Please Submit Your Nominations for a Freakonomics Hall of Fame (and Hall of Shame, Too)

We are working on a Hall of Fame project that will pay tribute to people who have used a “freakonomical” way of thinking to better the world in some way large or small. Since a lot of people have a lot of interpretations of what it means to “think like a Freak,” we will leave the criteria up to you. It may have something to do with a creative use of data, or understanding incentives, or challenging the conventional wisdom.

The person you nominate for this Hall of Fame might be prominent or totally obscure. You may know them personally or perhaps you’ve only read about them. They might work in academia, sports, medicine, philanthropy, entertainment, development — or even politics!

We have tried to feature such people on the blog over the years but now we need your help in coming up with the best pool possible. Please send this request to everyone you know!

You can nominate people in the comments section below or send us an e-mail at

We may also put together a Freakonomics Hall of Shame (here’s an example), so feel free to submit nominees for that too.

Thanks!

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  1. Diego Vázquez says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Kotter says:

      This is such a nutty thing to say. Why is redistribution of wealth a good thing, and why should this be something that ‘students’ take to the streets to accomplish? If they are students, shouldn’t they be spending their time in college (I assume you mean college students) learning how to earn their own wealth by creating value?

      We have people spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars getting a major in ‘Gender Studies’ or ‘Urban Studies’ or some other field (which probably includes the word ‘Studies’), where the main purpose is to create jobs for college professors who teach that subject, paid for subsidized student loans taken out by people who will never make enough money as a ‘(Fill-in-the-blank) Studies’ graduate to pay back these loans.

      The secondary purpose of these useless majors is, of course, to create young, perpetually outraged activists who want to, in your words, redistribute wealth that they didn’t earn.

      At some point we will run out of other people’s money, and then the ‘Gender Studies’ majors will have nothing left to do except take to the streets and, uh, whatever the Occupy folks are doing these days.

      And not to belabor the point, but most notable figure tycoons in our history who amassed truly great wealth have in the aggregate helped more far people and done more good through charitable donations than a million ‘students’ who want to take their money away.

      At some point these aggrieved youths need to use their brains to get a job or start a business and then they can redistribute their own wealth however they see fit.

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      • Kotter says:

        Oh, and apologies for the few typos. Perhaps these ‘students’ could redistribute my iPad and get me something I can type on.

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      • RPM says:

        Agreed. But let’s go a step further. Those tycoons do do some good with their charitable contributions, but their real contribution to society came as they were amassing that wealth, creating goods and services more efficiently than before, and employing people in the process.

        The computer I type this on is cheap and reliable, built by an industry that has made a bunch of people billionaires. Good for them!

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      • Mondo Bandeenie says:

        Rant @Kotter. Sorry, I know Hall of Fames comments section isn’t the appropriate place, but it’s bubbling inside me for a while!

        I agree with you to an extent, but I think the main issue the person was trying to address is income inequality. The reliable, cheap computers and iPads that you use were devised, created and marketed by very talented people who deserve to be rewarded for their work and insight. However, it would not be possible to market these products without a large low- or unskilled workforce that have never even attended college, let alone a course in “something” studies. This includes those producing the natural resources refined into plastics and metals etc, those in manufacturing, those who distribute and sell the product etc etc.

        While the mean wage has been increasing steadily over time, indicating that wealth has been increasing, the medium has been decreasing (http://www.epi.org/publication/ib330-productivity-vs-compensation). This means that in order for people to buy the things that they desire, they have to get them on credit. This results in people paying more for things that they can’t afford due to their wage being suppressed. And where do they get this credit from? The disproportionately wealthy. So yes, I agree that wealth needs to be redistributed and no, that doesn’t mean you have to give your iPad to a student, stop burning straw men.

        Sorry again, rant over.

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  2. Johanna says:

    Sarah Johnson – the reader who submitted the following query regarding the structure of Ravelry – the online knitting and crocheting social networking site. She’s AMAZING.

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/02/25/a-young-reader-asks-is-there-an-elitist-oligarchy-in-the-underworld-of-knitters/

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  3. tkw says:

    maybe not hall of fame, but possibly a subject of a freakonomics Q&A are these guys:

    http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Movies-Fun-Profit-Billion/dp/1439186766/

    in the first few pages they say that the screenwriter’s goal is NOT to write a successful script. the screenwriter’s goal is to help a studio exec not get fired. when i read that i immediately thought of freakonomics…

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  4. JJG says:

    Definitely Bill Veeck for thinking outside the box for baseball promotions, from the ill fated Disco Night to Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player to ever bat in a MLB game.
    http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Veeck-Baseballs-Greatest-Maverick/dp/0802717780

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  5. JD says:

    I nominate the fans of Cleveland professional sports. With so many years between this area and a “big win” it is increasingly difficult to field teams that win. Yet, the fans seem just as devoted as ever. Freakonomic question: Is there a point in investment (be it sports fandom or a financial stock) when something has lost SO much that a person figures the odds of a fantastic future comeback win are better than swtiching to a more reliable source of wins? If sports teams were financial stocks, it seems like most fans would be attracted to the bigger market teams with more compelling records. And maybe some are? Not sure.

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  6. Kellan says:

    I’d like to nominate the owner of Kijani Grows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=3IryIOyPfTE
    Here’s his website: http://www.kijanigrows.com/

    There’s a great discussion about his project here:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/11ydeo/this_man_deserves_more_recognition_hes_a_genius/

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  7. Mike says:

    I’m sure the Freakonomics team is well aware of him, but Dan Ariely should definitely be included.

    I’d also nominate security researcher and cryptologist Bruce Schneier.

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  8. frankenduf says:

    hall of shame for economic predictions…(drumroll/envelope)… goes to david lereah, the chief economist at the national association of realtors and the author of the 2006 best seller, “why the real estate boom will not bust and how you can profit from it”- (ironically, if u change “you” to “i”, its just a straightforward money grab)

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