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A Year in Conversation

"The only way it is possible to be good in this world is if you can be good without knowing the consequences. It has to be random or there’s no goodness." 
—Rabbi David Wolpe

"One thing I’ve always tried to define myself by — and sometimes it’s been more successful than other times — is opposition to complacency and not being satisfied with any institution, with myself, or with anybody, and always thinking things could be better."
—Larry Summers

"Everybody is dying to know whether I got into university because of reservations. My answer to them is, 'Go ahead and die.'"
—Sujatha Gilda

"I don’t trust anybody at a company if the mean age is over 35 anymore. I think that they’re out of touch. I think they’re replaying old themes. I think the Michelin guide is about status, reification of a belief system in a particular food and culture system that was based on the aristocracy."
—Mark Miller

"We're frequently talking about a Manhattan project for this or a moonshot for that. We're eager to talk about the things that we do as governments or corporations when the gains are to safety, efficiency, comfort."
—Tyler Cowen discussing his book, The Complacent Class, with Katherine Mangu-Ward

"The last half century has been an ongoing anti rent-seeking campaign and the dissipation of those rents especially by less skilled white men has been a cause of a great deal of angst and frustration and political acting out in recent years."
—Brink Lindsey with Steve Teles

 "I don’t have a lot of hesitation or self-censoring when it comes to asking questions. I’m just balls out with my curiosity."
—Mary Roach

"This is a question that economists raised after World War II, as well. A great trade economist such as Jacob Viner saying, “Can we really integrate the Communists and the non-Communist worlds in a trading system?” Turns out the answer was no."
—Doug Irwin

“To encourage experimentation and open opportunities, one must also be much more tolerant of mediocrity. The notion that there can be something lovely in mediocrity is, to borrow one of your favorite phrases and now mine, is under-theorized.”
—Malcolm Gladwell

"I’m just telling stories [on Twitter] about how ridiculous it is that my six-year-old just lost a shoe in the Capitol, and we’re down a shoe today. And it’s going to be rough to get through the whole day with that half an inch difference between the bottom of your foot and the other shoe when you’re only this tall. It’s going to cause some disruption."
—Ben Sasse

“The Nassim Taleb case — that free trade gives you too much monoculture — I take it seriously at an intellectual level. But the amount by which you would need to cut off trade to really create separately existing independent parts of the world that would give us greater protection against existential risk, it seems you would literally need to go back to 1500 to do that. And that’s not feasible; it wouldn’t be desirable.”
—Tyler Cowen discussing free trade with Patrick Collison

"It's not that women don’t win when they run [for office] — they have a hard time raising money — but it has to do with a kind of reticence of the cost, often not only to one’s self but to one’s family, that women assess differently. And I wonder how chilling the discourse around social media has been for women who are considering."
—Jill Lepore

“Our best hypothesis is that, what’s going on is that the teacher is not teaching you skills that end up showing up on later tests…Rather, it’s that they are teaching you things like discipline and social skills and other things that are valued in the labor market directly.”
—Raj Chetty

"Well, writing always scares me and intimidates me. I’ve always felt that, and if I ever stopped feeling that, I probably shouldn’t write anymore."
—Jhumpa Lahiri

“I think in 2002, if somebody had told you that gay marriage would be legal, that marijuana, recreationally, would be legal in x number of states, and that you'd have a black president asking something I didn't agree with, for transgender bathroom rights in an election year, that you would have probably scoffed at any such change being possible.”
—Ed Luce

"That ability we have to commit ourselves to something larger than ourselves over a long period of time, not knowing whether it will turn out the way you think it will—that is, I think, the most incredible thing that human beings do.” 
—Atul Gawande

“This is a cycle. The only difference with what we have been seeing throughout human history is that now, machines are coming after people with college degrees, political influence, and Twitter accounts.”
—Gary Kasparov

“I think there's going to be a significant generational change in the British Conservative Party. It's going to become much more of a traditional Conservative Party than it has been for quite a long time.”
—Steve Davies

“I don’t fear the government coming for my free speech at the moment. I simply don’t. What I fear is the chill factor, that we’re doing it to ourselves. Every day, we’re slowly putting out less information… I literally get emails from people that are going through divorces over politics now. And even just think about that in your own life.”
—Dave Rubin

"As soon as you start to be pretty confident that anything you write is great, then you’re going to suck in any creative field, I think.” 
—Dave Barry

See all Conversations

And we’re not done yet! 
Don’t miss the final conversation of the year with Andy Weir, releasing on December 20th.

The Highlights

"Well, writing always scares me and intimidates me. I’ve always felt that, and if I ever stopped feeling that, I probably shouldn’t write anymore."
—Jhumpa Lahiri

"I’m just telling stories [on Twitter] about how ridiculous it is that my six-year-old just lost a shoe in the Capitol, and we’re down a shoe today. And it’s going to be rough to get through the whole day with that half an inch difference between the bottom of your foot and the other shoe when you’re only this tall. It’s going to cause some disruption."
—Ben Sasse

 "I don’t have a lot of hesitation or self-censoring when it comes to asking questions. I’m just balls out with my curiosity."
—Mary Roach

“To encourage experimentation and open opportunities, one must also be much more tolerant of mediocrity. The notion that there can be something lovely in mediocrity is, to borrow one of your favorite phrases and now mine, is under-theorized.”
—Malcolm Gladwell

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