Published August 2022 on YouTube

Russ Roberts — The Decisions that Define Us

1. Start

Russ Roberts discusses the challenges of using rationality when facing big life decisions, offering insights on how to approach these choices with a rational mindset.+

2. Choosing Fatherhood

Russ Roberts reflects on his father's decision to prioritize being a father and the importance of quality time and paying attention in parenting and life.+

3. Quality Time and Quantity Time

Russ and Tim discuss the importance of both quality and quantity time in relationships, emphasizing that true quality time requires spending a significant amount of time together. They explore the idea that simply being physically present is not enough, and that cultivating deep connections takes time and effort.+

4. What does Shalem mean?

Russ Roberts discusses the meaning behind the name "Shalem" and how it reflects the aspirations of Shalem College in Jerusalem. The name, derived from the Hebrew word for peace, represents the desire for students to become more complete individuals through their educational experience. It goes beyond preparing for a career and focuses on cultivating habits of mind and heart that make them full human beings.+

5. What’s wrong with scientism?

FA Hayek's Impact:Russ Roberts discusses the impact of FA Hayek's ideas and the success of his rap videos in introducing him to a wider audience. They delve into the concept of the pretense of knowledge and why it is a significant piece of Hayek's work.+
The Challenge of Scientism:Explore the dangers of scientism and the misconception of understanding through evidence-based data science. Russ Roberts delves into the intellectual battle between Hayek and Keynes, highlighting the importance of acknowledging the things we don't know and the things we mistakenly believe to be true.+
The Limits of Predictability:Russ discusses the limitations of using data to predict outcomes, using the analogy of a football game. He emphasizes the difficulty in predicting economic trends and warns against the authority of experts who may mislead using scientific tools.+

6. The Curious Task

Russ Roberts explains the profound meaning behind Friedrich Hayek's quote about the curious task of economics, warning against the dangers of designing without understanding the unintended consequences.+

7. What is a Hayekian?

Russ and Tim discuss the concept of emergence and how many aspects of our lives, such as noise levels in restaurants and traffic patterns, are not designed but rather emerge from the choices we make as individuals. They explore the idea that sometimes we are quick to blame others for certain situations when in reality, we are responsible for them ourselves.+

8. Decisions That Define

Explore the deeper reasons behind life-altering decisions like having children and getting married, and how they go beyond simple cost-benefit analysis. Discover the overarching senses of purpose and meaning that shape our lives and make these decisions more than just about fun and happiness.+

9. Embracing Uncertainty

Russ Roberts discusses the limitations of relying solely on data and the temptation to use technology for all aspects of life, emphasizing the importance of embracing uncertainty and making personal decisions without relying on apps or algorithms.+

10. Darwin's Marriage Dilemma

Charles Darwin's Marriage Dilemma:Explore Charles Darwin's fascinating decision-making process when considering marriage, as revealed through his pro-con list. Discover the surprising insights into his concerns and reservations about starting a family, despite his potential as one of the greatest scientists of all time.+
Making Life Decisions:Explore the challenges of making life decisions and the limitations of a rational framework in decision making. Gain insights on how to organize your thinking and consider alternative approaches to decision making.+
Maximizing Partner Selection:Russ Roberts discusses a mathematical problem that can help maximize the odds of finding the best partner. Using the example of Penelope from The Odyssey, he explains how selecting the first person who is better than the best of the first 37 suitors can lead to a 37% chance of finding the best partner. However, he also highlights the limitations of this strategy and the complexities of choosing the right person.+
Choosing the Right Partner:Russ Roberts discusses the flawed concept of finding the "best" partner and offers insights on how to choose the right person to marry based on respect, compatibility, and chemistry.+

11. Love's Emotional Landscape

The Feeling of Love:Russ and Tim discuss the emotional landscape of long-lasting marriages, highlighting the holistic feedback and sense of identity that comes with being with a life partner.+
Unpacking What You Really Want:Russ and Tim delve into the concept of decision-making, exploring the idea of what we truly want beyond rationality and the dangers of following our gut instincts. They discuss the importance of being thoughtful in decision-making and the balance between using science and intuition.+
Rethinking Marriage:Explore the concept of finding happiness in one person and the expectations we place on romantic relationships. Russ discusses the historical and pragmatic aspects of marriage, while highlighting the role of love and attraction. He also delves into the importance of treating your partner as a true partner and the changing dynamics of marriage in modern society.+

12. Marriage as a form of growing up.

The Challenges of Marriage:Russ and Tim discuss the difficulties and rewards of marriage, emphasizing the importance of commitment and working together to create a fulfilling partnership. They explore the concept of marriage as a covenant rather than a contract, highlighting the need to prioritize the desires and preferences of both partners. While acknowledging the potential hardships, they also recognize the deep satisfaction that comes from successfully navigating the complexities of married life.+
Growing Up Together:Russ and Tim discuss the concept of growing up and how marriage is one way to achieve self-awareness and a broader perspective on life. They explore the idea that maturity is an ongoing process and that there are multiple paths to personal growth.+

13. Life lessons from Bill Belichick.

Life Lessons & Drafting Strategies:Russ Roberts shares intriguing insights on life lessons from Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, and his unique drafting strategy. Discover how trade-offs and increasing the denominator can apply not only to football but also to life and investing.+
Investing Insights:Russ shares insights on the benefits of index funds and the unpredictable nature of picking successful investments. He also discusses the high failure rate in venture capital and the importance of trying different strategies.+

14. A Life-Changing Move

Moving to Israel:Russ explains his decision to move to Israel after receiving a job offer to lead a college with a unique curriculum focused on Greek philosophy, Jewish thought, and more. He discusses his interest in questions of a well-lived life and the impact he hopes to make through education.+
Making a Big Move:Russ shares the story of how he pitched the idea of moving to the Middle East to his wife during the middle of COVID. They discuss the challenges, purpose, and opportunities that come with such a big decision, highlighting the importance of following their calling and embracing new experiences.+

15. Contributions and Jewish Experience

Contributions and Jewish Experience:Tim and Russ discuss the motivations behind contributing to Israel and the unique experience of living in Jerusalem. Russ shares his pride in being part of the Jewish state and the significance of daily life in Israel. Tim also shares his own experience in Israel, attending a training funded by the Ministry of Health.+
The Intensity of Jerusalem:Tim and Russ discuss their experiences in Jerusalem, highlighting the palpable tension and attention in the air, the historical significance of the city, and the feeling of everything being consequential.+

16. Overcoming Decision Fatigue

Overcoming Decision Fatigue:Tim Ferriss and Russ Roberts discuss the growing apathy among audiences and the role of decision fatigue in contributing to it. They explore the advantages of religion in providing structure and automaticity to life, even for those who are not religious. Russ shares his personal experience with COVID-19 and how it relates to decision fatigue.+
The Longing for Normalcy:Russ reflects on the emotional toll of living through a prolonged crisis like COVID, comparing it to the uncertainty and fear experienced during times of war. He discusses the desire for a return to normalcy, the missed life events, and the reminder of mortality that the pandemic brought.+
Exploring Religious Life:Russ discusses the allure of religion, acknowledging the doubts that many religious people face in the modern era. He emphasizes that religious life adds a unique texture to one's existence, going beyond mere happiness or fun. It is a personal experience that may not be accessible to everyone, much like music.+

17. Lessons from Nassim

Learning from Nassim:Russ Roberts discusses the valuable lessons he has learned from Nassim Talib's writing, particularly his book "Fooled by Randomness." Roberts explains how Talib's insights helped him gain a deeper understanding of statistics and how to pay attention to important details in the real world.+
Building Higher, Investing Smarter:Russ and Tim discuss the importance of not relying solely on past experiences when making decisions, whether it's building a house near a river or investing in the stock market. They emphasize the need to consider future possibilities and the potential for unexpected outcomes.+
Skin in the Game:Discover the importance of having "skin in the game" and how it encourages prudent risk taking. Economist Russ Roberts and author Nassim Nicholas Talib dive into the concept and its impact on decision-making, highlighting the consequences of bailing out losers. Gain insights into the role skin in the game plays in weeding out imprudent risk takers and its relevance in various industries.+

18. Lessons from the Talmud

Lessons from the Talmud:Tim Ferriss and Russ Roberts discuss the connection between the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the teachings of the Talmud. They explore the idea of not being free to desist from important work and the burden or blessing of having a sense of obligation.+
The Power of Selective Reading:Russ and Tim discuss the importance of choosing books carefully, as there are only a limited number of books we can read in a lifetime. They explore the idea of purpose in life and how activities like watching a baseball game may distract us from our goals.+
Finding Balance:Russ explores the struggle of justifying leisure activities and the importance of finding balance in life. He discusses the value of downtime and the need to avoid stagnation, while also acknowledging the societal pressure to constantly be productive.+

19. Exploring Prayer

Exploring Prayer:Russ Roberts shares his personal journey with prayer, discussing how it can be meaningful for both religious and non-religious individuals. He highlights the transcendent experiences that can be found outside of traditional religious practices.+
Transcendence and Connection:Russ discusses moments of transcendence and connection, whether it's gazing at the stars, encountering someone in distress, or witnessing a powerful performance. These experiences remind us of something greater than ourselves, whether religious or spiritual, and the desire to access them more frequently through prayer or reflection.+

20. Tips for staying humble.

Stepping Outside Yourself:Russ Roberts asks Tim how he manages to stay grounded and maintain his sanity despite his immense success and impact on the world. Tim shares insights on staying humble and connected to reality, offering valuable lessons for anyone striving for success.+
Overcoming Perfectionism:Tim Ferriss discusses his struggles with perfectionism and the impact it has on his work. He shares the importance of embracing mistakes and failures, and how he strives to provide a balanced perspective through his podcast.+
Gaining Humility:Tim and Russ discuss how being podcast hosts has humbled them and forced them to recognize their own limitations. They reflect on the importance of being open-minded and empathetic, and how interviewing exceptional individuals has made them realize how little they know. The conversation highlights the value of continuous learning and the excitement that comes with recognizing how much there is still to learn.+

21. Parting thoughts.

Tim and Russ discuss the indescribable feeling of transcendent experiences and encourage listeners to explore the Negev Desert for themselves. They also express appreciation for each other's work and recommend checking out Econ Talk for nuanced conversations.+