Bring Your Questions for a Freakonomics Radio FAQ

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A couple times a year, we take reader/listener questions for an FAQ (FREAK-quently Asked Questions) episode of our podcast. We’ll likely put out next FAQ in mid-April, so ask us your questions in the comments section below. Thanks.

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  1. Bill R says:

    I hope I’ve found the correct web location to send in a question. I was wondering if there is a Freakonomics spin on the “Where’s George” phenomenon where $1 bills distribution is tracked via a web site.
    \
    Just in case you’re not aware of this, groups of people stamp their $1 with a stamp identifying the bill that it can be tracked and each follower then enters the unique ID stamped on each bill.

    So how about it, what can an inquiring freak glean from this data set?

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  2. Mark Greer says:

    I would love to know the positive and adverse affects that speeding traps have on a local community. Are speeding traps setting us back, or do they improve our standard of living?

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  3. Caleb B says:

    In all your statistical analysis to identify cheating AND experience with horse racing. Given the large amounts of money involved, but relatively few jockeys/owners/trainers, do you think some Triple Crown horse races are fixed?

    I think specifically of a 50-1 horse, Mine That Bird, that ran a time faster than came from dead last to pass the entire field on a sloppy track. The horse never won a race before the KD and never won a race after.

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    • Caleb B says:

      Edit: the horse ran faster than some recent prior winners but on a sloppy track AND came from dead last to pass the entire field (which conveniently left a nice opening along the rail).

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  4. Steve Adema says:

    Q: Is there a hidden cost to intelligence?

    I feel a lot of people assume(wrongly?) there is a trade-off between intellectual and social ability. Certainly, Hollywood seems to have jumped on board with the stereotype (Sheldon Cooper, Urkel, Lisa Simpson, etc). I’m often eager to bring up new things I learn from the Freakonomics podcast(and others) in casual conversation. I’d like to know if intellectual individuals alienate themselves or spark interest and engagement in general when it comes to social interaction. Thanks!

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  5. Caleb B says:

    If economics strives to find statical significance, why do Econ graduate programs use bright-lines in minimum GRE scores?

    I’ve been told from an admitting professor that any GRE below the 85th percentile in math will be thrown in the trash. I can’t imagine there is that much of a difference between an 83 and an 85, so why the brightline?

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  6. Caleb B says:

    Why do university economists get paid $100k+ right out of PhD school? What value are they bringing to the university to warrant that kind of pay?

    There just aren’t many prefessions where someone under 30 can get paid $100k with any level of education (especially in low cost-of-living states in the South and Southwest regions). So why are economists so valuable?

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  7. Damon Beaven says:

    What would be the economic impact of a cheap, readily available cure for cancer?

    Here’s the basic scenario. Imagine that somehow we find a cure for cancer that involves something cheap and simple like a drinking a spinach smoothie with every meal for 5 days. We have entire industries and charities that are geared toward finding cancer cures and treatments. What would be the economic impact if those industries and charities were suddenly out of business overnight?

    One reason I ask is because I often argue that there is no clear market incentive to find a cure for cancer. Treatments are expensive and there are repeat customers. That is a nice profit model. A cure would slowly eliminate the customer base for treatment. So, other than altruism where is the incentive for a cancer cure?

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  8. Jeff MS says:

    What is your reaction to the research that links lead exposure to criminal activity? What effect, if any, does this theory have on your abortion/criminal activity connection?

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    • James says:

      But we need to insert a caveat here, which is that we don’t have accurate data on criminal activity. We only know about 1) Crimes which are detected – for instance, how many cases of embezzlement are never discovered? and 2) The people who are charged with crimes – who may or may not have been the ones who committed them.

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