Cass Robert Sunstein FBA is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics. He was the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration, and he taught at the University of Chicago Law School.
Cass Sunstein gained international notoriety for his book "Nudge," about habits and choice architecture. He then worked as the regulatory czar for the Obama administration--the regulator who regulates regulations. His latest book is "Conformity: The Power of Social Influences." He joins Heaton to discuss how behavioral economics can shape smart policy without limiting individual freedom, and how conformity makes groups collectively dumber.
I want to be a Jedi Knight. The idea of surrendering to some “force” greater than oneself. The idea of being in touch with some essence that can bring out my full potential in way that I could never possibly understand. When Cass Sunstein, genius economist (author of “Nudge“, 40 other books, does Nobel-prize level research) wrote “The World According to Star Wars“, I knew I had to talk to him. I reached out to everyone I knew, found a way to get ahold of Cass, who wasn’t doing any interviews on the book, and managed to book some  time with him. I’ve written many times before about the effect Star Wars has had on my life. But I was also interested in the phenomenon of Star Wars, a topic Cass writes about. In particular, why was it a hit? George Lucas is the living breathing manifestation of “idea sex”. He takes concepts that worked in the past, meshes them together, and knows the combination will work. For example: think of a blonde-haired young man who has to reluctantly save the world from an evil galactic empire, uses laser powered swords and blasters, and meets a beautiful princess along the way. If you think “Flash Gordon” you’d be right. What you might not know is that George Lucas tried to buy the rights to the old TV serial “Flash Gordon”. He wanted to make the movie. He was rejected so he made Star Wars. Or you might think Joseph’s Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”, which George Lucas studied religiously before writing the script to Star Wars. Or you might think…any of a dozen influences George Lucas had and meshed together. His idea: to take the familiar, provide his own twists, and release. If the old influences were hits and he just changed one aspect (make a Western a Space Opera) there’s a good chance he would have a hit. Cass Sunstein explores: what makes a hit? What makes a failure? What makes something a hit after it’s been dead for years (example: Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” didn’t sell at all while he was alive and is now considered one of the best-written books of all time). This is a topic I am obsessed with. Combine that with the topic of “Star Wars” and now Cass Sunstein has written a book I am obsessed with. We found a room to hide in and we spent the next hour laughing and swapping notes on the relevancy of The Force in today’s world. We didn’t talk economics, world history, behavioral psychology or any of the topics he is one of the best experts in the world in: We talked about what makes stories go viral. We talked about how much we enjoyed this cultural hit that changed generations. We were two kids talking about our favorite movie.See for privacy information.
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Creator Details

Sep 21st, 1954
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
1 hour, 43 minutes
Podchaser Creator ID logo 847402