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  • Annie Duke on the Power of Quitting
    Annie Duke is angry that quitting gets such a bad rap. Instead of our relentless focus on grit and "going for it," the former professional poker player, decision strategist, and author of Quit wants us to recognize the costs associated with sticking to a losing outcome. Listen as she explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts how society's conflation of grit with character has made quitting unnecessarily hard, and why our desire for certainty harms our decision-making ability. Additional topics include the flawed mental accounting that makes us confuse wins for losses, what we can learn from ants, and the tragic story of how the refusal to quit cost 16 lives one terrible night at the top of Mt. Everest.
  • Johnathan Bi on Mimesis and René Girard
    When the 20-year-old overachiever Johnathan Bi's first startup crashed and burned, he headed to a Zen retreat in the Catskills to "debug himself." He discovered René Girard and his mimetic theory--the idea that imitation is a key and often unconscious driver of human behavior. Listen as entrepreneur and philosopher Bi shares with EconTalk host Russ Roberts what he learned from Girard and Girard's insights into how we meet our primal need for money, fame, and power. The conversation includes the contrasts between economics and Girard's perspective.
  • Agnes Callard on Meaning, the Human Quest, and the Aims of Education
    Suppose all of humanity was infected by a virus that left us all infertile--no one will come along after us. How would you react to such a world? Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago says she would be filled with despair. But why does this seem worse than our own inevitable deaths? Callard speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the meaning of life, and what exactly about the end of humanity is so demoralizing. The conversation concludes with a discussion of whether humanity is making progress.
  • Jessica Todd Harper on Beauty, Family, and Photography
    When everyone is carrying a camera in their pocket, what raises the act of taking pictures to the level of fine art photography? Jessica Todd Harper, the award-winning portrait photographer, says that it's equal parts mindset and technique--and lots of setting the stage to seize that perfect light. Listen as Harper speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her desire to capture the complexity of life in a single image, why family relationships and home life are her chosen subjects, and the integral role beauty plays in her images, despite its diminished status in art today.
  • Michael Munger on Industrial Policy
    Economist and political scientist Michael Munger of Duke University talks about industrial policy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Munger argues that in a democracy, the default outcome for industrial policy is crony capitalism--attempts to improve on that outcome either by appointing experts or eliminating cronyism are going to fail for political reasons. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the reliability of Munger's claim and what options are left for dissatisfied reformers.

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