Russian Literature Professor Kevin McKenna of the University of Vermont talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life and times of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is the opening episode of the EconTalk Book Club for Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition. A subsequent episode to air in the next few weeks discusses the book itself.
Economist and author Emily Oster of Brown University talks about her book Cribsheet with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Oster explores what the data and evidence can tell us about parenting in areas such as breastfeeding, sleep habits, discipline, vaccination, and food allergies. Oster often finds that commonly held views on some of these topics are not well supported by the evidence while on others, the evidence appears decisive. Oster thoughtfully explores the challenges of using empirical work and balances our sometimes ignorance with common sense.
Journalist and author David Epstein talks about his book Range with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Epstein explores the costs of specialization and the value of breadth in helping to create mastery in our careers and in life. What are the best backgrounds for solving problems? Can mastery be achieved without specialization at a young age? What experiences and knowledge best prepare people to cope with unexpected situations? This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of chess, the Challenger tragedy, sports, farming in obscure Soviet provinces after the revolution, the Flynn effect and why firefighters sometimes fail to outrun forest fires.
Law professor and author Robin Feldman of UC Hastings College of the Law talks about her book Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman argues that the legal and regulatory environment for drug companies encourages those companies to seek drugs that extend their monopoly through the patent system often with insufficient benefit for consumers. The prices for those drugs are then protected from new competition. She also argues that the pharmacy benefit management system allows drug companies to exploit consumers. The conversation concludes with a discussion of what can be done to improve the situation.