What is Pod Paper Scissors about?

Pod Paper Scissors considers the glitches in our society due to the hidden games in everyday human interactions. Each week, hosts Ben Klemens and Liz Landau discuss a different topic relating to social interaction including markets, politics, trends, and other core facets of our society, in a causal conversation format with original songs and interviews with knowledgeable guests.

Can you tell us more?

You may have read articles or heard other podcasts about behavioral science, which look at how people make decisions on an individual level. But when more than one person is involved, a totally different set of forces kick in. Economists describe this underlying framework as "games," and different games get played depending on the circumstances.

From the classic "prisoner's dilemma" to more obscure coördination games, Pod Paper Scissors takes game theory out of the dry textbook and into the real world. Fun and engaging conversations tackle situations in everyday life by breaking them apart in economic terms. Are there ways to shape our society to better deal with climate change? Should you try a restaurant that has no patrons in it at peak hours? Why do we care about fashion trends, anyway? These are just some of the questions, which speak to features tantamount to modern society, that Pod Paper Scissors will address.

Each episode will feature different kinds of games and situations. Experts in a variety of fields will casually converse with the hosts about how the particular game discussed applies to their work. Some episodes feature original music inspired by the topic at hand. The podcast is hosted by game theorist Ben Klemens and science journalist and composer Liz Landau.

Who are the hosts?

Ben Klemens

Ben Klemens has a Ph.D. from Caltech in Social Science—that is, the application of game theory to interpersonal relationships, political science, and economics. For a brief period circa 2003, his blog was the first Google hit for "overintellectualization". He is the winner of the 1987 Champaign Public Library Chess Tournament, K-6 division. His other résumé bullet points include Nonresident Fellow at Brookings, frequent work at the World Bank, and "big data" research on why people in the USA choose to move. Find out more at his personal page or Wikipedia.

Liz Landau

Liz Landau began her career in science and technology communication when her parents bought their first VCR and couldn't work out the manual. Since then, she has broadened her scope to the entire universe, making complex topics understandable to non-technical audiences. She specializes in writing, editing, and multimedia production explaining new research in space exploration, physics, mathematics, and archeology. She has given public talks about space and science communication both in the U.S. and Australia. In her music career, she has performed original and parody songs live to crowded and inquisitive geek audiences across the U.S. Find out more at her personal page or Wikipedia. Site design via RWT