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“Don’t Neglect the Thing That Makes You Weird” | People I (Mostly) Admire: Ken Jennings

2020-10-03 | 🔗

It was only in his late twenties that America’s favorite brainiac began to seriously embrace his love of trivia. Now he holds the “Greatest of All Time” title on Jeopardy! Steve Levitt digs into how he trained for the show, what it means to have a "geographic memory," and why we lie to our children.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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either its given that you are about here, Steve Levin in conversation with all time jeopardy champion can Jennings it is my favorite episode yet of Levin New Podcast people I mostly admire. It, is also the last episode of people. I mostly admire that you will get here in the freak animates radio feet, so you should do with thousands of other people have already done go subscribe to people I mostly admire on any podcast at so that you get all future episodes leave. It is just getting started thanks somebody who think they haven't unremarkable memory or a kid who can't learn their timetables, they still no. Reward of every song on their favorite album and they know every player on the roster of their favourite team. The memory is working. Just fine when engaged
Like the people you see on jeopardy, can I dont have photographing memories? That's not a real thing, they're, just interested in like ten times the things you are and so more facts. Stick. So everybody knows: can jennings the amazing jeopardy champion. Seventy four separate wind. He won the greatest of all time tournaments. But for me, that's just the tip of the iceberg, welcomed people. I mostly admire with Steve Levin High once stumbled on with children's books, boats for nerdy twelve year anyway, possibly was interesting, and then I found he wrote books for adults and very knows, and I couldn't put them down now- he's got a is incredibly fastening and using it, I thought maybe you'd be one dimensional when I just knew about jeopardy, but the more I learned can Jennings the more
haste. I was at how interesting you was House Marty was how multi dimensional E. Was this? The guy I'd like to get to know this guy, I'd like to be free with ATO. Can it's really a pleasure to be here? we are talking today. Can Jennings the jeopardy greater about time, Besson Arthur, probably a mayor, because most beloved Briac. I can imagine that you could have scripted alike. That's turned out much better than the one that that you ve been able to live. It's a very unusual niche I have found- and I feel incredibly lucky to have landed in it. As far back as I can remember, I was a huge game, show nerd and I'm I never had a guidance counselor think that was a career at the time. I went on jeopardy for the first time I was twenty nine years old. I was kind of in the middle of a weird, mid life crisis, because I was in computers and I didn't like my job.
You know instead of buying a sports car, whatever most people do, I went on a game show and through a very weird set of circumstances that changed my life. I kind of suspected knew your job was being a computer program or will you kind of their tab it didn't seem like you have. A lot of the traits tat would make so many good computer program yeah. I was the generation that that you know that generation that had a pc at home and then you can get to do stuff in that you could solve little puzzles with it. I really did think oil all dissolve little puzzles on computers. My whole life and that'll be fine, and really like midway through college, I realized this is just stultifying. We boring to me. I don't have the my brain, for it I'm not good at it and in fact, I added a double major. I switched to an english major, just a kind of trying to get through college without losing my mind. Just have a few classes that I would enjoy simply what you ve done. Is you turned your hobby into an incredibly rewarding career hand, you
better at that in me. Well, my two Hobbes our data and golf and em and I've turn data into a career ass. She tried to turn golf nuclear to people who knows, but I, when I turned forty, my mid life crisis was but I will, if I wanted to be a professional golfer on the champions Gulf to her, and I what really really hard at it, and I really was the physical limitations, were are too great and I never got to be that good. You ve done much better in that regard than I did well. The thing they say about you can take all the joy out of something by STAR to do it. For your livelihood, it's true to some degree even now. I love. Writing. And I love podcast thing. You know it was such a treat when it was new, like my first book was so much fun to write and the first podcast for so much fun to record, and then it becomes homework like everything else, that it's got a deadline and you just have to keep doing it. It's the same fun thing, but for some reason your brain is like on now this again, it's a terrible thing. It sounds like it's time for other mid life crisis. Yeah. I'm really my crisis right now is just like not having kids who
you're good at anymore, if their aging and adolescents, and now I'm out of a job which is which is a real. That's a real second mid life crisis till you ve described in new books. While you were like as a kid and like you, I was a real sponge, for information in and actually my father encouraged it. My father used to pay me fifty dollars per volume of the encyclopedia that I would read and in right questions on so I probably made it two aided letters of the twenty six encyclopedia. when I was. Maybe I do know ten years old- and I know your youth was a variant on that as well. You were nothing but a sponge, yet there seems to be,
I don't think I knew this until I wrote brainy I can interviewed just dozens of people like this. There is such a type. The just seems to be like this from the womb that I I have become a firm believer that its chromosomes in some way there. There must be a trivia Jean, because these little boys and girls, fresh from the wind, will just clutched the Guinness Book of World records and l obsessed about baseball statistic. They will literally just hunger for information and they'll be omnivorous about it. You know we're gotta remembering stuff, but trivia people are unique in that they are just so interested in everything that everything sticks in their heads and, if but he's like this, it's very likely that they were like this when they were three or four hundred trivia elite, or the snobs? How do they react to you, because you're such a popular iser and often popular edges are derided by the sick of funds
in general. People have been very nice. You know like when you meet somebody from tv you're, nice like lightning, that's the it's the corrosive thing about being, but it's also the very some lubricating thing about became. I remember the college quiz more community. In particular, I remember a little bit of scepticism because, like they knew, I was not a great college quiz ball player. I was a general list and I was raised on jeopardy. Some idea of the trivia cannon is jeopardy. Lots of word play lots of a puzzle, elementary, no questions, you kind of figure out with a combination of intuition and induction incredible as much more about who can recognize the obscure academic fact. First and black that's one of the least interesting things about quiz games to me. So my aesthetic of trivia is kind of different from
a lot of those people, and when I was riding reading a lot of quiz questions, I would privileged kind of the puzzle solving jeopardy thing. You know the bring it together, fax from different fields, including lowbrow culture, and that doesn't go over big there. So there are some culture wars that you wouldn't care about. If you weren't a trivia, but which I sped fats that yeah I had the same thing in economics because I am obviously not the best economist in the world, but not even above average, rarely fora and academic economists in many ways. Yet it was puzzling to a lot of economists that my stuff was popular and it is typical led to one of three reactions to me when you probably get some the same ones, one react. It was kind of disgust and disdain. A second reaction was that they thought that. Well, if I can do this, then obviously they can do better.
Then me and everyone decided they want to write a book, because if we get a lever, can read a popular book, I'm talking about a popular book much better than his and did the third reaction was to say hey. This is great news since for economics him out there more economics, majors and since it limited supply of economics, professors in a bigger demand for services, myself is gonna, go up yeah, I can see analyze the all those you know. It's gonna subculture gets a little bit of a spotlight, its exciting, but then it's like the little band. You love going big and so there's downsides as well. Ok, let's talk about, jeopardy back in two thousand for you, head, you're, amazing, run and then earlier this year. You return for the greatest of all time tournament and that was against bread, rudder and James Halter and bread rudder. Has the record
for the most money ever won on jeopardy and James with this new hot shot with thirty two winds, and he holds that ten highest single day winning totalled of Alta. Again, you had to be the underdog in eternal, but yet you came back and want it. You beat those two and you put up numbers in the process that were better. anything you ve ever done before, and I've looked at the questions not turn him and they were hard there much harder than a typical jeopardy tournaments. So the only thing left to think that somehow, against all odds, who actually got way way better had jeopardy over the last fifteen years, which seems impossible, but is? Is that actually true? no, I don't think so. I mean I went on jeopardy shortly after college and I was really good. I still remembered all the french kings from ninth grade western Syn but you know decades go by where you're not in the classroom and the world keeps produced The new information and the brain is
no longer is as plastic or whatever as it was as you get in dear fortys, and there's just too much to know its em jeopardy really is a young person's game. You wanna be old enough that you kind of no the boomer, trivia, You still want to be young enough, that you know riccardi beers and it's a pretty narrow window being inside my brain and watching an aged fifteen years. I know that I'm getting worse jeopardy, like I actually tell them. I didn't want to play in this goat tournament, because I figured I was a little bit past I prime and wouldn't be at my dust. I think what you're seeing with those numbers I mean you're. Seeing luck for one thing like I: found daily doubles that I happen to know, and some of the other guys didn't buy daily doubles when they needed them, but I think you're also just seeing whoever's Mojo is I have walked into the right rhythm on those tape days, and that happened to be me, but you know the stats would vary widely if James is.
buzzer timing, was millisecond different that day and you would think. Ah, he knew more of those clues would share the questions you know of any given neither sixty one jeopardy questions and I know fifty something of them. I think and as you say, they got a little harder in the tournament because they want to be nothing but reflexes, determining that game. So it's a little different into championship gay but we all probably knew most of the same game material with some noise, but it's just a matter of who gets to buzz in first and that's true jeopardy. Every night, almost all the conditions are buzzing, almost all of the time what I am most surprised by is here to show this been on the air for forty years. Some smartest people are on it and James Hotel or comes long and if you believe the media reports. He completely revolutionise the game by having a different strategy, and it just doesn't sound write to me. Do you think that he revolutionise again,
Put another way: do you wish, when you had been on the showed that you had played like him so two things here, one is the jeopardy is unique in all the fields of human rights. You ve been or competition in that you're, seeing people play for the first time that they just walked into the studio that morning and they got to try the buzzer for
few minutes, and then they made a tv show, so it would be like if you watch the Olympics on NBC and everybody, you watched the high jumpers, the badminton players. They were all just basically trying it for the first time on National tv and a situation like that does lead players to just kind of do what they ve seen done to be risk averse to not want to try things out. That said, most of the things in James is arsenal, starting at the bottom of the board. Looking for daily doubles. Those are things that people have tried before and really the secret of James. The strategy is, if you try those things, and you are one of the top all time players its incredibly effective in general, people should be prone to bigger wagers on jeopardy. You should take more advantage of daily doubles than most people do because, historically, I think daily doubles or answered right, even by just an average player, something ripe. Seventy percent,
the time, and so I'm somebody who probably could have played a James Like game with with bigger wagers and it would have been a bigger check but honest, I think one of the reasons why I was on that show for six months is just because I played a low. Pack game and the lower the chances of big catastrophes like you're, saying but also psychologically. You know you never have to come back and play jeopardy. Knowing that you just lost, forty thousand dollars on a trivial question and for a professional gambler like games. He has the cool head for that and I dont think I will very well with having to play under those conditions, so there's something in one, you books, it really struck me, which is there's a sense of Knowing that you know something well before you actually can articulate what you know and that that is, I think, really the secret to being good on quiz ball or
jeopardy and it's an interesting phenomenon about the brain that never really heard discuss any. Where have you have he reflected at all? Do you have any any sense of the deeper meaning of that yeah you how to learn not to, as you say, not to buzz in when you have the answer, you have to buzz you in when you know you can buzz in with the answer. So it's a kind of met a knowledge about the brain and someone to these games are really methodology. It's not just producing the right answer. Its being able to think through is this answer to obvious. Is this answer to difficult? Does this fit the previous clues in the question? the chronology and geography and so forth universe. A lot of heuristics like that going on, but yes the sense that Another? Not everybody can do this, but to be aware of the existence of your factor, ability before you can actually produce it
is super important jeopardy, and I have no idea if it's important to other areas of life. I never got a good end. If a quarter back about this, I wonder if quarterbacks have the same song sense of they know what they need. Before they really know what is going to be in it. I them to react somehow more quickly, but most of life is not about speed, and so I don't think we practice that skill very often. I think these would in practice, whenever good at there's a big problem when rookies play jeopardy tight games, in that their extremely resistance to try to answer and you'd afterwards. You'll say time and you ll say oh, would know. Actually that was a stun and somebody will be like yeah yeah. I know it's Kazakhstan and their right. They did know it, but their extremely resistant to answering the question, and I am sure that goes back to just humans being batted gauging risk, but we're not good at knowing what we know till the mystic. On the topic of the brain to
you ve written that you have a geographic memory and I don't even know what that means. What you mean by that? I do not understand this about myself. Until I I wrote a book about my childhood love of maps and geography. I wrote a book called map had about people with we're geographic Courts and Hobbes, and one thing I found writing a book is that I see the world through a very geographic lens that many people do not share, but other people with where geography fixations do it comes into play in terms of men, Marie. I will find that I often can a file stuff away by place. If I learn something new about Ecuador, a halo of associations appears all related to Ecuador, not so much related to the narrative. I'm hearing about or the time period or the biographies of the people involved, it's all about the place of the volcanoes of Ecuador and the lamas. In fact, I've heard about the history and the equally. You know it's all very spatial, and even when I dream is often very special,
moving through a physical spaces, unaware of where I am on some kind of map. I know where north is in my dreams. I often returned to like imaginary areas of Seattle that have like certain kinds of restaurants that don't exist in real life but which I ve return to multiple times in my dreams, have a vague idea of where they are in relation to me on a city street map, and most people are, not like this, but it must be a quirk of how my spatial reasoning work had fastening until I was surprised that when you are having for jeopardy you in you, I've many were working with flashcards. I would think, and most we will probably think that you take saw the way you have must have a memory that so good that you don't need flashcards, because you just need to learn something once in you Remember fair it is that not true, I would say the general rule is if I learn something ones, and I find it interesting, I think it's more likely to stick but Yeah you got near universal, you know somebody who think they have it. Unremarkable memory or a kid who can't learn their timetables. They still. No,
reward of every song on their favorite album and they know every player on the roster of their favourite team. The memory is working just fine when engaged like the people, you see jeopardy than I don't photographing memories. That's not a real thing, they're, just interested in like ten times the things you are and so more facts stick, I guess, and caring for jeopardy. I realise there were some things that were to boring, even for me, like it's really important to know the years of presidential terms and, having kind of a spatial memory, I find that kind of chronological thing just really tedious and in thy jeopardy go to James and broader phenomenal at it, like you can tell them battles from, hundred years. War now dealt they'll know what decade is not because they memorize the urban just because they can kind of they think that way, and I dont so you know to memorize John Quincy Adams is eighteen. Twenty four election. I had to make up a little story about how well it
John Quincy, the nineteen seventy medical examiner working a twenty four hour, shift Quincy twenty four and then I could get there that way, but to me, that was way more interesting than a series of of weak politicians with their dates. Do you have advice and how people can improve their memory? the core of it is really. Your memory is good. Your memory works just fine. It's not it's not a broken hard drive. If you're not remembering stuff, it's because you don't care about it like you have not figured out how to up the takes of whatever it is, or frame the knowledge and a fun way. You haven't made it a story. You think classical music is boring, but Maybe if you read about the riot at the premier of servants, he's right a spring day, it would come to life now they
be people, and it would be a time and and yet you remember, that stuff something people mistakenly think they have a bad memory. They mistakenly think things are boring. It just has a quite been explained to them right side to stand of course, why you do jeopardy, but you compete on trivial generally, so princes were both in this thing called the the learning. Which is a trivial league? That's got sixteen thousand people and I wouldn't think for somebody like you, there's nothing but a downside to complete.
in trivia. Why? What makes you doing? That is absolutely true. That's very perceptive! This there is almost no upside for me to do stuff like this and and I'm kind of for that reason, I'm kind of trying to taper it off the thing about Learnedly. It's actually run by a friend of mine, and so I kind of deal like it would be disloyal to stop so this this friendship involved, but also like the learned league, is as honour system only. You have all day to think about the answer, and then you just type them into it. I what date and send them all. So it's its honour system only you could you could do, go all the answers in thirty seconds and and I always player,
hundred percent clean and so that the utility I providing. I guess, you'd, have to take my word for it, but the utility providers, like you, can see what top line jeopardy performance looks like I'm learning league and anybody slightly outgoing me is just a very country up where anybody who is vastly outgoing me is clearly chats. So it's a wagon exercise moral superiority. I can look at this guy who beat me that's by that I would Laszlo jeopardy for ten minutes. So it's interesting. You say that I wanted to ask you about. Cheating has all the stature public so out of the sixteen thousand, roughly sixty thousand people who, in the league you're percent correct, is a hundred sixtieth so you're in the ninety nine percent hell, but just barely oh, it's interesting is that there is also a component of learning,
but you cannot achieve where there's a championship among the elite of the elite in which you are monitored and can't cheap and you have finished in the top ten, the last two years and that that their other possible hypotheses, but then certainly does kind appointed idea that there's some cheating going on it's a year take honours were yeah. As you say, there are their explanations. Many people don't deal well. What the sure of having to play under the gun and I obviously thrive under that kind of pressure. I will often be watching myself on jeopardy on tv and I will not know an answer and then tv me will actually get it right which is a weird thing about the brain, but I think you're. I think mostly, that effect is explained by people cheating at it, so bizarre to me because they're cheating at a thing that not only has no prize but their cheating at an arena where the only fun thing about it is trying to think of the Ets. So you at your short circuited, the only source of fun in this game you are paying to play
in order to look up answers, and I guess it just speaks to the fact that the need to know an answer is, is so compulsive for many people it's just irresistible. They they just cannot help not knowing a thing- and I am sympathetic to that like. I know this amazing sigh of well being I get when I finally finnish across word or would have her to find No one answer: there was an bugging you it's incredibly satisfying, and so I guess not being able to control that and then to to rationalize it later and say all well. Yes, of course, of course I would have. I would have got that I would have got that. I'm not a cheater, but yes, I think it in any honor system, trivia that they need to know is so great that you will have a small amount of cheating and it's a bummer, so you would, No, but I have my own trivia rocks. I peaked, unfortunately, at the age of thirteen or fourteen, and I have not looked back. I've not thought about trivia
for something like almost forty years and then my high school bowl teammate was in law the, and he invited me in- and I really hesitantly said yes and I found that it immediately became an obsession and it really keeps me busy so now I can never be bored because there's always something to be learned, but the set part is that I have a lot of knowledge is buried so deep because its forty years old that when I see those questions, I am not exaggerating that I can think for forty five minutes about a question. Before I know the answer I know I know the answer is whose advocated- and it will take me forty five minutes and the sad produce, as do it that I actually will sit. There are forty five minutes that is not sad at all. I've been things. One is that we spend all our life putting things into our brain and they so seldom come in handy its incredibly validating to have something. The memories from your mind and actually pay.
Up in some real world, since that's really the essential appeal of course games as it makes you feel like something in your brain mattered. You mentioned that about always having something to doing something to learn. That is a great way to let its the best way to live, to be curious, like that, but I have recently found like, like I'm pretty well, I'm retired from jeopardy. I'm never going to go back and and on jeopardy. Again, I don't know how I can talk that and I'm not I'm not getting any better. I have the reverse experienced our its incredibly relieving to hear someone tell me story or read me tell me something in the news and the part of my brain that in the past would have been like you have got a file that away like. I now have this incredibly then feeling of hay. It actually does not matter. If I remember that story extravagance, never I want know that fact for me, thank goodness
You are listening to the new economic radio spin off people. I mostly admire with Steve Levin and his conversation with all time jeopardy champion can Jennings they return after the short break. Remember since the last episode of leverage show that you will get here in the economics. Radio feed so go subscribe right now to people I mostly admire on any podcast app. hello, hello, I'm to give our side, and I hope the pike aspect, the nation, where we talk about news which hung about politics and where We keep you informed while laughing through the pain, it's a weekly news, a casket stays on top of current events, but it doesn't leave you crying by the end of the episode. Every week I invite some my favorite Canadians on the show people, like John Hodgman, doubled from our very rapid, mainly due to Free Leonard John Love. It bear today thirst and you get the point. Look out for a new upload, a big pollution. Every Thursday, listen and subscribe to pick. The nation on sticker Apple
I cast my vote. I cast out. They are I'm Kristen I'm Caroline and we're back with brand new episodes of unladylike that show the finds out what happens when women break the rules. This season were breaking the rules around sexting Botox, even to working with you. Then you are working out. You are working shaken, wiggling, wildly Peter PAN and hopefully you are working, now girlfriend If, though, ladylike and working out the season, one of our unladylike Hall of Fame, he rose Samantha B really one arriving here today. As this ok, now in its awesome, ok, I did have a chocolate ever principle before us all. I got Walker Soup, Dear India, where dropping new episode every Tuesday dont,
a single one subscribed when lady like insidious apple pie, gas or wherever you get your part guy Ok, so let's talk about you books and I'm not saying this you are an amazing writer. I think I've had a look at every one of your books, except I'd never looked at then it funny you're, most recent one, and so this morning I thought we'd better a bit of at least a few pages. Before I go in interviews, I can talk about intelligent, and I was sitting around in my son was on the couch doing, videos- or whatever else does- and I was left things so loud that he's out there. What are you doing, and I said well I'm just reading this book and literally my son has not read a book in my presence in his entire life he sixteen years and I handed in the book- and he starts-
thing out loud and woke me. The book back there I gotta say of of all the compliments I could offer to somebody about the writing. That's roughly the greatest compliment. I think could be offered that you, you won over my son while you have a huge fan of of your I think as well, so that was already a great compliment. Butter, but now you ve been to thrown by your sixteen euro. So you ve written a book about the lives we tell our children and I should have something better to do. But I've said don't I. She went through all of the ideas in the book and I tell it up your judgment of whether the things that we tell our kids are true or false and Two thirds are false and one third are true, but that surprised, because, honestly, when I was growing up, I believed everything my mother said and then, when I got to be roughly college age a couple times, it occurred to me that maybe the things were true and I research what my mother said: Anne
and say this cause she's, probably listening, but literally my mother has not been right about food. I think maybe other people be surprised that only a third of the things we tell our kids are true, but I was shocked that anything we tell our kids are true unites the dataset as well, because the book kind of fact checks just old wives tales, but I've selected the things that kind of has surprising towards eminence a lot of the common sense things I tell my kids are like don't put fork in the toaster and that's a hundred percent paradigm Acta. I feel, like I'm pretty reliable dump of organ the toaster. It's just the things that we really, in that we heard from our parents that we have not fat checked and that we sometimes get wrong and and they're they're kind of surprising like although I related ones are not true, like you're hurt your eyes, if you wear your sisters, glasses you're hurt your eyes if you watch tv to close or two long years of Some of the hurting arises Bologna. Your Isobel try back My wife told her younger brother. their one time when you are camping, because she was
music. She did like she told him. that he had to turn it music down because it would attract mosquitos and she knew fully that she was lying him to defeat some reason, for him to turn down hysteria, and she told me that story, the amazing thing was not. You know a year ago, her fully grown Now, thirty five year old brother said completely seriously. Oh my god, have to turn the music down. We don't want the mosquitoes become invite us and I turn every book I broke out laughing, but it the power I think you learn when you when you're five years old- they they have a power to stick with you and to rule your life. If you don't have enough common sense to to
stand that authority figures are often lying toothed for their own private benefit? I don't know, that's just a result of how plastic the brain is when you were a kid or if it's just an example of primacy effect, where you know the first thing you hear about a topic tends to stick more than subsequent things, but that is absolutely true. I am that's why parenting stop with such a fertile fields for this kind of pop reference, debunking kind of a book, because I think we do just pass a law we must stop. We think is dangerous because we heard at once, apple seeds are dangerous, don't drop a coin off a balcony that can go right through somebody's head or on its it. Now there are easy to run numbers on this agenda and there is like pure: reviewed research on a lot of this too. I think like half a dozen different universities have done work on the five second rule. Just because you know it's a funding. and you know, you'll get publicity. I guess is our livestock, its research we know better than me, yeah. I think a lot of people don't have much to do research work.
is the idea that you could do something that somebody whenever care about is is alluring, even if the global import of it his he's not going to be great setting it's. It's astounding. There have been hundreds of studies trying to relate sugar intake or hyperactivity in children, and nobody can do it like there there should be no relationship at all between whether your kid us add sugar and how nuts they are, and no parent will believe. This, but it is apparently proved its academically and unprofitable You just happened to see your kids run around a lot at a place where they just had birthday cake, and you think you should a rush, but cigarettes is not real. an issues, a correlation risk causality. The hue brain is really not well equipped to separate those two and
your entire at the front of the line when it comes to confusing correlation and cause. I thought you have a series of books for become the junior genius guides for markets and dizzy just incredible books, because other lotta books written for kids, that our kind of interesting, but are you catch how to swim? but your books are first of all interesting, even two adults I like I, was just reading the one about the human body and it starts out talking about the elements in the body and how you know if you drown
the human body and sold it that they would go for a hundred and sixty bucks for the elements. But most of that was potassium everything us without wasn't worth my. You would think I was a twelve year. I was completely taken in by this book and what I found interesting it did. It didn't seem like a book written by an adult for kids, it actually seem like it was a book written by a kid. I have you somehow managed to stay a kid. You think that really the power of trivia. It's fun approachable side of knowledge. It's always like you know: how can I present this kind of death I fact about anatomy: you know: what's the analogy that makes this seem fun, you know. Is there a way to turn it into a story? Is there a way to compare it? Cannot change? Does the size scale? To make the metaphor more, I popping all these things that you think of to make it a trivial pursuit card for Here? That's exactly the kind of thing that makes the knowledge more likely to stick in the year of a listener and crucial to those works is the fact that you don't treat the kid like a kid I'm here
the kid like appear, and I would have always thought of it as me, an adult talking to another adult kids, don't like to be talk down too, but maybe you're right. Maybe it's me as a kid talking through a kid as a kid, so You are you have a very active mind, but I also get this and since you were a very he involved parent and spend a lot of time parenting, and the challenge of always found is that in order to parent I feel I have to quiet my mind after somehow focus on the kids instead of on the hundred the things that are raising through my mind, that are in competition with that, were you aboard parent or how did you reconcile? Who you are with parenting? yeah. I really feel a lot of myself and that I do have like a restless mind and kind of a compulsive blackened, and I guess we vote turned into this now in the age of the cell phone, but you're absolutely right that what the child really wants and needs is.
This unwavering attention and connection, and like the great for me personally, the great gift of jeopardy, was schedules flexible. I could work around my kids, I could see. I could see the more the way we in the West and who, in the U S, have conceived. Work is really the enemy of the good parenting, but that some pain and, like I have a lot of kids have six kids, so I've done my best to try to accommodate them, but I was just curious because I don't think I've been busy, I'm not a person who has done a tremendous MT of moment to moment, joy out of playing Ferris games with my children- and I thought- maybe but you might have some kind of secret. If, if you ve got six kids, you should be telling me the ceiling I mean you're playing the game on on the highest difficulty level. I mean in both cases I've been lucky in my kids were interested in thing. I was interested in, so we get kind of carve out what our thing was and we would both be. We engaged in building
lego or watching the show or going to the Science museum or whatever it was. So we can definitely find a lot of places where There was parity of attention. I have always thought that one of the most important parts of pay, Hunting was knowing maybe what your hopes and dreams are for the kids and that answer dictating. Out of the way that you raise themselves. What kind of hopes and dreams do you carry for your children? You know that's so tricky because it first, you think you are you cut it by default. Think they are your hopes and dreams at you. You kind of have to let go of that in just work. It back to basic principles. My cord, vice about raising children. Is you think you have control and they are absolutely who they are out of the box? If you didn't realize you with your first kid, you realize that if you have a second get because they will be raised
and almost exactly the same environment apart from the elder sibling, and they want a hundred percent be their own people because they just came out of the tap. That way. like you realize really what you have to do is just let them be themselves and incorporate that into the culture of the family, so that nobody feels like the outsider and so like what are the essentials of the culture of your family. You know your hopes and dreams. Your kids might be like that they can A sense of humor, no matter what happens or that they treat other people with respect by default or that they honestly say what their feeling instead of putting up a front. You know things like this might be better hopes and dreams. Then I hope my kid one day gets into Juilliard exactly so out in my my main hopes and dreams, my kids, I that there will be happy and that they'll be nice. Have you consciously thought about principles like that fear, kids, honour personnel? We actually try to talk about it. I tried to me
collaborative just over dinner or whatever. Like I'm lotteries, it has risen, Mormon religion and there is a real emphasis on suspending family. I'm together like carve out time on a week night and that's one of the Congress Since then, we have is like what do you guys think is central about this family? Were are the values that are most important, unlike how can we make sure we Are those that are really is always just variants on be happy, be nice, I mean that's any religion that doesn't do that. Fails you were raised Mormon and the new made will choices for yourself about how to bring spirituality, and I think so leopard this way. I think it incredibly difficult in the modern world to find one's way spiritually time wondered if you have advice for others on that topic. I give you thirty seconds. I can. I can not that up that I guess the core principle
all that I want my kids to take away, which is extremely hard and modernity is the idea that video, the amazing and explicative power of science has improved our lives in a big ways, but not very good at replacing the human need fur for meaning and end, and I guess, spirituality in a broad sense. One thing I've really found Is that just the sense of certainty from not just angry internet new atheists, but just the culture in general? The kind of certainty that this kind of stuff is it's nice, but its optional and we do have it all figured out, and it's all a bit silly to do anything like that
really rivals the worst kind of religious closed mindedness that I ever saw as a kid. It's exactly what I see from people online, just scoffing at any practice of religion, as if all the great thinkers who were trying to figure all this stuff out were dummies but spaghetti monster. Sixty nine I'm on red it, as this all figured out tat ever I want like anarchy, my kids for inviting, like I'm. Ok, if they don't want up believers, but I don't want them to have considered it unworthy of consideration. You know like I want them to put in the time and ask the questions and to realise that the questions are important because they appear to be optional, so your kids are growing up. We retire from jeopardy. Little word, you think you're goin. What's next few yea really isn't inflection point for me and, as I've said, not needing to be a dad that much anymore. Why you're doing you don't realize how much of your life is being a dad and kind of keeping the room
lively and being a bit of a cruise director and do not pay the fanatics takes of work I thought. Having that gone and jeopardy gone means, it means I get to work more on the things that I kind of been spread pretty thin. So I like to do everything a little bit so the book I'm late with, which is kind of a fun travel guide to the afterlife different versions of the afterlife from the thought- energy and and religion and tv and everything theme Park rides comic books that actually is finally getting finished. Now I've ever known a pocket my friend, John Roderick, called omnibus, twice a week that we really enjoy because it's fun to stretch a little and having this kind of spatial Marie that I do not a great at narrative, which is again not a good trade and a writer, but it's really exciting to try to work on something new get better at something, no matter how weight in your life, it is needed
baby being on the other side of the screen. You know people who retire as players, they're going to be coaches, they're, going to be GM's they're going to be both teams. I don't know if there's such a thing as a professional trivia coach, but hopefully I can do stuff like that from the other I do, though, and its much easier, and you have the answers in front of you. So it's a lot less stressful Some day will come when jeopardy needs a new host in. I think that there will be a unanimous vote for who that new, it should be, and there's gonna be you than having. Now that's very flattered. Thank you, but I get asked that a lot and it's very troubling for me mostly because it makes me you have to think about a version of jeopardy without affix trip back. and I'm not emotionally read, like he's so ingrained in the rhythms of the game. To me, having grown up on his voice, that really people consider him a part of their families. our house for half an hour every night, I can't imagine version of jeopardy that is Post Alex. So I'm trying not. I think everyone is
I last question, so you seem like a person who might offer good I saw how but I'm living a great life. The secret is not necessarily to follow your bliss, like I get annoyed. When I hear people who have succeeded in probably in a field, tell you to follow your dreams because of course, Channing Tatum thinks that you can Strip Inaccurate, a success because, like like the one in a hundred thousand person who did that- and it does not follow that- just because I was able to pay for a house on game show winnings that every jeopardy fan should quit their job and train for jeopardy. But I guess the route principle is sound, that, like the talents, you have the things you're good at our really say like those things, we really should treat as just a sacred essential part of you, and you should not do what I did and say, computers. Seems like a good way to make a living I'll get a Enginrie degree because it really neglected
at a very young age, a real source of joy for me like I, was really antithetical everything about myself. So you know if you love music, it doesn't mean you should drop out of college, and so you can have more time with your band, but it does mean that you should make sure me because part of your life, even with, if that's just singing with a community group or a church choir- or you know like make sure that the thing you're good ass is- is central to your life and they means. You pick a career that leaves you time at the end of the day too indulgent. Maybe you have a day. Job the passion and that's fantastic, but just don't neglect the thing about you that make you weird, because that was my mistake and jeopardy was built.
in the rescue their Stephen Dub, to hear future episodes of people. I mostly admire you need to go subscribe to it right now on any Pakistan and believe me, you will want to hear future episode because limit has been talking to some of the most interesting people in the world. Legally, people like Nathan, mere volt, whose put his astrophysics and economics Microsoft, training to use in trying to solve big global problems. So you're saying that the lack of new empirical data is impeding the ability theory to progress at the moment? I would say: that's hugely true. Now Einstein's nineteen, fifty in theory of general relativity is just an incredible tour de force because he figured it out without any great clue.
Now, unfortunately, we haven't had a scientist like that, since I and if you count new as the previous one, we may have we get them. Every five hundred you you'll also hear from Susan would just keep the ceo of Youtube and one of the earliest employees of Google, which happened because she had a garage tarento. Is it common for people in Menlo Park to render the garage? And now I step they now common. This was just me being creative, with trying to figure out how is gonna pay the mortgage, and it just so happened to be that it was a start up found me and it was Sergei and Larry. The founders of Google live. It also intervene, Greg Norman, successful entrepreneurs who, for a good stretch, was also the best golfer on the planet? I've done
A lot of players have actually reach the knob one spot in the wall and actually didn't want the limelight when I first one and nineteen seventy six hours in Intra, I couldn't get up in front of the microphone and speech. I said to myself: I want to be a great golfer. I have to change the way. I feel right now and cleverly Morgan, a former monk who founded peace in schools and organization, trying to introduce mindfulness into the curriculum. So you would. Two decided retreat. Did that changed? She changed me deeply. I mean I heard this poisons the same voice. There was creating the panic tax during intestine Highschool as the same voice. you're gonna say fail, you know what you're doing you shouldn't be here, but it was the first time I was being given a tool that allowed me to see. I'm not this voice. I'm not this now
along the way. You will learn a lot about Levitt himself, like his pension for strange experiments via embarked on us, government that went on for maybe three months right. I did not sleep more than three hours a night and in the end it was true that I was no more tired than I was in general, but I completely lost my will deliver. Always they really interesting thing to what you'll hear lever in conversation with economists and neuroscientist, now more than thirty years, I've had a conscious commitment in my life to just never line and then all of a sudden, some new piece of evidence finally comes in, like oh, my goodness it's over here, let it will speak with anyone famous or unknown if they ve got a truly interesting way of looking at the world. I ve him. We disagree with that approach to science. I dont think it
is in fact science. I had to call the U K publisher and ask for an additional budget. Solitude Jackson could travel with her pet snakes. People I mostly admire Steve Levitt. Is the latest show from that economics? Radio network? I hope You will go subscribe right now, thanks people, I mostly admire, is pretty good bye for economics, radio and structure. Matt Hickey is the producer, there are sound designer, is David Herman. Our staff also includes Allison Pray, glow, Gregg, Ribbon and Cornwallis. are in turn is immaterial. We had help on this episode from James Foster, all of music. You heard on the show was composed by Luis Gara to listen ad free subscribed to secure premium we can be reached.
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Transcript generated on 2020-10-09.