The Rational Spy: How Incentives Screw with Everything

Worst case scenario, the spy gets killed
— Benedetta Lerva 

If you hire a spy, a lot can happen. They can get caught. They can get tortured with endless roundhouse kicks to the face. And worst case scenario: they can die. So if you had to risk someone’s life to spy for your country, would you do it? And, more importantly, what does this teach us about what it means to be a better person?

An economist helps us figure it out.


The Facts

Moonwalk is hosted, written, and produced by Mohnish Soundararajan. Episode was co-hosted by Kevin Sanji. Feedback is by Vysali Soundararajan.

Special thanks to Benedetta Lerva. The research: East-West Germany espionage paper, Rotten Kid Theorem paper, and the “Pay Not to Go to the Gym” paper.

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Music is by Podington Bear, BitBasic, and Broke for Free.