Why Does Tipping Still Exist? (Ep. 396)

It’s an acutely haphazard way of paying workers, and yet it keeps expanding. We dig into the data to find out why.

Speak Softly and Carry Big Data (Ep. 395)

Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can help answer all these questions — and make better foreign-policy decisions. Guests include former Department of Defense officials Chuck Hagel and Michèle Flournoy and Chicago Project on Security and Threats researchers Robert Pape and Paul Poast. Recorded live in Chicago; Steve Levitt is co-host.

Does Hollywood Still Have a Princess Problem? (Ep. 394)

For decades, there’s been a huge gender disparity both on-screen and behind the scenes. But it seems like cold, hard data — with an assist from the actor Geena Davis — may finally be moving the needle.

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07 15 2008

What Makes a Singer “Good?”

A recent study found that most amateur singers can carry a tune just as accurately as trained professionals, suggesting that singing may be as universal a human trait as talking. But good pitch doesn't always mean good music -- Bob Dylan, for example, seems to have gotten along just fine without perfect...

Can Britain Get Its “Great” Back? (Ep. 393)

It used to be a global capital of innovation, invention, and exploration. Now it’s best known for its messy European divorce. We visit London to see if the British spirit of discovery is still alive. Guests include the mayor of London, undersea explorers, a time-use researcher, and a theoretical physicist who helped Liverpool win the Champions League. Dan Schreiber from No Such Thing as a Fish rides shotgun.

The Prime Minister Who Cried Brexit (Ep. 392)

In 2016, David Cameron held a referendum on whether the U.K. should stay in the European Union. A longtime Euroskeptic, he nevertheless led the Remain campaign. So what did Cameron really want? We ask him that and much more — including why he left office as soon as his side lost and what he’d do differently if given another chance. (Hint: not much.)

America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up (Ep. 391)

Most high-school math classes are still preparing students for the Sputnik era. Steve Levitt wants to get rid of the “geometry sandwich” and instead have kids learn what they really need in the modern era: data fluency.

Fed Up (Ep. 390)

Mary Daly rose from high-school dropout to president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She thinks the central bank needs an upgrade too. It starts with recognizing that the economy is made up of actual humans.

How to Make Meetings Less Terrible (Ep. 389)

In the U.S. alone, we hold 55 million meetings a day. Most of them are woefully unproductive, and tyrannize our offices. The revolution begins now — with better agendas, smaller invite lists, and an embrace of healthy conflict.

Yes, the Open Office Is Terrible — But It Doesn’t Have to Be (Ep. 358 Rebroadcast)

It began as a post-war dream for a more collaborative and egalitarian workplace. It has evolved into a nightmare of noise and discomfort. Can the open office be saved, or should we all just be working from home?

The Economics of Sports Gambling (Ep. 388)

What happens when tens of millions of fantasy-sports players are suddenly able to bet real money on real games? We’re about to find out. A recent Supreme Court decision has cleared the way to bring an estimated $300 billion in black-market sports betting into the light. We sort out the winners and losers.

The Future of Meat (Ep. 367 Rebroadcast)

Global demand for beef, chicken, and pork continues to rise. So do concerns about environmental and other costs. Will reconciling these two forces be possible — or, even better, Impossible™?