Fri, 26 January 2018
My guest for this episode is Scott Cunningham of Baylor University. We discuss his work on the decriminalization of indoor sex work and on the impact of Craigslist's erotic services page on violence against women.
The working paper on Craigslist generated a lot of media attention, with articles at Huffington Post and ThinkProgress. The most quoted statistic is that "Craigslist erotic services reduced the female homicide rate by 17.4 percent." We discuss this statistic, its possible causes, and whether or not it is implausibly large.
Scott mentions John Snow, the scientist who first discovered that cholera was spread by contaminated water sources. Here's the first video in a series on him.
Thu, 18 January 2018
My guest today is Lyman Stone. He is an agriculture economist for the USDA, but our topic for this episode is his popular writing about migration. He blogs at In a State of Migration on Medium and co-hosts the podcast Migration Nation.
We discuss the history of migration restrictions in the United States, the economic impact of migration between and within nations, and the relationship between falling fertility and immigration.
"Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?" by Michael A. Clemens (2011)
"Does Mass Immigration Destroy Institutions? 1990s Israel as a Natural Experiment" by Benjamin Powell, J.R. Clark, and Alex Nowrasteh (2017)
Fri, 12 January 2018
This episode of the podcast features two guests, Zach and Kelly Weinersmith. Zach is the author of SMBC Comics, a popular webcomic that sometimes deals with advanced concepts in science, philosophy, economics, and other fields. Kelly is a professor in the Biosciences department of Rice University. Together they co-authored Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything.
To quote the book's description,
In this smart and funny book, celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of what's coming next--from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters. By weaving their own research, interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, and Zach's trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.
In this fun and lively conversation, we discuss some of the technologies discussed in the book: space elevators, asteroid mining, augmented reality, and programmable matter. We also discuss the tragic life of Gerald Bull, Canadian space cannon enthusiast.
Fri, 5 January 2018
My guest on this episode is Shruti Rajagopalan of the State University of New York's Purchase College.
We discuss Shruti's work on constitutional political economy as it relates to India. We start by talking about the Indian constitution. India got its independence in 1947 and ratified a constitution shortly after in 1949. Interestingly, it is the most amended constitution in the world. Shruti argues "that the formal institutions of socialist planning were fundamentally incompatible with the constraints imposed by the Indian Constitution."
We go on to discuss Shruti's work on the Bhopal gas tragedy, which demonstrates some of the failings of India's institutions. The Bhopal gas tragedy was a man-made disaster in 1984 where mishandling of dangerous chemicals by the company Union Carbide resulted in thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of non-fatal injuries among the public. The Indian government mismanaged the legal cases against Union Carbide, resulting in no payout to the people affected by the disaster.