My Podcast with Russ Roberts

Russ Roberts has an interesting series of podcast interviews of economists, most of who are much more distinguished than I.  Today Russ Roberts posts his interview with me, mostly on medicine, but also on a few other topics. 

The point I make more clearly there than I have before is the importance of not trying to immediately offer ad hoc explanations for every puzzling observation you see.  Instead, collect many puzzles, spread them out on the table before you, and look for a few simple assumptions than can explain many diverse puzzles at once.  This is the key discipline of armchair social science. 

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  • Bruce G Charlton

    “collect many puzzles, spread them out on the table before you, and look for a few simple assumptions than can explain many diverse puzzles at once”

    A brilliant, clarifying observation – thanks!

  • Lee Kelly

    I enjoyed the podcast. I had the same theory some time ago, and very excited about it for a short while. I called it the Pleistocene Insurance Policy. That is, a neurocomputational algorithm to generate an informal social insurance, though I don’t think it applies only to healthcare.

    For example, consider the aid efforts that follow a disaster, such as hurricane Katrina. The same attitudes prevail, with clampdowns of “price gougers” and a moral imperative to use government to provide aid.

    I’d be very interested in furthering the theory, and other applications of evolutionary psychology to economic fallacies.

  • Doug S.

    I hate listening to podcasts; I read so much faster than people talk. Can I get a transcript somewhere?

  • Boris Fandak

    Hi Robin,
    It was very interesting to listening to the podcast. I really liked your argument that people do not want to be responsible for their health, because they do not like to think about their own death. Also your argument about showing that you care about your fellow men seems interesting, it reminds me the Hayek’s “fatal conceit”. I also find very shocking that healtcare has no influence on health at all… Is there any source where I could find out more about this particiular research?
    Thanks for the answer.
    With Regards,
    Boris Fandak

  • http://profile.typekey.com/robinhanson/ Robin Hanson

    Boris, more info is at the links from here.