On several podcasts, Roberts has explored the “replicability crisis” in psychology and other disciplines and biases of various kinds in economics, climate science, medicine and other fields. He’s also sensitive to the law of unintended consequences. One guest that I recall from a few years ago spoke of the irony that as we make appliances more energy efficient, we can actually increase energy usage rather than reducing it. Gas stations take advantage of the lower price of refrigerators, for example, by stocking more sodas and other drinks. Each refrigerator is more efficient than its predecessor, but the result can be more overall energy use.
Roberts is unyielding on the topic of the bank bailouts. Several podcasts have explored the run-up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Roberts’ explanation of how we came to be a country that privatizes bankers’ profits and socializes their losses is soon to be a book.
Though the podcast is titled “EconTalk,” it’s really about much more — from organ selling, to empathy (an overrated virtue, according to Paul Bloom), to how museums hoard art, to food waste (it’s OK!), to the moral (not just economic) insights of Adam Smith. The podcast stimulates the soul as well as the mind.
Writes for Creators Syndicate.