Subtitles and transcripts of podcasts

Subtitles and transcripts are available for some podcasts linked to this blog, for example for all videos on Under the video, select Subtitles available in, and to the right of the video, select Open interactive transcript.
For Russian readers / Для русскоязычных читателей: Для некоторых подкастов, описанных в блоге, например, для подкастов на сайте, есть субтитры и записи текстов. Под видео выберите Subtitles available in Russian, а справа от видео выберите Open interactive transcript.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Don Thompson on prediction markets in political elections and business decisions

"Dewey Defeats Truman", a famously inaccurate headline, Chicago Tribune,1948, from
Who will win the election? Prediction markets are more accurate than the polls for prediction of the election results, according to Donald N. Thompson, an economist and professor of marketing, emeritus, at York University in Toronto, interviewed in this podcast: Let Your Employees Bet on the Company - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review (audio, 14 min).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dan Ariely: The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone - Especially Ourselves

In The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone - Especially Ourselves, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University Dan Ariely describes the recent studies on psychology and economics of cheating. The experiments are so cool, and the book is so well-written, that I literally could not put it down. The research offers practical methods to decrease cheating. The new theory proposed by Ariely contradicts the currently prevalent rational model of crime, based on cost-benefit analysis, which is used to set our current policy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ben Goldacre: Battling bad science

Ben Goldacre: Battling bad science | Video on (video, 14 min)
British doctor, blogger and the author of the book Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks Ben Goldacre describes one of the most serious problems in medicine today: a flood of bad science. This ranges from false health and dietary claims coming from the self-proclaimed "experts" to withholding of evidence by pharma companies. Goldacre gives a few examples of bad science, in the order from easiest to hardest to spot:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roy F. Baumeister: Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Building Self-Control  (audio, 14 min)
In this short podcast, Roy Baumeister, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and co-author (with John Tierney) of the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, summarizes the often surprising results of recent research on willpower (also known as self-control or self-regulation).
  • Willpower is similar to muscle strength, in that it is a limited resource, it is renewable, and it can be strengthened.
  • Willpower is a limited resource. At any given moment in time, you have only so much of self-control, and you can deplete it (a phenomenon known as ego depletion). We have the same amount of willpower, which we use up for a variety of tasks, such as resisting the temptation to overeat, being patient and polite under stress, and even making decisions. Laboratory studies have shown that when subjects are given various self-control tests throughout the day, regardless of the order of the tasks, they tend to perform worse on the later tasks. Self-control can be measured in the lab using a variety of standard tests, for example the ability to resist cookies while hungry, or the ability to keep the hand immersed in very cold water.
  • Willpower is a renewable resource. Some of the ways to renew it is by eating or sleeping. After a meal or a good night sleep, people are better capable of self-control. Studies have shown that most diets are broken in the evening, not in the morning.
  • Willpower can be strengthened over time by exercising it. One surprising method of developing willpower is to follow arbitrary rules. In one of the studies, subjects were told to work on their posture (sit up straight, stand up straight) for two weeks. After that, their self-control improved on measures that had nothing to do with posture.
A few other interesting findings I learned from the book:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tom Mueller: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

Extra Virginity: The Splendid Table podcast (audio, only the first 10 min part of this podcast episode).
Journalist, blogger and the author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil Tom Mueller explains why many olive oils labeled as "extra virgin, first cold pressed, made in Italy" are in fact not virgin, most certainly not pressed, and not Italian. The good news is that great extra virgin olive oil is commonly available and often not expensive. Find out how to find it on this great podcast.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Omar Ahmad: Political change with pen and paper

Omar Ahmad (photo from
Omar Ahmad: Political change with pen and paper | Video on (video, 6 min)
In the world where political change is often brought about by novel methods (as in the latest blackout and other online protests against SOPA and PIPA) it is useful to revisit the trusted old methods that work. Check out this inspiring short podcast by Omar Ahmad, the late entrepreneur and the mayor of the City of San Carlos. (I have previously shared it with some of my readers.)
Ahmad suggests that the best way to engage politicians is by writing them a letter by hand. Hand-written letters are more effective than emails or phone calls.
Ahmad suggests a four-paragraph format for writing an effective letter:
  1. Show your appreciation for the politician, or at least for the tough job politicians have to do.
  2. Say what is really on your mind. Never attack the person - if you have to attack, attack the tactic.
  3. Show them an exit strategy: "If you had the right information, you would have done the right thing".
  4. Offer the politician help, for example, offer to provide clear information on the issue in the future.
A few additional useful points:
  • Write about your pet issue often - at least once a month.
  • Sign the letter showing any influence in a large sphere you may have (mention if you are a manager, a volunteer, etc). 
  • When writing to the US Congressmen and Senators, mail the original letter to the district office. Mail a copy to the main office. This increases the chances that your letter will be read.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stand-up desk

Stand-up desks are growing in popularity for a variety of reasons, such as helping back pain (mostly anecdotal evidence) or reducing sedentary time to burn extra calories (1/3 more calories per minute burnt compared to sitting desks). The benefits and risks of standing desks have not been explored rigorously, although on a related note it is well established that sedentary lifestyle leads to health problems, and that even little movements throughout the day help. In light of this, I would like to share with you a helpful insight I received from a reader of this blog. I thank the reader for kindly allowing me to post it here.  (The abbreviation "40$SD" below refers to the The $40 Standup Desk.) 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Marshall Goldsmith: Keep Your Ideas to Yourself

Keep Your Ideas to Yourself - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review  (audio, 9 min)
"Zip it!" (A scene from "Austin Powers", photo from
In this short podcast, management expert, executive coach, bestselling author and blogger Marshall Goldsmith follows up on an earlier HBR blog post on the same topic.
Consider a case when someone comes to the boss with an idea. The boss likes the idea, but instead of simply saying, "Great idea!", the boss says, "That's a nice idea, but why don't you add this to it?" The quality of the idea may go up by 5%, but the person's commitment to its execution has just come down by 50%. It's no longer the employee's idea, it's the boss's idea.
Similar situations occur between team members at work, between spouses, and between parents and children. According to Goldsmith, we should be mindful about adding "too much value". Before making suggestions, ask yourself, "Is it worth it?"
In some cases, accepting things as they are is not only a Zen method, it's also an efficient way to get things done.