Freakonomics Friends in the News, for Better and Worse

(Digital Vision)

It was great to see some familiar names on this year’s list of MacArthur “genius” awards. They include Roland Fryer of Harvard, who has shown up many times on this blog as well as in Freakonomics and in the New York Times. His work on everything from the black-white baby-name gap to education incentives is well-deserving of MacArthur recognition, and I’m sure this is hardly the last award he’ll win. Another winner was Jad Abumrad of the wonderful radio show RadioLab. If you don’t know this show, you should. I was also very pleased to see Kevin Guskiewicz on the MacArthur list; he’s at the forefront of research into sports injuries, especially the kind of helmet-induced football injuries we’ve discussed in the past.

On the other side of the ledger is the very disturbing news that the online poker site Full Tilt Poker has been operating, in the words of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, as “a Ponzi scheme,” siphoning off customers’ money to make multi-million dollar payments to Full Tilt’s owners, who include Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Howard Lederer, and Rafe Furst, who has appeared on this blog multiple times. Yes, we live in a world of presumed innocence; but this Journal article and the lawsuit highlights don’t paint a pretty picture. FWIW, here’s Rafe’s public response.


Mike B

I love how the general response from Full Tilt poker has been along the lines of explaining how this isn't a Ponzi scheme because those involve the promise of unrealistic investment returns when this just involves the disappearance of $400 million in escrow funds. Yeah government, how dare you paint a business as a Pzoni scheme when all they are doing is committing fraud.

Congrads to the winners there and also congrads to Freakonomics for picking up its first commentator who is running a Ponzi-related scheme. That sounds like a wonderful topic for a betting pool, how many Freakonomicists will end up behind bars in 10 years time.