Viewing The World Through The Eyes Of An Economist W/ Steven Landsburg

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“If you're doing something that is not making you want to get out of bed in the morning, I would encourage you to think really long and hard about whether you should be doing something else.”
— Steven Landsburg

Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today we are joined by Steven Landsburg. Steven is a professor of economics at the University of Rochester, and he's written a number of books including More Sex is Safer SexThe Armchair Economist, and, most recently, Can You Outsmart An Economist?.

You may be wondering about what economics has to do with SuperHuman Academy. Well, the reason I wanted to interview Dr. Landsburg is because of the way that he looks at the world. Economists as a whole see the world differently and are able to understand the reasons behind the things that the rest of us don't see, or think are completely random. You'll immediately see this in the examples that he gives. As it turns out, his latest book's subtitle is “100+ puzzles to train your brain”, and I think you'll understand why.

Through the course of the episode, we go deeper and deeper into the logic, rational thinking, and critical thinking that economics has trained Steven to be an expert in. On top of that, we also learn why even a basic study of these kinds of problems, helps him and anyone who studies this stuff better understand the world around them.

It's an absolutely fascinating episode, which I really enjoyed recording, and I know you will enjoy it too!

-Jonathan Levi

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • Who is Steven Landsburg, and what does he do? [4:00]
  • When did Steven's journey in economics start? [6:00]
  • What is an example from economics that applies to the real world? [7:15]
  • How has knowledge like this influenced Steven's life? [10:15]
  • Single decisions vs. groups of decisions [12:00]
  • Unconventional (but amazing) examples of viewing the world through the lens of economics [15:45]
  • A few more amazing examples of how economists (and Steven) see the world [22:00]
  • Can we learn how to think like an economist? [27:00]
  • Is there a process in identifying patterns and answers like an economist? [29:15]
  • Behind every behavior, weird or not, there is an incentive [31:15]
  • What it really means to be an economist? [35:30]
  • What are some of Steven's SuperHuman hacks? [36:00]
  • The importance of working on something that you love [37:30]
  • What are some books that have changed Steven's life? [40:00]
  • A rapid-fire question for Steven Landsburg [42:30]
  • Where can you find more about Steven Landsburg? [43:30]
  • Steven Landsburg's final takeaway message [44:30]

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Steven Landsburg:

“It's fun to think about the world. It's fun to think about things. It's fun to understand things better.”
“Recognize that sunk costs are sunk.”
“People respond to incentives.”
“I work on whatever seems like the most fun thing to work on that day.”
“I don't spend a lot of time doing things that I don't want to do.”
“If you really work hard at something, it becomes more fascinating the more you work on it.”
“Most people would be much better off if they just stopped to think for a minute before reacting to something.”



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