@EconTalker) is the president of Shalem College in Jerusalem and the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Russ is interested in making complicated ideas understandable. He founded and hosts the award-winning weekly podcast EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious, with more than 800 episodes available in the archives. Past guests include Christopher Hitchens, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Lewis, Angela Duckworth, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. His two rap videos on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek have more than 13 million views on YouTube.
His latest book, Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us, explores the challenges of using rationality when facing big life decisions. He is also the author of Gambling With Other People’s Money, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, The Price of Everything, The Invisible Heart, and The Choice.
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.
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Want to hear a podcast episode with someone who frequently collaborates with Russ Roberts? Listen to my interview with devoted economics educator Tyler Cowen, in which we discuss his goal to teach economics to more people than anyone else in the history of the world, the mental benefits of listening to complex music, remaining meta-rational during times of duress or panic, fiction recommendations for nonfiction purists, learning from those who offend us, the writing process, committing to kindness, and much more.
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Russ Roberts:
- Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us by Russ Roberts | Amazon
- EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious with Russ Roberts
- Gambling with Other People’s Money: How Perverse Incentives Caused the Financial Crisis by Russ Roberts | Amazon
- How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts | Amazon
- The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity by Russ Roberts | Amazon
- The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance by Russ Roberts | Amazon
- The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protection by Russ Roberts | Amazon
- Eulogy for My Father (Expanded) by Russ Roberts | Medium
- Shalem Meaning in The Old Testament | Bible Study Tools
- Fear the Boom and Bust: The 1st Keynes vs. Hayek Rap Battle | Emergent Order
- Fight of the Century: The 2nd Keynes vs. Hayek Rap Battle | Emergent Order
- The Pretense of Knowledge by Friedrich August von Hayek | Nobel Prize
- Who Was Friedrich Hayek? What Was His Economic Theory? | Investopedia
- What Is Scientism, and Why Is It a Mistake? | Big Think
- Who Was John Maynard Keynes? What Is Keynesian Economics? | Investopedia
- The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism by F.A. Hayek | Amazon
- Man of System | Adam Smith Works
- Unintended Consequences | Econlib
- The Cost of Raising a Child in the United States | Investopedia
- Did Lord Kelvin Say: “If You Cannot Measure It, You Cannot Improve It?” | Skeptics
- Charles Darwin’s List of the Pros and Cons of Marriage | The Marginalian
- What is Q.E.D. (Quod Erat Demonstrandum)? | Carneades.org
- The Odyssey by Homer | Amazon
- Alain de Botton: Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person | The School of Life
- Blue Pill or Red Pill Scene | The Matrix
- A Psychological Tip by Piet Hein | My Poetic Side
- Economies of Scale | Investopedia
- My Fair Lady | Prime Video
- I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face | My Fair Lady
- The New England Patriots
- How a Book on Stoicism Became Wildly Popular at Every Level of the NFL | Sports Illustrated
- Shalem College
- The Second Temple | Jewish Virtual Library
- “Trip of Compassion” — The Most Compelling Movie I’ve Seen In The Last Year | Tim Ferriss
- Jerusalem: The Old City | Jewish Virtual Library
- The Temple Mount in Jerusalem | Blue Letter Bible
- Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know | CDC
- What Life Was Like During the London Blitz | JSTOR Daily
- How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed Americans’ Personal Lives | Pew Research Center
- Shabbat 101 | My Jewish Learning
- Incerto: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Bed of Procrustes, Antifragile, Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb | Amazon
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Rationality, Risk, and Skin in the Game | EconTalk
- Great Falls Park | US National Park Service
- The Collapse of Lehman Brothers: A Case Study | Investopedia
- What Is the Talmud? | My Jewish Learning
- Russ Roberts and the Quest to Make Economics Interesting | Priceonomics
- Tyler Cowen on Reading | EconTalk
- Russ Roberts on Life as an Economics Educator | Conversations with Tyler
- Immanent Definition & Meaning | Merriam-Webster
- Best Bay Area Spots for Stargazing | Things to Do | bayareaparent.com
- Yosemite National Park | US National Park Service
- The Negev Desert | Jewish Virtual Library
- Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman | Amazon
- Next to Normal | Broadway Musical Home
- Psychedelics 101: Books, Documentaries, Podcasts, Science, and More | Tim Ferriss
- [06:36] How Russ’ father chose to cultivate fatherhood.
- [10:45] Does quality time demand quantity time?
- [12:31] What does Shalem mean?
- [14:10] What’s wrong with scientism?
- [20:56] The curious task of economics, according to F.A. Hayek.
- [23:18] What is a Hayekian?
- [25:09] What prompted Russ to write Wild Problems?
- [29:05] How Russ’ ideas about data have changed over the years.
- [33:04] Making decisions: Charles Darwin vs. Homer vs. Russ.
- [43:30] What makes people ideal life partners?
- [52:19] Marriage as a form of growing up.
- [56:53] Life lessons from Bill Belichick.
- [1:02:04] Why Russ and his wife decided to move to Israel.
- [1:07:45] Impressions of Jerusalem since making the move.
- [1:13:34] The role of religion in Russ’ life.
- [1:22:00] Life lessons from Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
- [1:29:16] Thoughts on The Talmud, reading, and spending time in a finite life.
- [1:35:14] You don’t have to be religious to have transcendent experiences.
- [1:41:31] Tips for staying humble.
- [1:48:48] Parting thoughts.
MORE GUEST QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW
“There are two kinds of ignorance. There are the things we don’t know, and then there are the things we think we know that aren’t true. The things we know that we don’t know that we wish we understood, we wish we had access to the truth. There are things we think we’ve discovered as true that in fact are not.”
— Russ Roberts
“Yes, sometimes the future is somewhat like the past, except for when it isn’t and then it smacks you in the face.”
— Russ Roberts
“The sources that make our life deeply meaningful and purposeful are not just the day-to-day things. There are overarching senses of who we are and how we see ourselves and the meaning and purpose we have in life that are ultimately more important in these kinds of decisions. And these kinds of decisions—which are whether to get married, whether to have kids, how many kids to have, whether to move to Israel, whether to take a new job, whether to study something crazy at college—those decisions are not amenable to data.”
— Russ Roberts
“I don’t like it when people say, ‘You have to work at your marriage. You have to work at it.’ That’s not the way I think of my marriage. I work at crossword puzzles. I work at ditch digging. I work at brightening up my notes for my next podcast. But what you do have to do is you have to treat your partner as a partner, as opposed to somebody who lives with you, who’s a plus to have as a roommate. They’re two different things.”
— Russ Roberts
“Religion, meditation, psychotherapy, marriage—they’re all about self-awareness, if they’re done well. They’re all about recognizing that you’re a part of a much bigger picture than you feel like most of the time. I think that’s really helpful and incredibly satisfying when you sense it.”
— Russ Roberts
“One of the things you learn from economics is trade-offs. Trade-offs are really obvious when you think about them, but like many things we’re talking about in this conversation, they’re hard to remember to think about.”
— Russ Roberts
“What was once destiny is now a decision.”
— Russ Roberts
“If you read a book a week, which is a lot, you’re going to read about 50 books a year. If you’re around for about 50 years of reading, maybe a little more, but it’s 2,500 books. That’s it. That’s it. There’s 100,000 books, I think, maybe more, I don’t even remember now how many books are published a year — maybe it’s a million. It’s a big number.”
— Russ Roberts
“The world often emerges from the bottom up and not just from the top down. And many things that are orderly, that we see around us, are not designed by anyone, but rather emerge from the individual choices we make.”
— Russ Roberts
- Christopher Hitchens
- Martha Nussbaum
- Michael Lewis
- Angela Duckworth
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- John Maynard Keynes
- Friedrich August Hayek
- Robert Frost
- Edna St. Vincent Millay
- Tyler Cowen
- John Papola
- Adam Smith
- Karl Marx
- Vladimir Lenin
- Mao Zedong
- Lord Kelvin
- Ernest Hemingway
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Charles Darwin
- Alain de Botton
- Piet Hein
- William Shakespeare
- Jane Austen
- Henry Higgins
- Eliza Doolittle
- Anne Lamott
- Bill Belichick
- Herod the Great
- Joseph Campbell
- Viktor Frankl
- Yehuda Amichai
- Paul McCartney
- Bruce Springsteen
- Milton Friedman
- Matt Mullenweg
- Seth Roberts
- Alan Lightman
- Rachel Bay Jones
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.