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Conversations with Tyler

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

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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.
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Take our Listener Survey Benjamin Moser is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer celebrated for his in-depth studies of literary and cultural figures such as Susan Sontag and Clarice Lispector. His latest book, which details a twenty-year love affair with the Dutch masters, is one of Tyler's favorite books on art criticism ever. Benjamin joined Tyler to …
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Coleman Hughes believes we should strive to ignore race both in public policy and in our private lives. But when it comes to personal identity and expression, how feasible is this to achieve? And are there any other individual traits we should also seek to ignore? Coleman and Tyler explore the implications of colorblindness, including whether jazz …
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In this conversation recorded live in Miami, Tyler and Peter Thiel dive deep into the complexities of political theology, including why it’s a concept we still need today, why Peter’s against Calvinism (and rationalism), whether the Old Testament should lead us to be woke, why Carl Schmitt is enjoying a resurgence, whether we’re entering a new age …
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In The Anxious Generation, Jonathan Haidt explores the simultaneous rise in teen mental illness across various countries, attributing it to a seismic shift from a "play-based childhood" to a "phone-based childhood" around the early 2010s. He argues that the negative effects of this "great rewiring of childhood" will continue to worsen without the a…
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Those who know Fareed Zakaria through his weekly column or CNN show may be surprised to learn he considers books the important way he can put new ideas in the world. But Fareed's original aspiration was to be an academic, and it was a chance lunch with Walter Isaacson that convinced him to apply for a job as editor of Foreign Affairs instead of acc…
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Marilynne Robinson is one of America's best and best-known novelists and essayists, whose award-winning works like Housekeeping and Gilead explore themes of faith, grace, and the intricacies of human nature. Beyond her writing, Robinson's 25-year tenure at the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop allowed her to shape and inspire the new generations of writ…
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In this interview, recorded at a16z’s 2024 American Dynamism Summit, Tyler and Marc Andreessen engage in a rapid-fire dialogue about the future of AI, including the biggest change we’ll see in the next five years, who will gain and lose status with the rise of LLMs, why open-source is important for national security, the best and worst parts of Bid…
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Marc Rowan, co-founder and CEO of Apollo Global Management, joined Tyler to discuss why rising interest rates won't hurt Apollo's profitability, why liabilities have traditionally been the weak spot in insurance, why the concept of liquidity needs a rethink, the meaninglessness of the term "private credit", what role crypto will play in American fi…
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A conductor, harpsichordist, and organist, Masaaki Suzuki stands as a towering figure in Baroque music, renowned for his comprehensive and top-tier recordings of Bach's works, including all of Bach's sacred and secular cantatas. Suzuki's unparalleled dedication extends beyond Bach, with significant contributions to the works of Mozart, Handel, and …
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Ami Vitale is a renowned National Geographic photographer and documentarian with a deep commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental education. Her work, spanning over a hundred countries, includes spending a decade as a conflict photographer in places like Kosovo, Gaza, and Kashmir. She joined Tyler to discuss why we should stay scary to …
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Rebecca F. Kuang just might change the way you think about fantasy and science fiction. Known for her best-selling books Babel and The Poppy War trilogy, Kuang combines a unique blend of historical richness and imaginative storytelling. At just 27, she’s already published five novels, and her compulsion to write has not abated even as she's pursued…
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Few can measure the impact of a blog post they wrote, in the millions of dollars a year, but Patrick McKenzie has the receipts. His 2012 post on salary negotiation is read hundreds of thousands of times each year, and he has a Gmail folder brimming with success stories. This achievement is just of his many contributions, which include starting seve…
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On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes look back on the past year in the show and more, including the most popular and underrated episodes, the origins of the show as an occasional event series, the most difficult guests to prep for, the story behind EconGOAT.AI, Tyler's favorite podcast appearance of the year, and h…
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In her third appearance on the show, Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop joins Tyler and a group of special guests to celebrate the release of Invitation to a Banquet, her new book exploring the history, philosophy, and techniques of Chinese culinary culture. As with her previous appearance, this conversation was held over a banquet meal at Mama Cha…
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John Gray is a philosopher and writer renowned for his critical examination of liberalism, atheism, and the human condition. His unique perspective is shaped over a decades-long career, during which he has authored influential books on topics ranging from political theory to what we can learn from cats about on how to live a good life. His latest b…
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Jennifer Burns is a professor of history at Stanford who works at the intersection of intellectual, political, and cultural history. She’s written two biographies Tyler highly recommends: her 2009 book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right and her latest, Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative, provides a nuanced look into the inf…
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Brian Koppelman is a writer, director, and producer known for his work on films like Rounders and Solitary Man, the hit TV show Billions, and his podcast The Moment, which explores pivotal moments in creative careers. Tyler and Brian sat down to discuss why TV wasn’t good for so long, whether he wants viewers to binge his shows, how he’d redesign m…
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As a follow-up to the episode featuring Stephen Jennings, we’re releasing two bonus conversations showing the daily life, culture, and politics of Nairobi and Kenya at large. This second installment features Githae Githinji, a Kikuyu elder and businessman working in Tatu City, a massive mixed-used development spearheaded by Jennings. Born in 1958 a…
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As a follow-up to the episode featuring Stephen Jennings, we’re releasing two bonus conversations showing the daily life, culture, and politics of Nairobi and Kenya at large. This first installment features Harriet Muriithi. Harriet is a 22-year-old hospitality professional living and working in Tatu City, a massive mixed-used development spearhead…
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Stephen and Tyler first met over thirty years ago while working on economic reforms in New Zealand. With a distinguished career that transitioned from the New Zealand Treasury to significant ventures in emerging economies, Stephen now focuses on developing new urban landscapes across Africa as the founder and CEO of Rendeavour. Tyler sat down with …
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Jacob Mikanowski is the author of one of Tyler’s favorite books this year called Goodbye, Eastern Europe: An Intimate History of a Divided Land. Tyler and Jacob sat down to discuss all things Eastern Europe, including the differences between Eastern and Western European humor, whether Poles are smiling more nowadays, why the best Polish folk art is…
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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 yielde…
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Ada Palmer is a Renaissance historian at the University of Chicago who studies radical free thought and censorship, composes music, consults on anime and manga, and is the author of the acclaimed Terra Ignota sci-fi series, among many other things. Tyler sat down with Ada to discuss why living in the Renaissance was worse than living during the Mid…
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Lazarus Lake is a renowned ultramarathon runner and designer. His most famous creation (along with his friend Raw Dog) is the Barkley Marathons, an absurdly difficult 100-mile race through the Tennessee wilderness that only 17 people have ever finished in its nearly 30-year existence. Tyler and Laz discuss what running 100 miles tells you about you…
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In this special episode, Tyler sat down with Jerusalem Demsas, staff writer at The Atlantic, to discuss three books: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, and Of Boys and Men by Richard V. Reeves. Spanning centuries and genres and yet provoking similar questions, these books prompted Tyler and Jerusalem to wre…
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