My name is Juliette Sellgren, and I am the college student who hosts The Great Antidote podcast. I’m thrilled to announce a big development: Starting next week Liberty Fund’s AdamSmithWorks will now host The Great Antidote. In anticipation of this event, I want to give a little background on myself and the podcast.
I started my podcast in April 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as my high school was “virtual” but essentially shut down. This podcast became my creative outlet and I used it to learn and remain connected with the world outside of my home.
Since then, The Great Antidote has become a way for me to share with others what I am learning. I do so through interviews with experts who help me to highlight the fact that the easy answers people give to problems are often incorrect. Surface-level logic might lead you to one conclusion about the consequences of government intervention, but this conclusion might well be mistaken. As Frederic Bastiat
noted, “an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause — it is seen
. The others unfold in succession — they are not seen
An example is the minimum wage
. On the surface, it seems clear that raising the minimum wage helps the lowest-paid workers. But because employers will likely respond to the higher minimum wage by eliminating some jobs and making other jobs more onerous, the “unseen” effects loom large.
In other words, through my podcast, I explore the unseen, counterintuitive effects of policy whether it be poverty, the use of drones by the military, or the benefits of export subsidies.
Now about the format of the podcast. I start each of my episodes by asking, “What is the most important thing people my age or in my generation should know that they don’t?” and I conclude each episode by asking, “What is one thing you believed at one time in your life that you later changed your position on and why?” I truly believe in the importance of learning from the wisdom of others and of knowing that even experts make mistakes. This belief is showcased in these questions. I think it gives us a window into each guest’s mind and values, in an indirect and practical way.
Each episode is 45 minutes long – long enough to contain substantial information but short enough to fit into a walk, drive, or grocery run
What about the content? Each episode is the map of what I have learned in my research, starting from the most basic questions to the more complicated ones. The result is a podcast in which each episode offers a relatively comprehensive discussion about the topic at hand. No built-in or specialized knowledge is required to listen, learn, and enjoy. Still, each episode delivers an enormous amount of information. This is especially true when covering difficult topics.
To celebrate this development for my podcast, I am honoring my host site, AdamSmithWorks.org, by beginning this new era with Adam Smith-themed episodes. I love learning and talking about Adam Smith
. In fact, the name of this podcast comes from an Adam Smith quote, which goes like this: "Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition." Of course, I have learned over the past two years that, by this, Adam Smith didn’t mean what government officials mean when they repeat as a mantra that we should “follow the science”. Institutions and incentives in which science is produced and how it is used, by whom and for what purpose matter a great deal, as Jonathan Rauch
’s book The Constitution of Knowledge
shows very persuasively. For example, whether this science exists in a society where the culture of free speech is strong or not can make all the difference in the world. I will explore those differences as well.
As you will notice if you explore the past episodes – most of which were produced during my time at Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity
– there are some recurring themes that run through this podcast. One of these themes is cronyism, or the unhealthy marriage between government and businesses. Through my interviews, I have also become a big fan of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and I expect to continue exploring them. But I am also interested in learning more about various other amendments of our Constitution
, as I realized that I didn’t know much about them. Each has a deep history worth exploring, as well as modern day implications. I am also really interested in all the government programs that people love without understanding what these programs actually
accomplish. I have looked into the minimum wage, tariffs, and many others, and I suspect I will continue exploring this theme. There are many more topics this podcast covers, and I am sure a year from now, I will have discovered and shared with you many new ones.
More importantly, what I love about this podcast are my guests. I have had remarkable guests so far from Nobel Prize economist Vernon Smith
to (among others) George Will, Bryan Caplan
, Don Boudreaux, Jason Brennan, Sarah Skwire
, Deirdre McCloskey, Randy Barnett, Trevor Burrus, Jonathan Rauch, and Liberty Fund’s star podcaster Russ Roberts
. Those guests are top scholars in their fields, and I am honored that they agree to talk to me. I can’t wait to talk to many more guests and to learn from them.
In an essay on this website, Jack Russel Weinstein makes the case
that “Education is foundational to [Adam] Smith’s work in three ways: it enables acculturation, it improves human capabilities, and it cultivates knowledge.” In a follow-up piece, he notes
that Smith believed that “an educated populace is less susceptible to fanaticism.” Hopefully, this podcast contributes to Adam Smith’s project on education, starting with myself.