Reason Podcast



Founded in 1968, Reason is the planet's leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Hosted by Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, and other Reason journalists, our podcast explores "free minds and free markets." It features provocative, in-depth interviews with authors, comedians, filmmakers, musicians, economists, scientists, business leaders, and elected officials. Keep up to date on the latest happenings in our increasingly libertarian world from a point of view you won't get from legacy media and boring old left-right, liberal-conservative publications. You can also find video versions at


494 ratings


How Psychedelics Changed the Life of One of America's Leading Novelists

Psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs are enjoying a revival—as agents of personal pleasure, mind expansion, and conventional medicine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently designated psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, as a "breakthrough therapy" for treatment of depression. MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, has been similarly designated as a breakthrough therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. Earlier this year, two major books about psychedelics came out. Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence is a relatively conventional history and memoir that drew praise from Reason's Jacob Sullum for recovering the history of "psychedelics' potential for facilitating psychotherapy, promoting the rehabilitation of addicts, and relieving end-of-life anxiety" before Timothy Leary and others promoted such drugs as the stuff of total political and cultural revolution. "Psychedelics have been politicized, medicalized, and spiritualized," asks Sullum in his review. "Will they ever be personalized?" Which brings us to that second book, Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change, written by acclaimed novelist Tao Lin. Born in 1983 to immigrants from Taiwan and raised in Florida, Lin is a critical darling of the contemporary literary scene (Bret Easton Ellis has declared him to be "the most interesting prose stylist of his generation"). His books Taipei, Richard Yates, Shoplifting from American Apparel, and others are populated by disaffected young people who take copious amounts of drugs, especially downers such as Xanax and prescription opioids. Trip is an excruciatingly personal non-fiction account of the author's use of psychedelics as part of a "sustained, conscious not drift toward meaninglessness, depression, disempowering forms of resignation, and bleak ideologies like existentialism." "Weird is the compass setting," writes Lin at one point, quoting Terence McKenna (1946-2000), who helped popularize magic mushrooms and inspire rave culture. Trip is certainly weird, but like the most-potent drugs, also wonderful. Interview by Nick Gillespie.


Adam Conover of <em>Adam Ruins Everything</em> on Seeking Truth in the Post-Truth Era

Since 2015, when Reason first sat down with Adam Conover, host of TruTV's hit show Adam Ruins Everything, a new president has taken office, a new media landscape has emerged, and some would say we're inhabiting a new reality. What's it like to make a show that seeks to uncover hidden truths in the "post-truth era"? "I guess what's happened is that I've a little bit let go of the idea that we can reach everybody," says Conover, who's about to go on a live tour and is gearing up for the premiere of his show's third season. "Certain people...the informational world they live in, it's so distorted that it's hard to get through." But most people still have a "deep down desire to learn, to know the truth," he says. In a wide-ranging interview with Reason's Zach Weissmueller (full disclosure: Weissmueller is married to the show's casting director), Conover shares his thoughts on the "response videos" to his work proliferating on YouTube, how he contends with the psychological defense mechanisms that prevent viewers from changing their opinions, the "de-platforming" of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and how big tech companies are changing our perceptions of reality. The new season of Adam Ruins Everything premieres on November 27, 2018, and his live tour starts on November 28. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Paul Detrick, Justin Monticello, and Alexis Garcia. "Happy Whistle" by Scott Holmes is licensed under an Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license "Symphony No. 5" by Gustav Mahler and performed by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony is licensend under a Creative Commons Unported Attribution License


That Time Ayn Rand Threatened <em>Reason</em> with Legal Action

Can you imagine a lawsuit called Rand v. Reason, pitting the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged against the nation's only magazine of "Free Minds and Free Markets"? Well, it almost happened in the 1970s. In the latest Reason Podcast, one of our founding editors, Manny Klausner, tells Nick Gillespie that tale, along with many stories of the early days of Reason and the libertarian movement. Attending New York University law school in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Klausner studied with Ludwig von Mises, represented the libertarian wing of the fledgling Conservative Party, and came under the influence of firebrand economist Murray Rothbard as well. While working at Reason, Klausner (archive here) produced memorable interviews with the likes of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, economist Thomas Sowell, '70s self-help guru Robert Ringer, and future President Ronald Reagan. Founded in 1968 by Lanny Friedlander (1947–2011), Reason is celebrating its 50th anniversary by hosting a series of in-depth conversations with past editors about how the magazine has changed since its founding, what we've gotten right and wrong over the years, and what the future holds for believers in "free minds and free markets." Along with Poole and Tibor Machan (1939-2016), Klausner was one of the principals of Reason Enterprises, which bought the magazine from the Friedlander in 1971. He was also a co-founder of the nonprofit Reason Foundation, established in 1978, which continues to publish this website and podcast. As an attorney, Klausner participated in Bush v. Gore, the case that settled the 2000 election, and successfully defended Matt Drudge in a defamation suit brought by Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal. Audio production by Ian Keyser. Photo credit: Jim Epstein.


Libertarian Filmmaker, Podcaster Kmele Foster Wants To Change the World

In 2004, Michael Bell's 21-year-old son was killed by police during a routine traffic stop in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Within three days, local law enforcement declared it had fully investigated the matter and announced that police had acted properly throughout. Pushing through his grief, Bell also pushed for change, beginning a decade-long campaign to legally mandate truly independent investigations into deadly use of force by police. He succeeded in Wisconsin and, to date, seven other states to pass such legislation. Bell's crusade is the subject of a recent video by today's podcast subject, Kmele Foster of Freethink Media, an online video platform founded in 2011 to tell stories about human perseverance, inspiration, and progress. Foster is also the former co-host, with Kennedy and Reason's own Matt Welch, of the Fox Business show The Independents, and a current co-host of the popular podcast The Fifth Column, a free-wheeling, boozy deep-read of news and popular culture. Foster was born in 1980 and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Nick Gillespie talks with him about how the Michael Bell story exemplifies what Freethink Media is trying to accomplish, what it was like growing up in an immigrant household (his mother is Jamaican), why libertarianism is underrepresented among racial and ethnic minorities, how he came to his anarcho-capitalist beliefs, and what his hopes are for his 1-year-old daughter. Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Stubborn Attachments To Freedom and Prosperity - Reason Podcast' style="">

Tyler Cowen's <em>Stubborn Attachments</em> To Freedom and Prosperity

Over the past 20 years, arguably no libertarian thinker has cut a broader or deeper swath than Tyler Cowen, who holds the Holbert L. Harris Chair in economics at George Mason University and acts as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center. Co-founder of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, the 56-year-old New Jersey native is a regular contributor at Bloomberg and for years wrote an "economic scene" column for The New York Times. He is the host of Conversations with Tyler, a podcast series that includes interviews with people as diverse as Martina Navratilova, Paul Krugman, and Dave Barry, and the author of a shelf full of books, including 2000’s In Praise of Commercial Culture, 2007’s Discover Your Inner Economist and last year’s The Complacent Class. His work is at once intellectually serious, concise, and engaging, and his unique perspective yields fascinating analyses of activities and subjects that most economists ignore—everything from the literal and figurative prices of fame to how globalization empowers Mexican folk artists to whether public funding for the arts has been more successful than most free-marketers would grant. A recurring theme over the past decade is a fear that America and much of the West may have entered a period he calls "the great stagnation," in which technological innovation and economic growth have slowed even as risk-taking and moonshot-type ventures are demonized or ignored altogether. Nick Gillespie sat down to talk with Cowen about his newest book, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals. It’s an unapologetically libertarian argument for what he calls long-term sustainable economic growth and, more importantly, intellectual and cultural attitudes that are unabashedly devoted to freedom and prosperity. It’s a provocative, powerful argument for an America in which government does less, individuals do more, and the future becomes the object of our dreams rather than a repository of our fears. Audio production by Ian Keyser.


Most Libertarians Don't Understand Friedrich Hayek, Says Peter Boettke

With populism on the rise, capitalism under attack, and socialism back in vogue, the work of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek (1899–1992) is more relevant than ever. Hayek started his career as a wunderkind professor, joining the faculty of the London School of Economics in his early thirties, and was a central figure in the debates that consumed the profession during the Great Depression. He would go on to spend most of his seven-decade long career as an outsider, his work diverging from the mainstream following the Keynesian revolution of the 1930s and '40s. Eventually the world circled back to Hayek's ideas, and he was one of two recipients of the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Today, Hayek is best known for his enduring insights on emergent order, for his critique of central planning, and for his argument that all knowledge in society is decentralized and that a modern economy thus relies the coordinating role of prices and private property. In his final book, The Fatal Conceit, Hayek attacked wrote that "the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." Hayek's enormous body of work is the subject of a new book by the George Mason University economist Peter Boettke, which takes a deep dive into Hayek's writing and serves as a rousing call for a serious rethinking of libertarian and classical liberal thought. "Liberalism is in need of renewal," writes Boettke, who started his career as an expert on post-communist economics in the former Soviet Union. "Too much time and effort has been put into repackaging and marketing a fixed doctrine of eternal truths, rather than rethinking and evolving to meet the new challenges." Even Hayek, Boettke notes, made mistakes late in his career, such as his kind words for the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Hayek's great legacy is his understanding of economics and liberal political theory as a process for creating a world in which individuals and society could become more free, equal, and prosperous over time. In this Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with Boettke about the historical and intellectual context of Hayek's thought, the influence of Hayek's mentor Ludwig von Mises on his work, and how libertarians can follow Hayek's dictum that "we must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage."


Tom Woods: The Making of an Anti-War Libertarian

Tom Woods stands accused of many things, but laziness is not one of them. A senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods is the author of a dozen books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. He's written curricula for the Ron Paul homeschool program; he co-hosts, along with economist Robert Murphy, the weekly Contra-Krugman podcast, which dissects columns by New York Times Nobel laureate Paul Krugman; and he posts a new episode of the popular Tom Woods Show every day. A champion of the Austrian School of economics and a devotee of Murray Rothbard, Woods didn't exactly start out as a radical anti-statist. He was, he says, a "moderate Republican," happy to lavish government spending on domestic programs and to launch bombs at evildoers abroad. It was the 1992 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan, who was against the Gulf War and opposed to new military adventures abroad, that began the transformation. Now, Woods is one of the leading antiwar voices in the libertarian movement. Never one to shy away from a social media scrap, Woods got into an epic Twitter feud last summer with the leadership of the Libertarian Party. One side called the Mises Institute a gateway drug to white nationalism and the alt-right, while Woods and his allies mocked the Libertarian National Committee as a bunch of "social justice warriors." Then something curious happened: After the L.P.'s Mises Caucus failed to dislodge party chair Nicholas Sarwark at this year's national convention, Woods and his friends redoubled their efforts to transform the party from within. Edited by Mark McDaniel and Todd Krainin. Oxygen Garden by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Attribution License. Photo credit: George Skidmore. (CC BY-SA 2.0.)


Median Household Income Is at an All-Time High. Are You Happy Yet?

Here's some really good news: Median household income in the United States is at a record-high, inflation-adjusted $61,372. When you factor in that today's households contain fewer people, the news is even better. In 1975, for instance, average income per person per household was just $19,500. Now it's $34,000 (all figures in 2017 dollars). And get a load of this: Since the 1990s, there is no evidence that income inequality is growing or the ability to move up and down the income ladder is shrinking. More people than ever live in households pulling down $100,000 (again, adjusted for inflation) than ever. Fewer households make less than $35,000 (adjusted for inflation). All of this comes courtesy of U.S. Census that's compiled and analyzed by economist Mark J. Perry, who works at the American Enterprise Institute and University of Michigan (Flint), and runs the Carpe Diem blog. Do you feel happy yet? On today's Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with Perry both about his findings and why we don't feel richer, happier, or more secure than we do. Perry isn't a Trump booster by any means, but he suggests that some of the president's policies—particularly the tax cuts and deregulatory moves in many parts of the economy—are helping to keep an economic expansion that started under President Obama moving along. At the same time, he worries over accumulating debt and trade wars that can raise prices and, more important, introduce wild uncertainty into the economy. When investors "see that there's uncertainty about policy that starts to distort decision making and capital spending." Perry suggests one reason we don't feel more satisfied with economic improvements is that they are a feature and not a bug of a free enterprise system. "The benefits of a market economy and the march of progress are so constant and so gradual that either we don't appreciate it or don't notice it," he says. "So we have an under-appreciation of how much better things get all the time. If it happened all at once, we'd probably just be amazed." Audio production by Ian Keyser.


‘We Are Always on the Verge of Chaos:’ The PJ O’Rourke Interview

For the last 45 years, no writer has taken a bigger blowtorch to the sacred cows of American life than libertarian humorist P.J. O'Rourke. As a writer at National Lampoon in the 1970s, he co-authored best-selling parodies of high school yearbooks and Sunday newspapers. For Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, and other publications, O'Rourke traveled to war zones and other disaster areas, chronicling the folly of military and economic intervention. In 1991, he came out with Parliament of Whores, which explained why politicians should be the last people to have any power. Subtitled "A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government," this international bestseller probably minted more libertarians than any book since Free to Choose or Atlas Shrugged. More recently, O'Rourke published a critical history of his own Baby Boomer generation and How The Hell Did This Happen?, a richly reported account of Donald Trump's unexpected 2016 presidential victory. O'Rourke's new book, None of My Business, explains "why he's not rich and neither are you." It's partly the result of hanging out with wealthy money managers and businessmen and what they've taught him over the years about creating meaning and value in an ever richer and crazier world. It covers everything from social media to learning how to drink in war zones to why the Chinese may be more American than U.S. citizens. He also explains why even though he doesn't understand or like a lot of things about modern technology, he doesn't fear Amazon or Google, especially compared to people who are calling for Socialism 2.0. Nick Gillespie sat down with O'Rourke to talk about all that, the good and bad of Donald Trump, and why being an "old white man" just isn't what it used to be (and why he's OK with that). Edited by Ian Keyser. "Please Listen Carefully" by Jahzzar used under a Creative Commons license.


Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz, Hugo Chavez, and the Return of Socialism

For a quarter of a century, Gene Epstein was the economics editor and a columnist at the business magazine Barron's. Before that, he served as an economist for the New York Stock Exchange. Now, he runs The Soho Forum, a monthly Oxford-style debate series held in New York that covers topics of special interests to libertarians. (As a co-sponsor, Reason records and releases audio and video versions of each debate. Go here for a full archive). Epstein has just published a major essay in City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute, about the long and error-prone career of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, whom he calls "continually mistaken" but "chronically admired." Stiglitz, writes Epstein, is the apotheosis of "elite myopia" when it comes to trusting government over free markets to improve the lives of the poor. Read the article here. In the latest Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with Epstein about the continuing influence of Stiglitz, a former adviser to Bill Clinton and chief economist at the World Bank who is a favorite of progressive Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.). We also talk about Epstein's upcoming October 15 debate in New York with Bhaskar Sunkara, the editor and publisher of the left-wing Jacobin magazine, about whether socialism or capitalism is the better system for making people more free and prosperous. To buy tickets, which must be purchased in advance, go here now. Audio production by Ian Keyser.


Francis Fukuyama Says Identity Politics Are Killing America and Empowering Donald Trump

Since the publication of his 1989 essay "The End of History?," no political scientist has been more influential in discussions of global democracy than Francis Fukuyama. In the years since then, the Stanford professor has authored a shelf full of prescient and commanding texts, including The End of History and the Last Man, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creaton of Prosperity, and Our Post-Human Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. Once a neoconservative who staunchly believed in military intervention and nation building, Fukuyama has been chastened by the failure of U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 and has renounced his early support for the invasion and occupation in Iraq. In his new book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, he argues that the rise of populism, nationalism, and grievance cultures based on racial, ethnic, and gender identity both here and abroad are undermining the basis of liberal democracy and threaten economic prosperity and peace. "Every single one of these struggles is justified," Fukuyama told The Chronicle of Higher Education recently. "The problem is in the way we interpret injustice and how we try to solve it, which tends to fragment society." Nick Gillespie spoke with Fukuyama about Identity, whether it's possible to create a national identity that is capable of bringing Americans of all sorts together without becoming oppressive and stultifying, and why he believes that a Democratic win in the midterm elections is essential to checking what he sees as the authoritarian tendencies of Donald Trump.


The Importance of Uncomfortable Conversations

Zachary R. Wood came to national attention when, as a undergraduate at ultra-liberal Williams College, the student group that he helped lead was pressured to cancel its invitation to Suzanne Venker, a conservative author and critic of feminism. Activists accused him of "causing actual mental, social, psychological, and physical harm" to his fellow students, and "paying for...the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters." After he invited the former National Review writer John Derbyshire to speak, the university president unilaterally shut the event down. The self-described "liberal Democrat" and Hillary Clinton supporter says his commitment to open dialogue comes from dealing with his mother's mental illness, his frequent moves as a child, and being a black scholarship student at mostly white, wealthy schools. Around the fourth grade, he explains, he started going to private schools. "I was coming from a disadvantaged community and going to a school in a more affluent community and that meant I had to be open and making friends with peers from very different backgrounds." He notes that he and his new schoolmates were quick to project both negative and positive stereotypes on one another. "Part of what that experience challenged me to do was to assess those stereotypes and resist the inclination to make them." In Uncensored: My Life and Uncomfortable Conversations at the Intersection of Black and White America, Wood writes about the urgent need for civil discourse and open debate, especially on college campuses. The recent graduate talked with Reason about how administrators are as much or more to blame as student activists for the repressive atmosphere at universities, and why he looks forward to exploring issues of class mobility and how school choice can benefit low-income minorities in his work as a journalist.

Reason Podcast Podcast


With <em>Reason</em> on "Fr...


Today, we've got a special podcast: The speech that Mitch Daniels, the former two-term governor of Indiana and the current president of Purdue University, gave at Reason's 50th anniversary celebration, held in Los Angeles in early November. A thinking man's ...