2nd Annual Roberts Podcast

Last year on Memorial Day Russ Roberts published his first podcast interview with me, that time on mostly on medicine.  This year again on Memorial Day Russ published his second podcast interview with me, this time more on signaling in human behavior and related topics.  It is long and somewhat rambling, and I may not have been in top form, but it sure was fun.  Dare I hope to do it again next year? 

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  • On the topic of cynicism and Public Choice, I thought I’d link to this on altruistic professions really behaving altruistically.

    I thought it was a good podcast.

  • stuart

    I read this post before I listened and I your handwringing made me wonder if I should be enjoying it as much I was…

  • josh

    That was fun. Thanks.

  • Robin: That was interesting, and definately some stuff to think about.

    Thinking about it a bit while listening to it made me a bit uncomfortable, but… either way, I’d rather know than not know, rather have more self knowledge than less. I’ll just have to keep reminding myself as I do find those things out the whole “what’s true is already true and I’ve already been living with it” thing.

    On the other hand, I may start getting paranoid about myself. What was I trying to signal by typing the above? What am I signalling by asking that? What about that? etc, so I’ll have to be careful lest my head a splode.

    Got a question about all of it, though: To what extent would to say the signalling behavior is “deliberate”, in the sense of some part of us, subconsciously, going “I gotta signal such and such” in some sense, vs the signalling behaviors simply being behaviors that were selected for because they signal certain things _without_ us in any sense intending signalling?

  • Psy, I’m not sure what “deliberate” means beyond “conscious.” Perhaps you have in mind how well adapted to context are these behaviors. I suspect they are a lot more adapted than many guess.

  • Would have to think about it a bit more, but yeah, adapted to context is probably close to what I thought I meant.

    Basically, I meant something like, say, consider potentially altruistic behavior X… are we on some level computing how to do X in a way that’ll do good (by some meaning of that term), and the desire/etc to do that was selected for because it “sent the right signals”, or insted is some part of us explicity computing what actions to take to send the right signals? (Well, obviously the latter is true at least sometimes. I meant to what extent would the former type of thing is going on vs the latter type of thing?)

    Does that clarify what I meant?

  • Ross Smith

    Relatively awful, inefficient podcast. The interviewer was more interested in himself and his (mis)interpretations and (mis)applications of signaling than in letting us hear your ideas. Nevertheless, you were kindly patient.

  • josh


    I know what you mean about Roberts, but “relatively awful” compared to what? It was still pretty good relative to any podcast I’ve ever heard.

  • PK

    That was a great podcast. I finally get what you mean by ‘signaling’.

  • Great podcast! Here is an example of how signaling theory applies to Christian dating.