Podcast / The Time of Monsters / Mar 18, 2024

Farewell to Freakonomics

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Marshall Steinbaum on economics as a toxic discipline.

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Farewell to Freakonomics | Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer
byThe Nation Magazine

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Marshall Steinbaum on economics as a toxic discipline.

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Steven D. Levitt, best known for cowriting the best-selling 2005 book Freakonomics, is retiring from the University of Chicago with a bang. On the Capitalism and Freedom podcast, Levitt gave a farewell interview where he detailed many internecine feuds in the discipline and examples of toxic abuse, with particular focus on his long-time colleague and nemesis James Heckman

The economist Marshall Steinbaum, a University of Chicago graduate who now teaches at the University of Utah, returns to The Time of Monsters to elucidate not just the Levitt/Heckman spat but also the question of why economics is a notoriously toxic discipline, how economics has changed over the decade,s rendering both Levitt and Heckman anachronistic, and the recent backlash against anti-racist politics in the discipline.

To supplement the article, listeners can read: Noah Scheiber’s 2007 article on the intellectual origins of Freakonomics, Marshall Steinbaum’s  2020 post about racism in the University of Chicago economic department, and a recent Bloomberg story on racism and sexism in economics.

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Here's where to find podcasts from The Nation. Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the news, from a progressive perspective.

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Jeet Heer

Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation and host of the weekly Nation podcast, The Time of Monsters. He also pens the monthly column “Morbid Symptoms.” The author of In Love with Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman (2013) and Sweet Lechery: Reviews, Essays and Profiles (2014), Heer has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Prospect, The GuardianThe New Republic, and The Boston Globe.

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