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Conversations with Tyler

Education • Society-and-culture

Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Popular episodes

Ruth Scurr on the Art of Biography

Dec 1 • 51:01

The most challenging part of being a biographer for Ruth Scurr is finding the best form to tell a life. “You can't go in there with a workmanlike attitude saying, ‘I'm going to do cradle to grave.’ You’ve got to somehow connect and resonate with the life, and then things will develop from that.” Known for her innovative literary portraits of Robespierre and John Aubrey, Sc...

David Rubenstein on Private Equity, Public Art, and Philanthropy

Nov 17 • 56:25

Baltimore native David Rubenstein is a founding figure in private equity, a prolific philanthropist, and author. From leveraged buyouts to his patriotic philanthropy to his leadership roles within institutions like the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, and the National Gallery of Art, David has spent much of his life evaluating what makes institutions—and people—succeed....

David Salle on the Experience of Art

Nov 3 • 46:33

When the audience for visual art expanded from small circles of artists and collectors into broader culture, the way art was experienced shifted from aesthetics to explanation. Art, it became thought, should be about something. But David Salle rebukes this literal-mindedness: according to him, what we think and feel when reacting to a piece of art is more authoritative tha...

Stanley McChrystal on the Military, Leadership, and Risk

Oct 20 • 53:57

Stan McChrystal has spent a long career considering questions of risk, leadership, and the role of America’s military, having risen through the Army’s ranks ultimately to take command of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a force representing 150,000 troops from 45 countries. Retiring as a four-star general in 2010, he has gone on to lecture at Yale and launched the Mc...

Claudia Goldin on the Economics of Inequality

Oct 6 • 49:06

Harvard professor Claudia Goldin has made a name for herself tackling difficult questions. What was the full economic cost of the American Civil War? Does education increase or lessen income inequality? What causes the gender pay gap—and how do you even measure it? Her approach, which often involves the unearthing of new historical data, has yielded lasting insights in sev...

Amia Srinivasan on Utopian Feminism

Sep 22 • 01:05:02

What is our right to be desired? How are our sexual desires shaped by the society around us? Is consent sufficient for a sexual relationship? In the wake of the #MeToo movement, public debates about sex work, and the rise in popularity of “incel culture”, philosopher Amia Srinivasan explores these questions and more in her new book of essays, The Right to Sex: Feminism in ...

David Cutler and Ed Glaeser on the Health and Wealth of Cities

Sep 8 • 01:19:04

With remote work becoming more common and cities competing for businesses it’s become easier than ever before for educated Americans to relocate, leaving cities more vulnerable than they’ve ever been. In their new book, Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation, economists David Cutler and Ed Glaeser examine the factors that will allow some cities to...

Zeynep Tufekci on the Sociology of The Moment (Live)

Aug 25 • 01:05:56

When Zeynep Tufekci penned a New York Times op-ed at the onset of the pandemic challenging the prevailing public health guidance that ordinary people should not wear masks, she thought it was the end of her public writing career. Instead, it helped provoke the CDC to reverse its guidance a few weeks later, and medical professionals privately thanked her for writing it. Wh...

Andrew Sullivan on Braving New Intellectual Journeys

Aug 11 • 55:16

Upon learning he was HIV positive in 1993, Andrew Sullivan began writing more than he ever had before. Believing that he didn’t have long to live, he wanted to leave behind a book detailing his best argument for refocusing the gay rights movement on marriage equality and military service. Three decades later and Sullivan has not only lived to see the book published, but al...

Niall Ferguson on Why We Study History

Jul 28 • 54:06

While the modern historical ethos can be obsessed with condescending to the past based on our current value system, Scottish-born historian Niall Ferguson has aimed to set himself apart with his willingness to examine the past in its own context. The result is some wildly unpopular opinions such as “The British Empire was good, actually” and several wildly popular books, s...

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