Bring Us Your Blegs

It’s been a while, but let’s get back in the habit. You send us your “blegs” — that’s when you use a blog to beg for information, a solution to a tough problem, etc. — and we’ll post them here for readers to pitch in to solve your dilemmas.

Here’s an archive of past blegs; they cover everything from firefighter safety to your least favorite songs to settling a loved one’s estate without acrimony. You can leave your blegs in the comments section below or send them to bleg [at] freakonomics [dot] com . Remember, no problem is too hard (or small, or weird) for our readership!

c philpott

What is the best industry in which to gain experience or set of skills to acquire to be prepared for a lucrative future career? For example: learn Mandarin, get experience in healthcare efficiency improvement, learn air conditioner sales, etc.


Is it better for the environment, economy, psyche, for suburban families to grow food in home gardens or buy from grocery stores including Whole Foods?


I have a couple of blegs for you:

The NHL Playoffs
With the humbling of the Caps last night, I was wondering whether it really is true that teams which win easily in the first round hit trouble in the second.

Is it more likely for a team winning 4-0 to then lose 4-0 to a team who had won 4-3 previously, than say if both teams were 4-3 inthe previous round?

Women out-earning men
It is very welcome news that women under 30 are out-earning men, but what is actually happening here? It makes sense that, at last, women earn as much as men, but why the full reversal?

Rafael D.

General question on Economics/Statistics Software Packages.
I have been assigned a short econometrics research paper for my master's level course and am allowed to use any statistical software package. I want to take this opportunity to learn a new program, currently I am only familiar with Excel and SPSS. What is the most used statistical economics program for economics research companies and government agencies?

Todd Edmunds

I have always tried to instill confidence in my children believing it crucial to success in life. So here is my question, which has a greater impact on success in life; confidence or intellect? Or education for that matter.

Love your stuff (both books,the podcasts, tweets and the website!).

Todd Edmunds


Why is gasoline ~$4/gallon with oil at 105 and 2 years ago gas was the same price with oil at 140. It became more expensive to make gas? Refiners holding out? Explanations please.

Lisa Klink

I just started a job at the Red Cross teaching preparedness education. The tough part is convincing people to take action: make an emergency kit, have an evacuation plan, etc. My question for your readers is: You already know that you should be prepared in case of disaster. What would prompt you to actually do it?

Sian Robertson

Considering how few British monarchs have been Queens, rather than Kings, it seems surprising that so many of them are at or near the top of the list of the longest reignin. Not only did they live long lives but they ascended to the throne at young ages because their fathers lived shorter lives. Is there a correlation between men who have only daughters and the men's life expectancy? And if so what might the reason?


What interview questions can I ask to help weed out weird people? “Weird” meaning antisocial, incompetent, lazy, disinterested, dishonest, unprofessional, combative and disruptive. I just got out of a work situation where one superior was all of these things, and I’d love to avoid people like this in the future. She seemed normal enough when I interviewed with her. Oh also, the person is in total denial that they are like this, by the way, so outright asking them probably won’t work. These would be questions to ask in both “interviewer” and “interviewee” roles.


I am a fifth garade teacher at a Title I school. The neighborhood is mostly poverty and the vast majority of the parents are uneducated. A large number of the students I get in fifth grade come in with no critical thinking skills and very little desire for furthering their education. What are the percentages for an entire school or community breaking this chain? I am willing to do whatever is necessary for my students but as of now I am having success with some of my students and I want to expand that to the entire school. Any data, suggestions, theories, etc?


How much does traditional print advertising (magazines, mailers, newspaper inserts) really add in incremental sales? I don't remember the last time I bought something because of an ad I saw that wasn't on tv or in my inbox.

James Guzikowski

With the NFL Draft recently passing, is there anyway you can investigate whether players may be better off signing as undrafted free agents rather than, say, 7th round picks? It always seems like there's a lot more buzz for UDFA's than 7th round picks who are usually cut immediately while UDFA's are given more of a chance after signing.


Does a woman choosing a either to keep her maiden name, or a hyphenated last name have any bearing on the odds of future divorce when compared to women who take on their husband's name? No sexism or anti-feminism intended by the question, just looking for a trend which may break either way.

As a side note, what happens when two parents, each with a hyphenated last name (from birth), have a child to whom they would like to give a hyphenated name?


What's the best way, if any, to get a friend or colleague to stop engaging in declasse behavior that you know for a fact has damaged them professionally. Declasse may be the wrong word, but for the purposes of this discussion, I'll define it as behavior with two characteristics:

1. Others find the behavior disgusting, annoying and/or offensive, and
2. They will not tell you they find it disgusting, annoying and/or offensive, they'll just try to avoid you in the future