Episode 299

Steps in the Right Direction

A Conversation with Russ Roberts

October 3, 2022

Only the first 40 minutes of this episode are available on the paywalled podcast version (the BLACK podcast logo). If you’d like to hear the full 2 hours and 3 minutes of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast, you’ll need to SUBSCRIBE here. If you’re already subscribed and on the private RSS feed, the podcast logo should appear RED.

Sam Harris speaks with Russ Roberts about decision-making and the nature of moral progress. They discuss the shortcomings of economics as a science, the power of books, the difference between "wild" and "tame" problems, Darwin’s embarrassing thoughts about the value of marriage, the utility of decision of analysis, incommensurate goods, free riding, counterfactuals, how the decisions we make change us, the difficulty of predicting future experience, changing moral norms, Effective Altruism, free speech, whether we are making moral progress, social media, truth vs comfort, problems with consequentialism, rule-based consequentialism, free will, meditation, and other topics.

Russ Roberts is president of Shalem College in Jerusalem and the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is the host of EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious and the co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap videos. He started EconTalk in 2006—past guests include Christopher Hitchens, Angela Duckworth, Milton Friedman, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Piketty, Emily Oster, and Michael Lewis. His books include How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness, and his latest—Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us.

Website: russroberts.info

Twitter: @econtalker


Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make in life. That’s why Sam Harris created the Waking Up app. From rational mindfulness practice to lessons on some of life’s most important topics, join Sam as he demystifies the practice of meditation and explores the theory behind it.

If the Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.