Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

www.wnycstudios.org/articles/freakonomics-podcast
Have fun discovering the hidden side of everything with host Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the best-selling “Freakonomics” books. Each week, hear surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human natu
How to Catch World Cup Fever
Jun 13 • 56 min
For soccer fans, it’s easy. For the rest of us? Not so much, especially since the U.S. team didn’t qualify. So here’s what to watch for even if you have no team to root for. Because the World Cup isn’t just a gargantuan sporting event; it’s a microcosm of…
How to Build a Smart City
Jun 6 • 39 min
We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it’s hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City — and tried to bring the Olympics there — is now…
How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns? (Rebroadcast)
May 30 • 28 min
Nearly two percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?
The Most Vilified Industry in America Is Also the Most Charitable
May 23 • 34 min
Pharmaceutical firms donate an enormous amount of their products (and some cash too). But it doesn’t seem to be helping their reputation. We ask Pfizer’s generosity chief why the company gives so much, who it really helps, and whether all this…
Does Doing Good Give You License to Be Bad?
May 16 • 37 min
Corporate Social Responsibility programs can attract better job applicants who’ll work for less money. But they also encourage employees to misbehave. Don’t laugh — you too probably engage in “moral licensing,” even if you don’t know it.
5 Psychology Terms You’re Probably Misusing
May 9 • 50 min
We all like to throw around terms that describe human behavior — “bystander apathy” and “steep learning curve” and “hard-wired.” Most of the time, they don’t actually mean what we think they mean. But don’t worry — the experts are getting it wrong, too.
Evolution, Accelerated (Rebroadcast)
May 2 • 36 min
A breakthrough in genetic technology has given humans more power than ever to change nature. It could help eliminate hunger and disease; it could also lead to the sort of dystopia we used to only read about in sci-fi novels. So what happens next?
The Most Ambitious Thing Humans Have Ever Attempted
Apr 25 • 51 min
Sure, medical progress has been astounding. But today the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country, with so-so outcomes. Atul Gawande — cancer surgeon, public-health researcher, and best-selling author — has some simple ideas for treating a…
Why the Trump Tax Cuts Are Terrible/Awesome (Part 2)
Apr 18 • 44 min
Three former White House economists weigh in on the new tax bill. A sample: “The overwhelming evidence is that the trickle-down, magic-beanstalk beans argument — that’s just nonsense.”
Why the Trump Tax Cuts are Awesome/Terrible (Part 1)
Apr 11 • 45 min
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explains the thinking behind the controversial new Republican tax package — and why its critics are wrong. (Next week, we’ll hear from the critics.)
Extra: Ray Dalio Full Interview
Apr 8 • 78 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the founder and longtime C.E.O. of Bridgewater Associates, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
The Invisible Paw
Apr 4 • 48 min
Humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we’ve had it exactly backward?
Extra: Mark Zuckerberg Full Interview
Apr 1 • 46 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the Facebook founder and C.E.O., recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask) (Rebroadcast)
Mar 28 • 44 min
The bad news: roughly 70 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. The good news: all the important stuff can fit on one index card. Here’s how to become your own financial superhero.
Extra: Carol Bartz Full Interview
Mar 25 • 51 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the former C.E.O. of Yahoo, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
The Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money (Rebroadcast)
Mar 21 • 46 min
It’s hard enough to save for a house, tuition, or retirement. So why are we willing to pay big fees for subpar investment returns? Enter the low-cost index fund. The revolution will not be monetized.
Extra: Jack Welch Full Interview
Mar 18 • 56 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the former longtime C.E.O. of General Electric, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
How to Train Your Dragon Child
Mar 14 • 35 min
Every 12 years, there’s a spike in births among certain communities across the globe, including the U.S. Why? Because the Year of the Dragon, according to Chinese folk belief, confers power, fortune, and more. We look at what happens to Dragon babies when…
Extra: Satya Nadella Full Interview
Mar 11 • 40 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the C.E.O. of Microsoft, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
Here’s Why All Your Projects Are Always Late — and What to Do About It
Mar 7 • 41 min
Whether it’s a giant infrastructure plan or a humble kitchen renovation, it’ll inevitably take way too long and cost way too much. That’s because you suffer from “the planning fallacy.” (You also have an “optimism bias” and a bad case of overconfidence.)…
Extra: David Rubenstein Full Interview
Mar 4 • 90 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the co-founder and longtime co-C.E.O. of the Carlyle Group, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.” (http://freakonomics.com/ceos).
Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late? (Rebroadcast)
Feb 28 • 46 min
In our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.
Extra: Richard Branson Full Interview
Feb 25 • 55 min
Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the Virgin Group founder, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”
​Letting Go
Feb 21 • 45 min
If you’re a C.E.O., there are a lot of ways to leave your job, from abrupt firing to carefully planned succession (which may still go spectacularly wrong). In this final episode of our “Secret Life of a C.E.O.” series, we hear those stories and many more.…
After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff
Feb 14 • 52 min
Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. Why? Research shows that female executives are more likely to be put in charge of firms that are already in crisis. Are they being set up to fail? (Part 5 of a special series, “The Secret Life of…
It’s Your Problem Now
Feb 7 • 44 min
No, it’s not your fault the economy crashed. Or that consumer preferences changed. Or that new technologies have blown apart your business model. But if you’re the C.E.O., it is your problem. So what are you going to do about it? First-hand stories of…
What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap?
Feb 6 • 42 min
The gig economy offers the ultimate flexibility to set your own hours. That’s why economists thought it would help eliminate the gender pay gap. A new study, using data from over a million Uber drivers, finds the story isn’t so simple.
An Egghead’s Guide to the Super Bowl (Rebroadcast)
Feb 2 • 29 min
We assembled a panel of smart dudes — a two-time Super Bowl champ; a couple of N.F.L. linemen, including one who’s getting a math Ph.D. at MIT; and our resident economist — to tell you what to watch for, whether you’re a football fanatic or a total newbie.
“I Wasn’t Stupid Enough to Say This Could Be Done Overnight”
Jan 31 • 47 min
Indra Nooyi became C.E.O. of PepsiCo just in time for a global financial meltdown. She also had a portfolio full of junk food just as the world decided that junk food is borderline toxic. Here’s the story of how she overhauled that portfolio, stared down…
How to Become a C.E.O.
Jan 24 • 44 min
Mark Zuckerberg’s dentist dad was an early adopter of digital x-rays. Jack Welch blew the roof off a factory. Carol Bartz was a Wisconsin farm girl who got into computers. No two C.E.O.’s have the same origin story — so we tell them all! How the leaders…
What Does a C.E.O. Actually Do?
Jan 17 • 38 min
They’re paid a fortune — but for what, exactly? What makes a good C.E.O. — and how can you even tell? Is “leadership science” a real thing — or just airport-bookstore mumbo jumbo? We put these questions to Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi,…
How to Be a Modern Democrat — and Win
Jan 10 • 38 min
Gina Raimondo, the governor of tiny Rhode Island, has taken on unions, boosted big business, and made friends with Republicans. She is also one of just 15 Democratic governors in the country. Would there be more of them if there were more like her?
Why Is My Life So Hard? (Rebroadcast)
Jan 3 • 30 min
Most of us feel we face more headwinds and obstacles than everyone else — which breeds resentment. We also undervalue the tailwinds that help us — which leaves us ungrateful and unhappy. How can we avoid this trap?
Trust Me (Rebroadcast)
Dec 27, 2017 • 29 min
Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?
Make Me a Match (Rebroadcast)
Dec 20, 2017 • 52 min
Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Al Roth.
Not Your Grandmother’s I.M.F.
Dec 13, 2017 • 38 min
The International Monetary Fund has long been the “lender of last resort” for economies in crisis. Christine Lagarde, who runs the institution, would like to prevent those crises from ever happening. She tells us her plans.
Why Is the Live-Event Ticket Market So Screwed Up?
Dec 6, 2017 • 48 min
The public has almost no chance to buy good tickets to the best events. Ticket brokers, meanwhile, make huge profits on the secondary markets. Here’s the story of how this market got so dysfunctional, how it can be fixed – and why it probably won’t be.
Are We Running Out of Ideas?
Nov 29, 2017 • 37 min
Economists have a hard time explaining why productivity growth has been shrinking. One theory: true innovation has gotten much harder – and much more expensive. So what should we do next?
Is America Ready for a “No-Lose Lottery”? (Update)
Nov 22, 2017 • 45 min
Most people don’t enjoy the simple, boring act of putting money in a savings account. But we do love to play the lottery. So what if you combine the two, creating a new kind of savings account with a lottery payout?
Nurses to the Rescue!
Nov 15, 2017 • 57 min
They are the most-trusted profession in America (and with good reason). They are critical to patient outcomes (especially in primary care). Could the growing army of nurse practitioners be an answer to the doctor shortage? The data say yes but — big…
How Can I Do the Most Social Good With $100? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions
Nov 8, 2017 • 43 min
Dubner and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt answer your questions about crime, traffic, real-estate agents, the Ph.D. glut, and how to not get eaten by a bear.
Why Is There So Much Ground Beef in the World? (Special Feature)
Nov 6, 2017 • 43 min
In this live episode of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” you’ll learn about carcass balancing, teen sleeping, and brand naming. Joining Stephen J. Dubner as co-host is Alex Wagner (CBS This Morning Saturday); author A.J. Jacobs (It’s All Relative) is the…
Thinking Is Expensive. Who’s Supposed to Pay for It?
Nov 1, 2017 • 38 min
Corporations and rich people donate billions to their favorite think tanks and foundations. Should we be grateful for their generosity — or suspicious of their motives?
How to Launch a Behavior-Change Revolution
Oct 25, 2017 • 44 min
Academic studies are nice, and so are Nobel Prizes. But to truly prove the value of a new idea, you have to unleash it to the masses. That’s what a dream team of social scientists is doing — and we sat in as they drew up their game plan.
The Demonization of Gluten
Oct 18, 2017 • 43 min
Celiac disease is thought to affect roughly one percent of the population. The good news: it can be treated by quitting gluten. The bad news: many celiac patients haven’t been diagnosed. The weird news: millions of people without celiac disease have quit…
What Are the Secrets of the German Economy — and Should We Steal Them?
Oct 11, 2017 • 57 min
Smart government policies, good industrial relations, and high-end products have helped German manufacturing beat back the threats of globalization.
Time to Take Back the Toilet (Rebroadcast)
Oct 4, 2017 • 31 min
Public bathrooms are noisy, poorly designed, and often nonexistent. What to do?
“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” on the topic of Behavior Change (Special Feature)
Sep 30, 2017 • 55 min
Stephen J. Dubner hosts an episode full of the world’s most renowned behavior change experts, including Colin Camerer, Ayelet Fishbach, David Laibson, Max Bazerman, Katy Milkman, and Kevin Volpp. Angela Duckworth (psychologist and author of Grit) is our…
Why Larry Summers Is the Economist Everyone Hates to Love
Sep 27, 2017 • 50 min
He’s been U.S. Treasury Secretary, a chief economist for the Obama White House and the World Bank, and president of Harvard. He’s one of the most brilliant economists of his generation (and perhaps the most irascible). And he thinks the Trump…
Why Learn Esperanto? (Special Feature)
Sep 25, 2017 • 31 min
A language invented in the 19th century, and meant to be universal, it never really caught on. So why does a group of Esperantists from around the world gather once a year to celebrate their bond?
What Would Be the Best Universal Language? (Earth 2.0 Series)
Sep 20, 2017 • 41 min
We explore votes for English, Indonesian, and … Esperanto! The search for a common language goes back millennia, but so much still gets lost in translation. Will technology finally solve that?
Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language? (Earth 2.0 Series)
Sep 13, 2017 • 43 min
There are 7,000 languages spoken on Earth. What are the costs — and benefits — of our modern-day Tower of Babel?
“How Much Brain Damage Do I Have?”
Sep 6, 2017 • 47 min
John Urschel was the only player in the N.F.L. simultaneously getting a math Ph.D. at M.I.T. But after a new study came out linking football to brain damage, he abruptly retired. Here’s the inside story — and a look at how we make decisions in the face of…
Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis (Rebroadcast)
Aug 30, 2017 • 47 min
By some estimates, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. How can that be? And what’s to be done? Our third and final episode in this series offers some encouraging answers.
Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations (Rebroadcast)
Aug 23, 2017 • 45 min
How do so many ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market? One reason is that clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who aren’t representative of a larger population. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing worse than being…
Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6 (Rebroadcast)
Aug 16, 2017 • 44 min
We tend to think of medicine as a science, but for most of human history it has been scientific-ish at best. In the first episode of a three-part series, we look at the grotesque mistakes produced by centuries of trial-and-error, and ask whether the new…
What Are You Waiting For? (Rebroadcast)
Aug 9, 2017 • 36 min
Standing in line represents a particularly sloppy — and frustrating — way for supply and demand to meet. Why haven’t we found a better way to get what we want? Is it possible that we secretly enjoy waiting in line? And might it even be (gulp) good for us?
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Aug 2, 2017 • 44 min
The bad news: roughly 70 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. The good news: all the important stuff can fit on one index card. Here’s how to become your own financial superhero.
The Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money
Jul 26, 2017 • 48 min
It’s hard enough to save for a house, tuition, or retirement. So why are we willing to pay big fees for subpar investment returns? Enter the low-cost index fund. The revolution will not be monetized.
These Shoes Are Killing Me!
Jul 19, 2017 • 39 min
The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece, far more functional than we give it credit for. So why do we encase it in “a coffin” (as one foot scholar calls it) that stymies so much of its ability — and may create more problems than it solves?
When Helping Hurts
Jul 12, 2017 • 51 min
Good intentions are nice, but with so many resources poured into social programs, wouldn’t it be even nicer to know what actually works?
The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From Marriage
Jul 5, 2017 • 43 min
Over 40 percent of U.S. births are to unmarried mothers, and the numbers are especially high among the less-educated. Why? One argument is that the decline in good manufacturing jobs led to a decline in “marriageable” men. Surely the fracking boom…
The Harvard President Will See You Now (Rebroadcast)
Jun 28, 2017 • 39 min
How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world.
Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2)
Jun 22, 2017 • 38 min
Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his…
Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 1)
Jun 21, 2017 • 43 min
Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his…
“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” on the topic of Rivalry
Jun 19, 2017 • 61 min
Steve Levitt, Scott Turow and Bridget Gainer are panelists. For the “Freakonomics” co-author, the attorney and novelist, and the Cook County commissioner it’s “game on!” as they tackle competition of all kinds: athletic, sexual, geopolitical, and the…
Evolution, Accelerated
Jun 14, 2017 • 35 min
A breakthrough in genetic technology has given humans more power than ever to change nature. It could help eliminate hunger and disease; it could also lead to the sort of dystopia we used to only read about in sci-fi novels. So what happens next?
He’s One of the Most Famous Political Operatives in America. America Just Doesn’t Know It Yet.
Jun 7, 2017 • 42 min
Steve Hilton was the man behind David Cameron’s push to remake British politics. Things didn’t work out so well there. Now he’s trying to launch a new political revolution – from sunny California.
How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns?
May 31, 2017 • 27 min
Nearly two percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?
Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor?
May 24, 2017 • 43 min
A series of academic studies suggest that the wealthy are, to put it bluntly, selfish jerks. It’s an easy narrative to swallow — but is it true? A trio of economists set out to test the theory. All it took was a Dutch postal worker’s uniform, some…
Hoopers! Hoopers! Hoopers!
May 17, 2017 • 39 min
As CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer was famous for over-the-top enthusiasm. Now he’s brought that same passion to the N.B.A. — and to a pet project called USAFacts, which performs a sort of fiscal colonoscopy on the American government.
How Big is My Penis? (And Other Things We Ask Google)
May 10, 2017 • 33 min
On the Internet, people say all kinds of things they’d never say aloud — about sex and race, about their true wants and fears. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has spent years parsing the data. His conclusion: our online searches are the reflection of our true…
Food + Science = Victory! (Rebroadcast)
May 3, 2017 • 36 min
A kitchen wizard and a nutrition detective talk about the perfect hamburger, getting the most out of garlic, and why you should use vodka in just about everything.
There’s a War on Sugar. Is It Justified?
Apr 26, 2017 • 45 min
Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it’s addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make?
Is Income Inequality Inevitable? (Earth 2.0 Series)
Apr 19, 2017 • 40 min
In pursuit of a more perfect economy, we discuss the future of work; the toxic remnants of colonization; and whether giving everyone a basic income would be genius — or maybe the worst idea ever.
What Would Our Economy Look Like? (Earth 2.0 Series)
Apr 12, 2017 • 42 min
If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we’ve blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we’ll release over several months.…
Could Solving This One Problem Solve All the Others?
Apr 5, 2017 • 35 min
The biggest problem with humanity is humans themselves. Too often, we make choices — what we eat, how we spend our money and time — that undermine our well-being. An all-star team of academic researchers thinks it has the solution: perfecting the science…
Big Returns from Thinking Small
Mar 29, 2017 • 30 min
By day, two leaders of Britain’s famous Nudge Unit use behavioral tricks to make better government policy. By night, they repurpose those tricks to improve their personal lives. They want to help you do the same.
“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” on the topic of Collections.
Mar 27, 2017 • 53 min
Hear live journalism wrapped in a game show package and hosted by Stephen J. Dubner. In this episode, Tim Ferriss, Eugene Mirman and Anne Pasternak are panelists. The self-help guru, the comedian and the Brooklyn Museum director talk about brainwaves,…
How Safe Is Your Job? (Rebroadcast)
Mar 22, 2017 • 33 min
Economists preach the gospel of “creative destruction,” whereby new industries — and jobs — replace the old ones. But has creative destruction become too destructive?
Why Is My Life So Hard?
Mar 15, 2017 • 30 min
Most of us feel we face more headwinds and obstacles than everyone else — which breeds resentment. We also undervalue the tailwinds that help us — which leaves us ungrateful and unhappy. How can we avoid this trap?
Chuck E. Cheese’s: Where a Kid Can Learn Price Theory
Mar 8, 2017 • 31 min
The pizza-and-gaming emporium prides itself on affordability, which means its arcade games are really cheap to play. Does that lead to kids hogging the best games — and parents starting those infamous YouTube brawls?
The Taboo Trifecta
Mar 1, 2017 • 32 min
The serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal loves to talk about the bodily functions that make most people flinch. That’s why she’s building a business around the three P’s: periods, pee, and poop.
No Hollywood Ending for the Visual-Effects Industry
Feb 22, 2017 • 55 min
In their chase for a global audience, American movie studios spend billions to make their films look amazing. But almost none of those dollars stay in America. What would it take to bring those jobs back — and would it be worth it?
Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal
Feb 15, 2017 • 37 min
What happens when a public-health researcher deep in coal country argues that mountaintop mining endangers the entire community? Hint: it doesn’t go very well.
How to Get More Grit in Your Life (Rebroadcast)
Feb 8, 2017 • 42 min
The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned. Here’s how.
An Egghead’s Guide to the Super Bowl
Feb 1, 2017 • 28 min
We assembled a panel of smart dudes — a two-time Super Bowl champ; a couple of NFL linemen, including one who’s getting a math Ph.D. at MIT; and our resident economist — to tell you what to watch for, whether you’re a football fanatic or a total newbie.
Did China Eat America’s Jobs?
Jan 25, 2017 • 38 min
For years, economists promised that global free trade would be mostly win-win. Now they admit the pace of change has been “traumatic.” This has already led to a political insurrection — so what’s next?
Is the American Dream Really Dead?
Jan 18, 2017 • 39 min
Just a few decades ago, more than 90 percent of 30-year-olds earned more than their parents had earned at the same age. Now it’s only about 50 percent. What happened — and what can be done about it?
Trevor Noah Has a Lot to Say
Jan 11, 2017 • 35 min
The Daily Show host grew up as a poor, mixed-race South African kid going to three churches every Sunday. So he has a sui generis view of America — especially on race, politics, and religion — and he’s not afraid to speak his mind.
The Men Who Started a Thinking Revolution
Jan 4, 2017 • 35 min
Starting in the late 1960s, the Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky and Danny Kahneman began to redefine how the human mind actually works. Michael Lewis’s new book The Undoing Project explains how the movement they started — now known as behavioral…
How to Become Great at Just About Anything (Rebroadcast)
Dec 28, 2016 • 50 min
What if the thing we call “talent” is grotesquely overrated? And what if deliberate practice is the secret to excellence? Those are the claims of the research psychologist Anders Ericsson, who has been studying the science of expertise for decades. He…
How to Be More Productive (Rebroadcast)
Dec 21, 2016 • 39 min
In this busy time of year, we could all use some tips on how to get more done in less time. First, however, a warning: there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis
Dec 14, 2016 • 48 min
By some estimates, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. How can that be? And what’s to be done? Our third and final episode in this series offers some encouraging answers.
Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations
Dec 7, 2016 • 45 min
How do so many ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market? One reason is that clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who aren’t representative of a larger population. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing worse than being…
Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6
Nov 30, 2016 • 44 min
We tend to think of medicine as a science, but for most of human history it has been scientific-ish at best. In the first episode of a three-part series, we look at the grotesque mistakes produced by centuries of trial-and-error, and ask whether the new…
The No-Tipping Point (Rebroadcast)
Nov 23, 2016 • 44 min
The restaurant business model is warped: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant…
How to Make a Bad Decision
Nov 16, 2016 • 35 min
Some of our most important decisions are shaped by something as random as the order in which we make them. The gambler’s fallacy, as it’s known, affects loan officers, federal judges — and probably you too. How to avoid it? The first step is to admit just…
Introducing Stephen J. Dubner’s new podcast, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”
Nov 14, 2016 • 54 min
“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” is a live game show hosted by Stephen J. Dubner of “Freakonomics Radio.” He has always had a mission: to tell you the things you thought you knew but didn’t, and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do. Now,…
Trust Me
Nov 10, 2016 • 27 min
Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?
How Much Does the President Really Matter? (Rebroadcast)
Nov 9, 2016 • 33 min
The U.S. president is often called the “leader of free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership,…
The White House Gets Into the Nudge Business
Nov 2, 2016 • 42 min
A tiny behavioral-sciences startup is trying to improve the way federal agencies do their work. Considering the size (and habits) of most federal agencies, this isn’t so simple. But after a series of early victories — and a helpful executive order from…
In Praise of Incrementalism
Oct 26, 2016 • 48 min
What do Renaissance painting, civil-rights movements, and Olympic cycling have in common? In each case, huge breakthroughs came from taking tiny steps. In a world where everyone is looking for the next moonshot, we shouldn’t ignore the power of…
In Praise of Maintenance
Oct 19, 2016 • 41 min
Has our culture’s obsession with innovation led us to neglect the fact that things also need to be taken care of?
This Is Your Brain on Podcasts
Oct 12, 2016 • 45 min
Neuroscientists still have a great deal to learn about the human brain. One recent MRI study sheds some light, finding that a certain kind of storytelling stimulates enormous activity across broad swaths of the brain. The takeaway is obvious: you should…
How To Win A Nobel Prize (Rebroadcast)
Oct 5, 2016 • 44 min
The process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off at least a little bit.
Why Are We Still Using Cash?
Sep 28, 2016 • 42 min
It facilitates crime, bribery, and tax evasion — and yet some governments (including ours) are printing more cash than ever. Other countries, meanwhile, are ditching cash entirely. And if Star Trek is right, we won’t have money of any sort in the 24th…
Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?
Sep 21, 2016 • 47 min
Sure, we all pay lip service to the Madisonian system of checks and balances. But as one legal scholar argues, presidents have been running roughshod over the system for decades. The result? An accumulation of power that’s turned the presidency into a…
Ten Signs You Might Be a Libertarian
Sep 14, 2016 • 50 min
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, likes to say that most Americans are libertarians but don’t know it yet. So why can’t Libertarians (and other third parties) gain more political traction?
Why Uber Is an Economist’s Dream
Sep 7, 2016 • 39 min
To you, it’s just a ride-sharing app that gets you where you’re going. But to an economist, Uber is a massive repository of moment-by-moment data that is helping answer some of the field’s most elusive questions.
The Future (Probably) Isn’t as Scary as You Think
Aug 31, 2016 • 34 min
Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly tries to predict the future by identifying what’s truly inevitable. How worried should we be? Yes, robots will probably take your job — but the future will still be pretty great.
Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset? (Rebroadcast)
Aug 24, 2016 • 37 min
The gist: we spend billions on end-of-life healthcare that doesn’t do much good. So what if a patient could forego the standard treatment and get a cash rebate instead?
Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush (Rebroadcast)
Aug 17, 2016 • 31 min
The comedian, actor — and now, author — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.
What Are You Waiting For?
Aug 10, 2016 • 34 min
Standing in line represents a particularly sloppy - and frustrating - way for supply and demand to meet. Why haven’t we found a better way to get what we want? Is it possible that we secretly enjoy waiting in line? And might it even be (gulp) good for us?
Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees? (Rebroadcast)
Aug 3, 2016 • 51 min
We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?
Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten
Jul 27, 2016 • 44 min
We Americans may love our democracy — at least in theory — but at the moment our feelings toward the federal government lie somewhere between disdain and hatred. Which electoral and political ideas should be killed off to make way for a saner system?
What Are Gender Barriers Made Of?
Jul 20, 2016 • 36 min
Overt discrimination in the labor markets may be on the wane, but women are still subtly penalized by all sorts of societal conventions. How can those penalties be removed without burning down the house?
Is the Internet Being Ruined?
Jul 13, 2016 • 47 min
It’s a remarkable ecosystem that allows each of us to exercise control over our lives. But how much control do we truly have? How many of our decisions are really being made by Google and Facebook and Apple? And, perhaps most importantly: is the…
Confessions of a Pothole Politician
Jul 6, 2016 • 43 min
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has big ambitions but knows he must first master the small stuff. He’s also a polymath who relies heavily on data and new technologies. Could this be what modern politics is supposed to look like?
The Suicide Paradox (Rebroadcast)
Jun 29, 2016 • 57 min
There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises.
How Much Does the President Really Matter? (Rebroadcast)
Jun 22, 2016 • 33 min
The U.S. president is often called the “leader of free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership,…
Why Do We Really Follow the News? (Rebroadcast)
Jun 15, 2016 • 35 min
There are all kinds of civics-class answers to that question. But how true are they? Could it be that we like to read about war, politics, and miscellaneous heartbreak simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?
Are We in a Mattress-Store Bubble?
Jun 8, 2016 • 34 min
You’ve seen them — everywhere! — and often clustered together, as if central planners across America decided that what every city really needs is a Mattress District. There are now dozens of online rivals too. Why are there so many stores selling…
Why Does Everyone Hate Flying? And Other Questions Only a Pilot Can Answer
Jun 1, 2016 • 43 min
Patrick Smith, the author of Cockpit Confidential, answers every question we can throw at him about what really happens up in the air. Just don’t get him started on pilotless planes — or whether the autopilot is actually doing the flying.
The Longest Long Shot
May 25, 2016 • 42 min
When the uncelebrated Leicester City Football Club won the English Premier League, it wasn’t just the biggest underdog story in recent history. It was a sign of changing economics — and that other impossible, wonderful events might be lurking just around…
How to Be Tim Ferriss
May 18, 2016 • 41 min
Our Self-Improvement Month concludes with a man whose entire life and career are one big pile of self-improvement. Nutrition? Check. Bizarre physical activities? Check. Working less and earning more? Check. Tim Ferriss, creator of the Four-Hour universe,…
How to Win Games and Beat People
May 11, 2016 • 52 min
Games are as old as civilization itself, and some people think they have huge social value regardless of whether you win or lose. Tom Whipple is not one of those people. That’s why he consulted an army of preposterously overqualified experts to find the…
How to Get More Grit in Your Life
May 4, 2016 • 44 min
The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned. Here’s how.
Being Malcolm Gladwell
May 1, 2016 • 28 min
“Books are a pain in the ass,” says Gladwell, who has written some of the most popular, influential, and beloved non-fiction books in recent history. In this wide-ranging and candid conversation, he describes other pains in the ass — as well as his…
How to Become Great at Just About Anything
Apr 27, 2016 • 51 min
What if the thing we call “talent” is grotesquely overrated? And what if deliberate practice is the secret to excellence? Those are the claims of the research psychologist Anders Ericsson, who has been studying the science of expertise for decades. He…
How to Be More Productive
Apr 20, 2016 • 38 min
It’s Self-Improvement Month at Freakonomics Radio. We begin with a topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind: how to get more done in less time. First, however, a warning: there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?
Apr 13, 2016 • 36 min
A lot of full-time jobs in the modern economy simply don’t pay a living wage. And even those jobs may be obliterated by new technologies. What’s to be done so that financially vulnerable people aren’t just crushed? It may finally be time for an idea that…
Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say?
Apr 6, 2016 • 49 min
Critics — including President Obama — say short-term, high-interest loans are predatory, trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt. But some economists see them as a useful financial instrument for people who need them. As the Consumer Financial Protection…
The Economics of Sleep, Part 2 (Rebroadcast)
Mar 30, 2016 • 42 min
People who sleep better earn more money. Now all we have to do is teach everyone to sleep better.
The Economics of Sleep, Part 1 (Rebroadcast)
Mar 23, 2016 • 45 min
Could a lack of sleep help explain why some people get much sicker than others?
Yes, the American Economy Is in a Funk — But Not for the Reasons You Think
Mar 16, 2016 • 33 min
As sexy as the digital revolution may be, it can’t compare to the Second Industrial Revolution (electricity! the gas engine! antibiotics!), which created the biggest standard-of-living boost in U.S. history. The only problem, argues the economist Robert…
The No-Tipping Point
Mar 10, 2016 • 43 min
The restaurant business model is warped: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant…
The United States of Cory Booker
Mar 2, 2016 • 39 min
The junior U.S. Senator from New Jersey thinks bipartisanship is right around the corner. Is he just an idealistic newbie or does he see a way forward that everyone else has missed?
Ask Not What Your Podcast Can Do for You
Feb 24, 2016 • 41 min
Now and again, Freakonomics Radio puts hat in hand and asks listeners to donate to the public-radio station that produces the show. Why on earth should anyone pay good money for something that can be had for free? Here are a few reasons.
How Can This Possibly Be True?
Feb 17, 2016 • 40 min
A famous economics essay features a pencil (yes, a pencil) arguing that “not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.” Is the pencil just bragging? In any case, what can the pencil teach us about our global interdependence — and the…
Who Needs Handwriting?
Feb 10, 2016 • 39 min
The digital age is making pen and paper seem obsolete. But what are we giving up if we give up on handwriting?
How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps (Rebroadcast)
Feb 3, 2016 • 29 min
Okay, maybe the steps aren’t so easy. But a program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble.
Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem? (Rebroadcast)
Jan 27, 2016 • 36 min
If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it?
Do Boycotts Work?
Jan 20, 2016 • 37 min
The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the South African divestment campaign, Chick-fil-A! Almost anyone can launch a boycott, and the media loves to cover them. But do boycotts actually produce the change they’re fighting for?
How to Be Less Terrible at Predicting the Future
Jan 13, 2016 • 46 min
Experts and pundits are notoriously bad at forecasting, in part because they aren’t punished for bad predictions. Also, they tend to be deeply unscientific. The psychologist Philip Tetlock is finally turning prediction into a science — and now even you…
The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap
Jan 6, 2016 • 43 min
Discrimination can’t explain why women earn so much less than men. If only it were that easy.
When Willpower Isn’t Enough (Rebroadcast)
Dec 30, 2015 • 30 min
Sure, we all want to make good personal decisions, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s where “temptation bundling” comes in.
Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition (Rebroadcast)
Dec 23, 2015 • 41 min
A team of economists has been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.
Is Migration a Basic Human Right?
Dec 16, 2015 • 60 min
The argument for open borders is compelling — and deeply problematic.
The Cheeseburger Diet
Dec 9, 2015 • 32 min
One woman’s quest to find the best burger in town can teach all of us to eat smarter.
Ben Bernanke Gives Himself a Grade
Dec 2, 2015 • 47 min
He was handed the keys to the global economy just as it started heading off a cliff. Fortunately, he’d seen this movie before.
Why Do People Keep Having Children? (Rebroadcast)
Nov 25, 2015 • 40 min
Even a brutal natural disaster doesn’t diminish our appetite for procreating. This surely means we’re heading toward massive overpopulation, right? Probably not.
Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late?
Nov 18, 2015 • 45 min
In our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.
Should Everyone Be in a Rock Band?
Nov 11, 2015 • 45 min
Lessons from Tom Petty’s rise and another rocker’s fall.
Food + Science = Victory
Nov 4, 2015 • 38 min
A kitchen wizard and a nutrition detective talk about the perfect hamburger, getting the most out of garlic, and why you should use vodka in just about everything.
Am I Boring You?
Oct 28, 2015 • 39 min
Researchers are trying to figure out who gets bored - and why - and what it means for ourselves and the economy. But maybe there’s an upside to boredom?
How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying (Rebroadcast)
Oct 21, 2015 • 36 min
Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t?
How To Win A Nobel Prize
Oct 14, 2015 • 45 min
The process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off at least a little bit.
Should Kids Pay Back Their Parents for Raising Them?
Oct 7, 2015 • 47 min
When one athlete turned pro, his mom asked him for $1 million. Our modern sensibilities tell us she doesn’t have a case. But should she?
Meet the Woman Who Said Women Can’t Have It All
Sep 30, 2015 • 42 min
Anne-Marie Slaughter was best known for her adamant views on Syria when she accidentally became a poster girl for modern feminism. As it turns out, she can be pretty adamant in that realm as well.
How Did the Belt Win?
Sep 23, 2015 • 30 min
Suspenders may work better, but the dork factor is too high. How did an organ-squeezing belly tourniquet become part of our everyday wardrobe — and what other suboptimal solutions do we routinely put up with?
“I Don’t Know What You’ve Done With My Husband, But He’s a Changed Man.”
Sep 16, 2015 • 46 min
From domestic abusers to former child soldiers, there is increasing evidence that behavioral therapy can turn them around.
Preventing Crime for Pennies on the Dollar
Sep 9, 2015 • 41 min
Conventional programs tend to be expensive, onerous, and ineffective. Could something as simple (and cheap) as cognitive behavioral therapy do the trick?
The Harvard President Will See You Now
Sep 2, 2015 • 38 min
How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world.
Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset?
Aug 26, 2015 • 36 min
We spend billions on end-of-life healthcare that doesn’t do much good. So what if a patient could forego the standard treatment and get a cash rebate instead?
How to Make a Smart TV Ad
Aug 19, 2015 • 30 min
Step 1: Hire a Harvard psych professor as the pitchman. Step 2: Have him help write the script …
The Dangers of Safety (Rebroadcast)
Aug 12, 2015 • 30 min
What do NASCAR drivers, Glenn Beck and the hit men of the NFL have in common?
Why Do We Really Follow the News?
Aug 5, 2015 • 35 min
There are all kinds of civics-class answers to that question. But how true are they? Could it be that we like to read about war, politics, and miscellaneous heartbreak simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?
How to Create Suspense
Jul 29, 2015 • 39 min
Why is soccer the best sport? How has Harlan Coben sold 70 million books? And why does “Apollo 13” keep you enthralled even when you know the ending?
Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush
Jul 22, 2015 • 32 min
The comedian, actor — and now, author — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions
The Economics of Sleep, Part 2
Jul 15, 2015 • 43 min
People who sleep better earn more money. Now all we have to do is teach everyone to sleep better.
The Economics of Sleep, Part 1
Jul 8, 2015 • 44 min
Could a lack of sleep help explain why some people get much sicker than others?
A Better Way to Eat (Rebroadcast)
Jul 1, 2015 • 28 min
Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?
Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees?
Jun 24, 2015 • 52 min
We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?
Make Me a Match
Jun 17, 2015 • 50 min
Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Al Roth.
Making Sex Offenders Pay — and Pay and Pay and Pay
Jun 10, 2015 • 35 min
Sure, sex crimes are horrific, and the perpetrators deserve to be punished harshly. But society keeps exacting costs — out-of-pocket and otherwise — long after the prison sentence has been served.
Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?
Jun 3, 2015 • 54 min
One man’s attempt to remake his life in the mold of homo economicus.
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know (Rebroadcast)
May 27, 2015 • 62 min
The debut of a live game show from Freakonomics Radio, with judges Malcolm Gladwell, Ana Gasteyer, and David Paterson.
Failure Is Your Friend (Rebroadcast)
May 20, 2015 • 31 min
In which we argue that failure should not only be tolerated but celebrated.
Ten Years of Freakonomics
May 13, 2015 • 46 min
Dubner and Levitt are live onstage at the 92nd Street Y in New York to celebrate their new book “When to Rob a Bank” — and a decade of working together.
Could the Next Brooklyn Be … Las Vegas?!
May 6, 2015 • 55 min
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has a wild vision and the dollars to try to make it real. But it still might be the biggest gamble in town.
Think Like a Child (Rebroadcast)
Apr 29, 2015 • 29 min
When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an eight year old.
Nate Silver Says: “Everyone Is Kind of Weird”
Apr 22, 2015 • 39 min
America’s favorite statistical guru answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions, and more.
Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend
Apr 16, 2015 • 40 min
It may seem like winning a valuable diamond is an unalloyed victory. It’s not. It’s not even clear that a diamond is so valuable.
How Many Doctors Does It Take to Start a Healthcare Revolution?
Apr 9, 2015 • 53 min
The practice of medicine has been subsumed by the business of medicine. This is great news for healthcare shareholders — and bad news for pretty much everyone else.
How Do We Know What Really Works in Healthcare?
Apr 2, 2015 • 41 min
A lot of the conventional wisdom in medicine is nothing more than hunch or wishful thinking. A new breed of data detectives is hoping to change that.
The Perfect Crime (Rebroadcast)
Mar 26, 2015 • 29 min
If you are driving and kill a pedestrian, there’s a good chance you’ll barely be punished. Why?
What You Don’t Know About Online Dating (Rebroadcast)
Mar 19, 2015 • 40 min
Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility.
When Willpower Isn’t Enough
Mar 12, 2015 • 33 min
Sure, we all want to make good personal decisions, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s where “temptation bundling” comes in.
This Idea Must Die
Mar 5, 2015 • 54 min
Every year, Edge.org asks its salon of big thinkers to answer one big question. This year’s question borders on heresy: what scientific idea is ready for retirement?
The Maddest Men of All
Feb 26, 2015 • 32 min
Advertisers have always been adept at manipulating our emotions. Now they’re using behavioral economics to get even better.
Hacking the World Bank
Feb 19, 2015 • 36 min
Jim Yong Kim has an unorthodox background for a World Bank president — and his reign thus far is just as unorthodox.
Is There a Better Way to Fight Terrorism?
Feb 12, 2015 • 42 min
The White House is hosting an anti-terror summit next week. Summits being what they are, we try to offer some useful advice.
How Efficient Is Energy Efficiency?
Feb 5, 2015 • 32 min
It’s a centerpiece of U.S. climate policy and a sacred cow among environmentalists. Does it work?
How Safe Is Your Job?
Jan 29, 2015 • 33 min
Economists preach the gospel of “creative destruction,” whereby new industries — and jobs — replace the old ones. But has creative destruction become too destructive?
Someone Else’s Acid Trip
Jan 22, 2015 • 29 min
As Kevin Kelly tells it, the hippie revolution and the computer revolution are nearly one and the same.
That’s a Great Question!
Jan 15, 2015 • 25 min
Verbal tic or strategic rejoinder? Whatever the case: it’s rare to come across an interview these days where at least one question isn’t a “great” one.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Get the Flu Vaccine?
Jan 8, 2015 • 36 min
Influenza kills, but you’d never know it by how few of us get the vaccine.
What’s the “Best” Exercise? (Rebroadcast)
Jan 1, 2015 • 15 min
Most people blame lack of time for being out of shape. So maybe the solution is to exercise more efficiently.
What’s More Dangerous: Marijuana or Alcohol? (Rebroadcast)
Dec 25, 2014 • 25 min
Imagine that both substances were undiscovered until today. How would we think about their relative risks?
Time to Take Back the Toilet
Dec 18, 2014 • 34 min
Public bathrooms are noisy, poorly designed, and often nonexistent. What to do?
The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat (Rebroadcast)
Dec 11, 2014 • 44 min
We spend billions on our pets, and one of the fastest-growing costs is pet “aftercare.” But are those cremated remains you got back really from your pet?
How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps
Dec 4, 2014 • 29 min
Okay, maybe the steps aren’t so easy. But a program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble.
Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?
Nov 27, 2014 • 34 min
If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it?
The Man Who Would Be Everything
Nov 20, 2014 • 27 min
Boris Johnson — mayor of London, biographer of Churchill, cheese-box painter and tennis-racket collector — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.
Why Do People Keep Having Children?
Nov 13, 2014 • 38 min
Even a brutal natural disaster doesn’t diminish our appetite for procreating. This surely means we’re heading toward massive overpopulation, right? Probably not.
Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico?
Nov 6, 2014 • 55 min
Corporations around the world are consolidating like never before. If it’s good enough for companies, why not countries? Welcome to Amexico!
What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics?
Oct 30, 2014 • 24 min
A lot! “The Economics of the Undead” is a book about dating strategy, job creation, and whether there should be a legal market for blood.
“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”
Oct 23, 2014 • 62 min
The debut of a live game show from Freakonomics Radio, with judges Malcolm Gladwell, Ana Gasteyer, and David Paterson.
How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas?
Oct 16, 2014 • 36 min
The Norwegian government parleys massive oil wealth into huge subsidies for electric cars. Is that carbon laundering or just pragmatic environmentalism?
How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten (Rebroadcast)
Oct 9, 2014 • 33 min
The science of what works — and doesn’t work — in fund-raising
Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition
Oct 2, 2014 • 41 min
A team of economists has been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.
Fitness Apartheid
Sep 25, 2014 • 30 min
Markets are hardly perfect, but the results can be ugly when you try to subvert them.
Outsiders by Design
Sep 18, 2014 • 40 min
What does it mean to pursue something that everyone else thinks is nuts? And what does it take to succeed?
How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying
Sep 11, 2014 • 33 min
Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t?
Regulate This!
Sep 4, 2014 • 56 min
Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, EatWith, and other companies in the “sharing economy” are practically daring government regulators to shut them down. The regulators are happy to comply.
Who Runs the Internet? (Rebroadcast)
Aug 28, 2014 • 32 min
The online universe doesn’t have nearly as many rules, or rulemakers, as the real world. Discuss.
Parking Is Hell (Rebroadcast)
Aug 21, 2014 • 35 min
There ain’t no such thing as a free parking spot. Somebody has to pay for it — and that somebody is everybody.
What Do Medieval Nuns and Bo Jackson Have in Common? (Rebroadcast)
Aug 14, 2014 • 39 min
A look at whether spite pays — and if it even exists.
Should Tipping be Banned? (Rebroadcast)
Aug 7, 2014 • 37 min
It’s awkward, random, confusing — and probably discriminatory too.
How Much Does Your Name Matter? (Rebroadcast)
Jul 31, 2014 • 52 min
A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?
Does Religion Make You Happy?
Jul 24, 2014 • 28 min
It’s a hard question to answer, but we do our best.
Why You Should Bribe Your Kids
Jul 17, 2014 • 27 min
Educational messaging looks good on paper but kids don’t respond to it — and adults aren’t much better.
What Do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common?
Jul 10, 2014 • 33 min
It isn’t easy to separate the guilty from the innocent, but a clever bit of game theory can help.
A Better Way to Eat
Jul 3, 2014 • 26 min
Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?
How to Screen Job Applicants, Act Your Age, and Get Your Brain Off Autopilot
Jun 26, 2014 • 25 min
Dubner and Levitt answer reader questions in this first installment of the “Think Like a Freak” Book Club.
There’s No Such Thing as a Free Appetizer
Jun 19, 2014 • 36 min
Is it really in a restaurant’s best interest to give customers free bread or chips before they even order?
Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet)
Jun 12, 2014 • 37 min
Every four years, the U.S. takes a look at the World Cup and develops a slight crush. What would it take to really fall in love?
Failure Is Your Friend
Jun 5, 2014 • 31 min
In which we argue that failure should not only be tolerated but celebrated.
The Upside of Quitting (Rebroadcast)
May 29, 2014 • 58 min
You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?
Think Like a Child
May 22, 2014 • 28 min
When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an eight year old.
The Three Hardest Words in the English Language
May 15, 2014 • 28 min
Why learning to say “I don’t know” is one of the best things you can do.
How to Think Like a Freak — and Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions
May 8, 2014 • 27 min
Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt talk about their new book and field questions about prestige, university life, and (yum yum) bacon.
The Perfect Crime
May 1, 2014 • 28 min
If you are driving and kill a pedestrian, there’s a good chance you’ll barely be punished. Why?
Which Came First, the Chicken or the Avocado?
Apr 24, 2014 • 29 min
When it comes to exercising outrage, people tend to be very selective. Could it be that humans are our least favorite animal?
What’s More Dangerous: Marijuana or Alcohol?
Apr 17, 2014 • 24 min
Imagine that both substances were undiscovered until today. How would we think about their relative risks?
“If Mayors Ruled the World”
Apr 10, 2014 • 31 min
Unlike certain elected officials in Washington, mayors all over the country actually get stuff done. So maybe we should ask them to do more?
How to Make People Quit Smoking
Apr 3, 2014 • 32 min
The war on cigarettes has been fairly successful in some places. But 1 billion humans still smoke — so what comes next?
Why Everybody Who Doesn’t Hate Bitcoin Loves It
Mar 27, 2014 • 35 min
Thinking of Bitcoin as just a digital currency is like thinking about the Internet as just e-mail. Its potential is much more exciting than that.
Women Are Not Men (Rebroadcast)
Mar 20, 2014 • 37 min
In many ways, the gender gap is closing. In others, not so much. And that’s not always a bad thing.
“It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana”
Mar 13, 2014 • 22 min
A psychology professor argues that the brain’s greatest attribute is knowing what other people are thinking. And that a Queen song, played backwards, can improve your mind-reading skills.
Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?
Mar 6, 2014 • 21 min
Yes, it expands the mind but we usually don’t retain much — and then there’s the opportunity cost.
Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?
Feb 27, 2014 • 23 min
In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. We’ll tell you why.
Why Marry? (Part 2)
Feb 20, 2014 • 23 min
The consequences of our low marriage rate — and if the old model is less attractive, how about a new one?
Why Marry? (Part 1)
Feb 13, 2014 • 19 min
The myths of modern marriage.
What You Don’t Know About Online Dating
Feb 6, 2014 • 35 min
Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility. This episode is included in the Freakonomics #smartbinge podcast playlist at wnyc.org/smartbinge
Reasons to Not Be Ugly
Jan 30, 2014 • 25 min
The “beauty premium” is real, for everyone from babies to NFL quarterbacks.
Everybody Gossips (and That’s a Good Thing)
Jan 23, 2014 • 35 min
The benefits of rumor-mongering
Fear Thy Nature (Rebroadcast)
Jan 16, 2014 • 37 min
What “Sleep No More” and the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about who we really are.