Freakonomics Radio is an award-winning weekly podcast (subscribe here!) with 7 million downloads a month; it also airs on public-radio stations across the country. Host Stephen Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt. Freakonomics Radio is produced by Dubner Productions and WNYC Studios.

EPISODE   DATE LENGTH
267 Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6
We tend to think of medicine as a science, but for most of human history it has been scientific-ish at best. In the first episode of a three-part series, we look at the grotesque mistakes produced by centuries of trial-and-error, and ask whether the new era of evidence-based medicine is the solution.
12/1/16 44:55
REBROADCAST: The No-Tipping Point
The restaurant business model is warped: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.
11/24/16 44:26
266 How to Make a Bad Decision
Some of our most important decisions are shaped by something as random as the order in which we make them. The gambler’s fallacy, as it’s known, affects loan officers, federal judges — and probably you too. How to avoid it? The first step is to admit just how fallible we all are.
11/17/16 35:41
265 Trust Me
Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?
11/10/16 27:42
264 The White House Gets Into the Nudge Business
A tiny behavioral-sciences startup is trying to improve the way federal agencies do their work. Considering the size (and habits) of most federal agencies, this isn’t so simple. But after a series of early victories — and a helpful executive order from President Obama — they are well on their way.
11/3/16 42:14
263 In Praise of Incrementalism
What do Renaissance painting, civil-rights movements, and Olympic cycling have in common? In each case, huge breakthroughs came from taking tiny steps. In a world where everyone is looking for the next moonshot, we shouldn’t ignore the power of incrementalism.
10/27/16 48:29
262 In Praise of Maintenance
Has our culture’s obsession with innovation led us to neglect the fact that things also need to be taken care of?
10/20/16 41:41
261 This Is Your Brain on Podcasts
Neuroscientists still have a great deal to learn about the human brain. One recent MRI study sheds some light, finding that a certain kind of storytelling stimulates enormous activity across broad swaths of the brain. The takeaway is obvious: you should be listening to even more podcasts.
10/13/16 45:19
REBROADCAST: How To Win A Nobel Prize
The gist: the Nobel selection process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off, at least a little bit.
10/6/16 44:32
260 Why Are We Still Using Cash?
It facilitates crime, bribery, and tax evasion – and yet some governments (including ours) are printing more cash than ever. Other countries, meanwhile, are ditching cash entirely. And if Star Trek is right, we won’t have money of any sort in the 24th century.
9/29/16 42:59
259 Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?
Sure, we all pay lip service to the Madisonian system of checks and balances. But as one legal scholar argues, presidents have been running roughshod over the system for decades. The result? An accumulation of power that’s turned the presidency into a position the Founders wouldn’t have recognized.
9/22/16 47:43
258 Ten Signs You Might Be a Libertarian
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, likes to say that most Americans are libertarians but don’t know it yet. So why can’t Libertarians (and other third parties) gain more political traction?
9/15/16 50:38
257 Why Uber Is an Economist’s Dream
To you, it’s just a ride-sharing app that gets you where you’re going. But to an economist, Uber is a massive repository of moment-by-moment data that is helping answer some of the field’s most elusive questions.
9/8/16 39:47
256 The Future (Probably) Isn’t as Scary as You Think
Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly tries to predict the future by identifying what’s truly inevitable. How worried should we be? Yes, robots will probably take your job — but the future will still be pretty great.
9/1/16 34:58
REBROADCAST: Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset?
The gist: we spend billions on end-of-life healthcare that doesn’t do much good. So what if a patient could forego the standard treatment and get a cash rebate instead?
8/25/16 37:46
REBROADCAST: Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush
The comedian, actor — and now, author — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.
8/18/16 31:25
255 What Are You Waiting For?
Standing in line represents a particularly sloppy — and frustrating — way for supply and demand to meet. Why haven’t we found a better way to get what we want? Is it possible that we secretly enjoy waiting in line? And might it even be (gulp) good for us?
8/11/16 35:53
REBROADCAST: Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees?
We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?
8/4/16 51:55
254 Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten
We Americans may love our democracy — at least in theory — but at the moment our feelings toward the Federal government lie somewhere between disdain and hatred. Which electoral and political ideas should be killed off to make way for a saner system?
7/28/16 44:48
253 What Are Gender Barriers Made Of?
Overt discrimination in the labor markets may be on the wane, but women are still subtly penalized by all sorts of societal conventions. How can those penalties be removed without burning down the house?
7/21/16 36:29
252 Is the Internet Being Ruined?
It’s a remarkable ecosystem that allows each of us to exercise control over our lives. But how much control do we truly have? How many of our decisions are really being made by Google and Facebook and Apple? And, perhaps most importantly: is the Internet’s true potential being squandered?
7/14/16 47:54
251 Confessions of a Pothole Politician
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has big ambitions but knows he must first master the small stuff. He’s also a polymath who relies heavily on data and new technologies. Could this be what modern politics is supposed to look like?
7/7/16 43:44
REBROADCAST: The Suicide Paradox
There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises.
6/30/16 57:22
REBROADCAST: How Much Does the President Really Matter?
The U.S. president is often called the “leader of free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership, and its impact on the economy and the country.
6/23/16 32:25
REBROADCAST: Why Do We Really Follow the News?
There are all kinds of civics-class answers to that question. But how true are they? Could it be that we like to read about war, politics, and miscellaneous heartbreak simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?
6/16/16 35:46
250 Are We in a Mattress-Store Bubble?
You’ve seen them — everywhere! — and often clustered together, as if central planners across America decided that what every city really needs is a Mattress District. There are now dozens of online rivals too. Why are there so many stores selling something we buy so rarely?
6/9/16 34:37
249 Why Does Everyone Hate Flying? And Other Questions Only a Pilot Can Answer
Patrick Smith, the author of Cockpit Confidential, answers every question we can throw at him about what really happens up in the air. Just don’t get him started on pilotless planes — or whether the autopilot is actually doing the flying.
6/2/16 43:42
248 The Longest Long Shot
When the uncelebrated Leicester City Football Club won the English Premier League, it wasn’t just the biggest underdog story in recent history. It was a sign of changing economics — and that other impossible, wonderful events might be lurking just around the corner.
5/25/16 42:59
247 How to Be Tim Ferriss
Our Self-Improvement Month concludes with a man whose entire life and career are one big pile of self-improvement. Nutrition? Check. Bizarre physical activities? Check. Working less and earning more? Check. Tim Ferriss, creator of the Four-Hour universe, may at first glance look like a charlatan, but it seems more likely that he’s a wizard — and the kind of self-improvement ally we all want on our side.
5/19/16 41:28
246 How to Win Games and Beat People
Games are as old as civilization itself, and some people think they have huge social value regardless of whether you win or lose. Tom Whipple is not one of those people. That’s why he consulted an army of preposterously overqualified experts to find the secret to winning any game.
5/12/16 52:26
245 How to Get More Grit in Your Life
The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned. Here’s how.
5/4/16 44:25
244a BONUS EPISODE: Being Malcolm Gladwell
“Books are a pain in the ass,” says Gladwell, who has written some of the most popular, influential, and beloved non-fiction books in recent history. In this wide-ranging and candid conversation, he describes other pains in the ass — as well as his passions, his limits, and why he’ll never take up golf.
5/1/16 28:18
244 How to Become Great at Just About Anything
What if the thing we call “talent” is grotesquely overrated? And what if deliberate practice is the secret to excellence? Those are the claims of the research psychologist Anders Ericsson, who has been studying the science of expertise for decades. He tells us everything he’s learned.
4/28/16 51:51
243 How to Be More Productive
It’s Self-Improvement Month at Freakonomics Radio. We begin with a topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind: how to get more done in less time. First, however, a warning: there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
4/21/16 38:34
242 Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?
A lot of full-time jobs in the modern economy simply don’t pay a living wage. And even those jobs may be obliterated by new technologies. What’s to be done so that financially vulnerable people aren’t just crushed? It may finally be time for an idea that economists have promoted for decades: a guaranteed basic income.
4/14/16 36:40
241 Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say?
Critics — including President Obama — say short-term, high-interest loans are predatory, trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt. But some economists see them as a useful financial instrument for people who need them. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau promotes new regulation, we ask: who’s right?
4/7/16 49:36
REBROADCAST: The Economics of Sleep, Part 2
People who sleep better earn more money. Now all we have to do is teach everyone to sleep better.
3/31/16 42:47
REBROADCAST: The Economics of Sleep, Part 1
Could a lack of sleep help explain why some people get much sicker than others?
3/24/16 45:37
240 Yes, the American Economy Is in a Funk — But Not for the Reasons You Think
As sexy as the digital revolution may be, it can’t compare to the Second Industrial Revolution (electricity! the gas engine! antibiotics!), which created the biggest standard-of-living boost in U.S. history. The only problem, argues the economist Robert Gordon, is that the Second Industrial Revolution was a one-time event. So what happens next?
3/17/16 33:29
239 The No-Tipping Point
The restaurant business model is warped: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.
3/10/16 43:14
238 The United States of Cory Booker
The junior U.S. Senator from New Jersey thinks bipartisanship is right around the corner. Is he just an idealistic newbie or does he see a way forward that everyone else has missed?
3/3/16 39:18
237 Ask Not What Your Podcast Can Do for You
Now and again, Freakonomics Radio puts hat in hand and asks listeners to donate to the public-radio station that produces the show. Why on earth should anyone pay good money for something that can be had for free? Here are a few reasons.
2/25/16 41:39
236 How Can This Possibly Be True?
A famous economics essay features a pencil (yes, a pencil) arguing that “not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.” Is the pencil just bragging? In any case, what can the pencil teach us about our global interdependence — and the proper role of government in the economy?
2/18/16 40:48
235 Who Needs Handwriting?
The digital age is making pen and paper seem obsolete. But what are we giving up if we give up on handwriting?
2/11/16 39:33
REBROADCAST: How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps
Okay, maybe the steps aren’t so easy. But a program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble.
2/4/16 29:13
REBROADCAST: Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?
If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it?
1/28/16 36:36
234 Do Boycotts Work?
The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the South African divestment campaign, Chick-fil-A! Almost anyone can launch a boycott, and the media loves to cover them. But do boycotts actually produce the change they’re fighting for?
1/21/16 37:23
233 How to Be Less Terrible at Predicting the Future
Experts and pundits are notoriously bad at forecasting, in part because they aren’t punished for bad predictions. Also, they tend to be deeply unscientific. The psychologist Philip Tetlock is finally turning prediction into a science — and now even you could become a superforecaster.
1/14/16 46:52
232 The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap
Discrimination can’t explain why women earn so much less than men. If only it were that easy.
1/7/16 43:23
REBROADCAST: When Willpower Isn’t Enough
Sure, we all want to make good personal decisions, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s where “temptation bundling” comes in.
12/31/15 41:56
REBROADCAST: Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition
A team of economists has been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.
12/24/15 30:59
231 Is Migration a Basic Human Right?
The argument for open borders is compelling — and deeply problematic.
12/17/15 1:00:53
230 The Cheeseburger Diet
One woman’s quest to find the best burger in town can teach all of us to eat smarter.
12/10/15 32:04
229 Ben Bernanke Gives Himself a Grade
He was handed the keys to the global economy just as it started heading off a cliff. Fortunately, he’d seen this movie before.
12/3/15 49:58
REBROADCAST: Why Do People Keep Having Children?
Even a brutal natural disaster doesn’t diminish our appetite for procreating. This surely means we’re heading toward massive overpopulation, right? Probably not.
11/26/15 40:00
228 Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late?
In our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.
11/19/15 45:33
227 Should Everyone Be in a Rock Band?
Lessons from Tom Petty’s rise and another rocker’s fall.
11/12/15 45:28
226 Food + Science = Victory!
On the menu: A kitchen wizard and a nutrition detective talk about the perfect hamburger, getting the most out of garlic, and why you should use vodka in just about everything.
11/5/15 38:20
225 Am I Boring You?
Researchers are trying to figure out who gets bored — and why — and what it means for ourselves and the economy. But maybe there’s an upside to boredom?
10/29/15 39:29
REBROADCAST: How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying
Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t?
10/22/15 36:27
224 How To Win A Nobel Prize
The process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off at least a little bit.
10/15/15 45:27
223 Should Kids Pay Back Their Parents for Raising Them?
When one athlete turned pro, his mom asked him for $1 million. Our modern sensibilities tell us she doesn’t have a case. But should she?
10/8/15 47:22
222 Meet the Woman Who Said Women Can’t Have It All
Anne-Marie Slaughter was best known for her adamant views on Syria when she accidentally became a poster girl for modern feminism. As it turns out, she can be pretty adamant in that realm as well.
10/1/15 42:11
221 How Did the Belt Win?
Suspenders may work better, but the dork factor is too high. How did an organ-squeezing belly tourniquet become part of our everyday wardrobe — and what other suboptimal solutions do we routinely put up with?
9/24/15 30:56
220 “I Don’t Know What You’ve Done With My Husband But He’s a Changed Man”
From domestic abusers to former child soldiers, there is increasing evidence that behavioral therapy can turn them around.
9/17/15 45:53
219 Preventing Crime for Pennies on the Dollar
Conventional programs tend to be expensive, onerous, and ineffective. Could something as simple (and cheap) as cognitive behavioral therapy do the trick?
9/10/15 41:33
218 The Harvard President Will See You Now
How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world.
9/3/15 38:49
217 Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset?
We spend billions on end-of-life healthcare that doesn’t do much good. So what if a patient could forego the standard treatment and get a cash rebate instead?
8/27/15 36:55
216 How to Make a Smart TV Ad
Step 1: Hire a Harvard psych professor as the pitchman. Step 2: Have him help write the script …
8/20/15 30:35
REBROADCAST: The Dangers of Safety
What do NASCAR drivers, Glenn Beck and the hit men of the NFL have in common?
8/12/15 30:57
215 Why Do We Really Follow the News?
There are all kinds of civics-class answers to that question. But how true are they? Could it be that we like to read about war, politics, and miscellaneous heartbreak simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?
8/5/15 35:51
214 How to Create Suspense
Why is soccer the best sport? How has Harlan Coben sold 70 million books? And why does “Apollo 13” keep you enthralled even when you know the ending?
7/29/15 39:20
213 Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush
The comedian, actor — and now, author — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions
7/23/15 32:00
212 The Economics of Sleep, Part 2
People who sleep better earn more money. Now all we have to do is teach everyone to sleep better.
7/16/15 43:25
211 The Economics of Sleep, Part 1
Could a lack of sleep help explain why some people get much sicker than others?
7/9/15 44:56
REBROADCAST: A Better Way to Eat
Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?
7/1/15 28:04
210 Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees?
We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?
6/25/15 52:39
209 Make Me a Match
Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Al Roth.
6/18/15 50:23
208 Making Sex Offenders Pay — and Pay and Pay and Pay
Sure, sex crimes are horrific, and the perpetrators deserve to be punished harshly. But society keeps exacting costs — out-of-pocket and otherwise — long after the prison sentence has been served.
6/11/15 35:29
207 Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?
One man’s attempt to remake his life in the mold of homo economicus.
6/4/15 54:48
REBROADCAST: Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
The debut of a live game show from Freakonomics Radio, with judges Malcolm Gladwell, Ana Gasteyer, and David Paterson.
5/28/15 1:02:56
REBROADCAST: Failure Is Your Friend
In which we argue that failure should not only be tolerated but celebrated.
5/21/15 31:48
206 Ten Years of Freakonomics
Dubner and Levitt are live onstage at the 92nd Street Y in New York to celebrate their new book “When to Rob a Bank” — and a decade of working together.
5/14/15 46:02
205 Could the Next Brooklyn Be … Las Vegas?!
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has a wild vision and the dollars to try to make it real. But it still might be the biggest gamble in town.
5/7/15 55:17
REBROADCAST: Think Like a Child
When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an eight year old.
4/29/15 29:44
204 Nate Silver Says: “Everyone Is Kind of Weird”
America’s favorite statistical guru answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions, and more.
4/23/15 39:38
203 Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend
It may seem like winning a valuable diamond is an unalloyed victory. It’s not. It’s not even clear that a diamond is so valuable.
4/16/15 40:29
202 How Many Doctors Does It Take to Start a Healthcare Revolution?The practice of medicine has been subsumed by the business of medicine. This is great news for healthcare shareholders — and bad news for pretty much everyone else. 4/9/15 53:56
201 How Do We Know What Really Works in Healthcare?
A lot of the conventional wisdom in medicine is nothing more than hunch or wishful thinking. A new breed of data detectives is hoping to change that.
4/2/15 41:53
REBROADCAST: The Perfect Crime
If you are driving and kill a pedestrian, there’s a good chance you’ll barely be punished. Why?
3/26/15 29:35
REBROADCAST: What You Don’t Know About Online Dating
Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility.
3/19/15 40:11
200 When Willpower Isn’t Enough
Sure, we all want to make good personal decisions, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s where “temptation bundling” comes in.
3/12/15 33:11
199 This Idea Must Die
Every year, Edge.org asks its salon of big thinkers to answer one big question. This year’s question borders on heresy: what scientific idea is ready for retirement?
3/5/15 54:33
198 The Maddest Men of All
Advertisers have always been adept at manipulating our emotions. Now they’re using behavioral economics to get even better.
2/26/15 32:52
197 Hacking the World Bank
Jim Yong Kim has an unorthodox background for a World Bank president — and his reign thus far is just as unorthodox.
2/19/15 36:33
196 Is There a Better Way to Fight Terrorism?
The White House is hosting an anti-terror summit next week. Summits being what they are, we try to offer some useful advice.
2/12/15 42:48
195 How Efficient Is Energy Efficiency?
It’s a centerpiece of U.S. climate policy and a sacred cow among environmentalists. Does it work?
2/05/15 32:36
194 How Safe Is Your Job?
Economists preach the gospel of “creative destruction,” whereby new industries — and jobs — replace the old ones. But has creative destruction become too destructive?
1/29/15 33:36
193 Someone Else’s Acid Trip
As Kevin Kelly tells it, the hippie revolution and the computer revolution are nearly one and the same.
1/22/15 29:31
192 That’s a Great Question!
Verbal tic or strategic rejoinder? Whatever the case: it’s rare to come across an interview these days where at least one question isn’t a “great” one.
1/15/15 25:42
191 Why Doesn’t Everyone Get the Flu Vaccine?
Influenza kills, but you’d never know it by how few of us get the vaccine.
1/8/15 36:16
REBROADCAST: What’s the “Best” Exercise?
Most people blame lack of time for being out of shape. So maybe the solution is to exercise more efficiently.
1/1/15 15:20
REBROADCAST: What’s More Dangerous: Marijuana or Alcohol?
Imagine that both substances were undiscovered until today. How would we think about their relative risks?
12/25/14 26:39
190 Time to Take Back the Toilet
Public bathrooms are noisy, poorly designed, and often nonexistent. What to do?
12/18/14 35:48
REBROADCAST: The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat
We spend billions on our pets, and one of the fastest-growing costs is pet “aftercare.” But are those cremated remains you got back really from your pet?
12/11/14 45:59
189 How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps
Okay, maybe the steps aren’t so easy. But a program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble.
12/4/14 29:35
188 Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?
If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it?
11/27/14 28:13
187 The Man Who Would Be Everything
Boris Johnson — mayor of London, biographer of Churchill, cheese-box painter and tennis-racket collector — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.
11/20/14 28:13
186 Why Do People Keep Having Children?
Even a brutal natural disaster doesn’t diminish our appetite for procreating. This surely means we’re heading toward massive overpopulation, right? Probably not.
11/13/14 39:30
185 Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico?
Corporations around the world are consolidating like never before. If it’s good enough for companies, why not countries? Welcome to Amexico!
11/6/14 57:36
184 What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics?
A lot! “The Economics of the Undead” is a book about dating strategy, job creation, and whether there should be a legal market for blood.
10/30/14 26:00
183 Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
The debut of a live game show from Freakonomics Radio, with judges Malcolm Gladwell, Ana Gasteyer, and David Paterson.
10/23/14 1:03:30
182 How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas?
The Norwegian government parleys massive oil wealth into huge subsidies for electric cars. Is that carbon laundering or just pragmatic environmentalism?
10/16/14 36:54
REBROADCAST: How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten
The science of what works — and doesn’t work — in fund-raising
10/9/14 34:43
181 Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition
A team of economists has been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.
10/2/14 43:00
180 Fitness Apartheid
Markets are hardly perfect, but the results can be ugly when you try to subvert them.
9/25/14 30:58
179 Outsiders by Design
What does it mean to pursue something that everyone else thinks is nuts? And what does it take to succeed?
9/18/14 40:25
178 How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying
Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t?
9/11/14 34:56
177 Regulate This!
Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, EatWith, and other companies in the “sharing economy” are practically daring government regulators to shut them down. The regulators are happy to comply.
9/4/14 57:14
REBROADCAST: Who Runs the Internet?
The online universe doesn’t have nearly as many rules, or rulemakers, as the real world. Discuss.
8/28/14 32:58
REBROADCAST: Parking is Hell
There ain’t no such thing as a free parking spot. Somebody has to pay for it — and that somebody is everybody.
8/21/14 36:39
REBROADCAST: What Do Medieval Nuns and Bo Jackson Have in Common?
A look at whether spite pays — and if it even exists.
8/14/14 39:06
REBROADCAST: Should Tipping Be Banned?
It’s awkward, random, confusing — and probably discriminatory too.
8/7/14 38:10
REBROADCAST: How Much Does Your Name Matter?
A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?
8/2/14 53:16
176 Does Religion Make You Happy?
It’s a hard question to answer, but we do our best.
7/24/14 29:36
175 Why You Should Bribe Your Kids
Educational messaging looks good on paper but kids don’t respond to it — and adults aren’t much better.
7/17/14 28:02
174 What Do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common?
It isn’t easy to separate the guilty from the innocent, but a clever bit of game theory can help.
7/10/14 33:19
173 A Better Way to Eat
Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?
7/3/14 26:12
172 How to Screen Job Applicants, Act Your Age, and Get Your Brain Off Autopilot
Dubner and Levitt answer reader questions in this first installment of the “Think Like a Freak” Book Club.
6/26/14 26:15
171 There’s No Such Thing as a Free Appetizer
Is it really in a restaurant’s best interest to give customers free bread or chips before they even order?
6/19/14 38:20
170 Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet)
Every four years, the U.S. takes a look at the World Cup and develops a slight crush. What would it take to really fall in love?
6/12/14 37:14
169 Failure Is Your Friend
In which we argue that failure should not only be tolerated but celebrated.
6/5/14 32:19
REBROADCAST: The Upside of Quitting
You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?
5/29/14 59:40
168 Think Like a Child
When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an eight year old.
5/22/14 29:17
167 The Three Hardest Words in the English Language
Why learning to say “I don’t know” is one of the best things you can do.
5/15/14 29:57
166 How to Think Like a Freak — and Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions
Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt talk about their new book and field questions about prestige, university life, and (yum yum) bacon.
5/8/14 28:54
165 The Perfect Crime
If you are driving and kill a pedestrian, there’s a good chance you’ll barely be punished. Why?
5/1/14 30:21
164 Which Came First, the Chicken or the Avocado?
When it comes to exercising outrage, people tend to be very selective. Could it be that humans are our least favorite animal?
4/24/14 30:41
163 What’s More Dangerous: Marijuana or Alcohol?
Imagine that both substances were undiscovered until today. How would we think about their relative risks?
4/17/14 25:55
162 “If Mayors Ruled the World”
Unlike certain elected officials in Washington, mayors all over the country actually get stuff done. So maybe we should ask them to do more?
4/10/14 32:17
161 How to Make People Quit Smoking
The war on cigarettes has been fairly successful in some places. But 1 billion humans still smoke — so what comes next?
4/3/14 33:37
160 Why Everybody Who Doesn’t Hate Bitcoin Loves It
Thinking of Bitcoin as just a digital currency is like thinking about the Internet as just e-mail. Its potential is much more exciting than that.
3/27/14 36:23
REBROADCAST: Women Are Not Men
In many ways, the gender gap is closing. In others, not so much. And that’s not always a bad thing.
3/20/14 38:34
159 “It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana”
A psychology professor argues that the brain’s greatest attribute is knowing what other people are thinking. And that a Queen song, played backwards, can improve your mind-reading skills.
3/13/14 23:56
158 Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?
Yes, it expands the mind but we usually don’t retain much — and then there’s the opportunity cost.
3/6/14 21:48
157 Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?
In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. We’ll tell you why.
2/27/14 24:47
156 Why Marry? Part 2
The consequences of our low marriage rate — and if the old model is less attractive, how about a new one?
2/20/14 24:21
155 Why Marry? Part 1
The myths of modern marriage.
2/13/14 20:32
154 What You Don’t Know About Online Dating
Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility.
2/06/14 37:14
153 Reasons to Not Be Ugly
The “beauty premium” is real, for everyone from babies to NFL quarterbacks.
1/30/14 26:40
152 Everybody Gossips (and That’s a Good Thing)
The benefits of rumor-mongering.
1/23/14 36:28
REBROADCAST: Fear Thy Nature
What “Sleep No More” and the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about who we really are.
1/16/14 37:53
151 Are We Ready to Legalize Drugs? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions
Dubner and Levitt talk about fixing the post office, putting cameras in the classroom, and wearing hats.
1/9/14 29:42
150 What’s the “Best” Exercise?
Most people blame lack of time for being out of shape. So maybe the solution is to exercise more efficiently.
1/2/14 15:18
REBROADCAST: Save Me From Myself
A commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be. What could possibly go wrong?
12/26/13 36:42
149 Pontiff-icating on the Free-Market System
The Pope just gave it to the global economy with both barrels. Was he right to do so?
12/19/13 40:03
148 Are Gay Men Really Rich?
It’s easy to get that idea. But is the stereotype true?
12/12/13 21:14
147 The Most Dangerous Machine
More than 1 million people die worldwide each year from traffic accidents. But there’s never been a safer time to drive.
12/05/13 32:37
146 Fighting Poverty With Actual Evidence
It’s time to do away with feelgood stories, gut hunches, and magical thinking.
11/27/13 37:13
145 What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common?
Spontaneous order is everywhere if you know where to look for it.
11/21/13 46:54
144 Who Runs the Internet?
The online universe doesn’t have nearly as many rules, or rulemakers, as the real world. Discuss.
11/14/13 32:58
REBROADCAST: Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2
College tends to make people happier, healthier, and wealthier. But how?
11/07/13 33:59
REBROADCAST: Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1
What’s a college degree really worth these days?
10/31/13 29:40
143 Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such an Easy Sell
Being green is rarely a black-and-white issue — but that doesn’t stop marketers and politicians from pretending it is.
10/24/13 25:02
142 The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat
We spend billions on our pets, and one of the fastest-growing costs is pet “aftercare.” But are those cremated remains you got back really from your pet?
10/14/13 45:59
141 How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten
The science of what works — and doesn’t work — in fundraising.
10/10/13 33:31
140 How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush
Dubner and Levitt field your queries in this latest installment of our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.
10/03/13 25:33
139 Would a Big Bucket of Cash Really Change Your Life?
A 19th-century Georgia land lottery may have something to teach us about today’s income inequality.
9/26/13 29:29
REBROADCAST: The Economist’s Guide to Parenting
Think you know how much parents matter? Think again. Economists crunch the numbers to learn the ROI on child-rearing.
9/19/13 58:27
138 Whatever Happened to the Carpal Tunnel Epidemic?
Once upon a time, office workers across America lived in fear of a dreaded infirmity. Was the computer keyboard really the villain — and did carpal tunnel syndrome really go away?
9/12/13 17:49
REBROADCAST: The Suicide Paradox
There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises.
9/05/13 58:34
137 Who Are the Most Successful Immigrants in the World?
It’s impossible to say for sure, but the Lebanese do remarkably well. Why?
8/29/13 26:14
REBROADCAST: The Folly of Prediction
Human beings love to predict the future, but we’re quite terrible at it. So how about punishing all those bad predictions?
8/22/13 58:30
136 The Middle of Everywhere
Chicago has given the world more than sausage, crooked politics, and Da Bears.
8/15/13 30:50
REBROADCAST: The Church of “Scionology”
We worship the tradition of handing off a family business to the next generation. But is that really such a good idea?
8/8/13 57:28
135 Do Baby Girls Cause Divorce?
Even American parents have a strong “son preference” — which means that a newborn daughter can be bad news for a marriage.
8/1/13 20:03
REBROADCAST: The Upside of Quitting
You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?
7/22/13 59:40
134 Government Employees Gone Wild
The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failures catalogs the fiscal, sexual, and mental lapses of federal workers — all with an eye toward preventing the next big mistake.
7/18/13 20:14
133 A Burger a Day
Is junk food an abomination or a modern miracle?
7/11/13 6:30
132 “Jane Austen, Game Theorist”
What does “Pride and Prejudice” have to do with nuclear deterrence?
7/4/13 28:18
REBROADCAST: Legacy of a Jerk
What happens to your reputation when you’re no longer around to defend it?
6/27/13 44:05
131 Do You Really Want to Know Your Future?
You might think that someone with a 50-50 chance of getting a fatal disease would want to know for sure — but you would be wrong. What does this say about our supposed thirst for certainty?
6/20/13 32:15
130 Why Family and Business Don’t Mix
Yet another reason to blame your parents for pretty much everything.
6/12/13 6:28
129 Should Tipping Be Banned?
It’s awkward, random, confusing — and probably discriminatory too.
6/3/13 38:10
128 Baby, You Can Program My Car
A glimpse into our driverless future.
5/29/13 5:59
127 Can You Be Too Smart for Your Own Good? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions
Dubner and Levitt talk about circadian rhythms, gay marriage, autism, and whether “pay what you want” is everything it’s cracked up to be.
5/23/13 28:08
REBROADCAST: The Hidden Cost of False Alarms
If any other product failed 94 percent of the time, you’d probably stop using it. So why do we put up with burglar alarms?
5/15/13 5:41
126 What Do Medieval Nuns and Bo Jackson Have in Common?
A look at whether spite pays — and if it even exists.
5/9/13 39:42
125 It’s Crowded at the Top
Why is unemployment still so high? It may be because of something that happened well before the Great Recession.
5/1/13 6:34
124 Running to Do Evil
An interview with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whose younger brother turned him in — and what it says about the Boston bombers.
4/25/13 26:02
123 Help Wanted. No Smokers Need Apply
In many states, it is perfectly legal to not hire someone who smokes. Should employers also be able to weed out junk-food lovers or motorcyclists — or anyone who wants to have a baby?
4/17/13 5:58
122 How Much Does Your Name Matter?
A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?
4/8/13 50:56
121 The Tax Man Nudgeth
Real tax reform may or may not ever happen. In the meantime, how about making the current system work a bit better?
4/3/13 10:13
120 100 Ways to Fight Obesity
Freakonomics asks a dozen smart people for their best ideas. Get ready for a fat tax, a sugar ban, and a calorie-chomping tapeworm.
3/27/13 37:21
119 How Money Is March Madness?
The NCAA basketball tournament grabs a lot of eyeballs, but turning them into dollars hasn’t always been easy — even when the “talent” is playing for free.
3/21/13 6:28
118 Parking Is Hell
There ain’t no such thing as a free parking spot. Somebody has to pay for it — and that somebody is everybody.
3/13/13 36:39
117 When Is a Negative a Positive?
Sure, we all like to hear compliments. But if you’re truly looking to get better at something, it’s the negative feedback that will get you there.
3/6/13 7:33
116 Women Are Not Men
In many ways, the gender gap is closing. In others, not so much. And that’s not always a bad thing.
2/24/13 37:23
115 The Downside of More Miles Per Gallon
The gas tax doesn’t work well, and it’s only going to get worse. What’s next?
2/21/13 6:05
114 How to Think About Guns
No one wants mass shootings. Unfortunately, no one has a workable plan to stop them either.
2/14/13 30:08
113 Sure, I Remember That
It is startlingly easy to create false memories, especially in politics.
2/08/13 6:39
112 Would You Let a Coin Toss Decide Your Future?
Levitt and Dubner go deep on “Freakonomics Experiments,” a new research project that lets you take a chance on life.
1/31/13 26:42
111 Introducing “Freakonomics Experiments”
Steve Levitt has a novel idea for helping people make tough decisions.
1/24/13 5:01
110 Who Owns the Words That Come Out of Your Mouth?
The very long reach of Winston Churchill — and how the British government is remaking copyright law.
1/17/13 31:54
109 How to Live Longer
Why do Hall of Fame inductees, Oscar winners, and Nobel laureates outlive their peers?
1/10/13 6:07
108 How Did “Freakonomics” Get Its Name?
Levitt and Dubner answer your questions about driving, sneezing, and ladies’ nights. Plus a remembrance of Levitt’s sister Linda.
1/03/13 27:28
107 How Much Does a Good Boss Really Matter?
It’s harder than you’d think to measure the value of a boss. But some enterprising economists have done just that — and the news is good.
12/27/12 14:10
106 The House of Dreams
Dubner’s childhood home goes from sacred to profane — and then back again.
12/20/12 21:51
105 Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas
Who better than an economist to help with your shopping list?
12/12/12 15:10
104 The Things They Taught Me
College, at its best, is about learning to think. Stephen Dubner chats up three of his former professors who made the magic happen.
12/5/12 23:59
103 Free-conomics
Economists are a notoriously self-interested bunch. But a British outfit called Pro Bono Economics is giving away its services to selected charities.
11/28/12 6:19
102 I Consult, Therefore I Am
There are enough management consultants these days to form a small nation. But what do they actually do? And does it work?
11/21/12 35:59
101 Mass Transit Hysteria
Adding more train and bus lines looks like an environmental slam dunk. Until you start to do the math.
11/14/12 6:33
100 Our 100th Episode!
Turkey sex and chicken wings, selling souls and swapping organs, the power of the president and the price of wine: these are a few of our favorite things.
11/5/12 14:33
99 How to Maximize Your Halloween Candy Haul
Is it as simple as going to the richest neighborhood you can find? Of course not …
10/31/12 5:59
98 We the Sheeple
Politicians tell voters exactly what they want to hear, even when it makes no sense. Which is pretty much all the time.
10/24/12 23:25
97 Lying to Ourselves
We rely on polls and surveys to tell us how people will behave in the future. Too bad they’re completely unreliable.
10/17/12 5:45
96 The Cobra Effect
When you want to get rid of a nasty pest, one obvious solution comes to mind: just offer a cash reward. But be careful — because nothing backfires quite like a bounty.
10/10/12 34:26
95 Why America’s Economic Growth May Be (Shh!) Over
Sure, we love our computers and all the rest of our digital toys. But when it comes to real economic gains, can we ever match old-school innovations like the automobile and electricity?
10/3/12 5:48
94 The Tale of the $15 Tomato
Trying to go rustic by baking, brewing, and knitting at home can be terribly inefficient. And that’s a wonderful thing.
9/23/12 9:24
93 Why Online Poker Should Be Legal
The data show that poker is indeed a game of skill, not chance, and a Federal judge agrees. So why are players still being treated like criminals?
9/19/12 5:25
92 Fear Thy Nature
What “Sleep No More” and the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about who we really are.
9/12/12 37:15
91 Can Selling Beer Cut Down on Public Drunkenness?
Binge drinking is a big problem at college football games. Oliver Luck — father of No. 1 NFL pick Andrew, and the athletic director at West Virginia University — had an unusual idea to help solve it.
9/5/12 5:45
90 How Deep Is the Shadow Economy?
What we know — and don’t know — about the gazillions of dollars that never show up on anyone’s books.
8/29/12 19:51
89 There’s Cake in the Breakroom!
If you think working from home offers too many distractions, just think about what happens at the office.
8/22/12 6:10
88 Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2
College tends to make people happier, healthier, and wealthier. But how?
8/15/12 33:59
87 The Season of Death
We know that summertime brings far too many fatal accidents. But you may be surprised if you dig into the numbers.
8/8/12 6:33
86 Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1
What’s a college degree really worth these days?
7/29/12 29:40
85 Olympian Economics
Do host cities really get the benefits their boosters promise, or are they just engaging in some fiscal gymnastics?
7/25/12 6:59
84 Legacy of a Jerk
What happens to your reputation when you’re no longer around to defend it?
7/18/12 44:05
83 What’s Wrong With Cash for Grades?
If we want our kids to thrive in school, maybe we should just pay them.
7/10/12 6:15
82 Please Steal My Car
Levitt and Dubner answer your FREAK-quently Asked Questions about junk food, insurance, and how to make an economist happy.
7/4/12 22:59
81 Star-Spangled Banter?
Once a week, the British Prime Minister goes before the House of Commons for a lightning round of hard questions. Should the U.S. give it a try?
6/26/12 7:13
80 Riding the Herd Mentality
How using peer pressure — and good, old-fashioned shame — can push people to do the right thing.
6/20/12 36:26
79 A Cheap Employee Is … a Cheap Employee
Paying workers as little as possible seems smart — unless you can make more money by paying them more.
6/13/12 6:03
78 You Eat What You Are, Part 2
To feed 7 billion people while protecting the environment, it would seem that going local is a no-brainer — until you start looking at the numbers.
6/6/12 28:59
77 Playing the Nerd Card
The NBA’s superstars are suddenly sporting Urkel glasses — but is it more than a fashion statement?
5/30/12 5:29
76 You Eat What You Are, Part 1
How American food so got bad — and why it’s getting so much better.
5/23/12 30:08
75 Retirement Kills
Sure, we all dream of leaving the office forever. But what if it’s bad for your health?
5/16/12 5:36
74 Soul Possession
In a world where nearly everything is for sale, is it always okay to buy what isn’t yours?
5/7/12 28:40
73 A Rose By Any Other Distance
At a time when people worry about every mile their food must travel, why is it okay to import most of our cut flowers from thousands of miles away?
5/2/12 5:40
72 Lottery Loopholes and Deadly Doctors
Season 2, Episode 5: What do you do when smart people keep making stupid mistakes? And: are we a nation of financial illiterates? This is a “mashupdate” of “Is America Ready for a “No-Lose Lottery”?,” “The “No-Lose Lottery,” Part 2,” and “What Do Hand-Washing and Financial Illiteracy Have in Common?
4/25/12 58:04
71 Is Good Corporate Citizenship Also Good for the Bottom Line?
A new study says that yes, it is — but try telling that to the United Nations officials who are preaching sustainability practices.
4/19/12 6:21
70 Eating and Tweeting
Season 2, Episode 4: Does the future of food lie in its past – or inside a tank of liquid nitrogen? Also: how anti-social can you be on a social network? This is a “mashupdate” of Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup, Part 1,”Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup, Part 2,” and “Is Twitter a Two-Way Street?”
4/12/12 57:27
69 The Hidden Cost of False Alarms
If any other product failed 94 percent of the time, you’d probably stop using it. So why do we put up with burglar alarms?
4/4/12 5:41
68 The Power of the President — and the Thumb
Season 2, Episode 3: How much does the President of the United States really matter? And: where did all the hitchhikers go? A pair of “attribution errors.” This is a “mashupdate” of “How Much Does the President Really Matter?” and “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?
3/29/12 58:09
67 The Patent Gap
Women hold fewer than one in 10 patents. Why? And what are we missing out on?
3/23/12 5:09
66 Show and Yell
Season 2, Episode 2: Is booing an act of verbal vandalism or the last true expression of democracy? And: when you drive a Prius, are you guilty of “conspicuous conservation”? This is a “mashupdate” of “Hey, Baby, Is That a Prius You’re Driving?” and “Boo … Who?”
3/15/12 58:17
65 It’s Not the President, Stupid
Isn’t it time to admit that the U.S. economy doesn’t have a commander in chief?
3/8/12 5:25
64 The Days of Wine and Mouses
Season 2, Episode 1: Do more expensive wines taste better? And: what does one little rodent in a salad say about a restaurant’s future? This is a “mashupdate” of “Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?” and “A Mouse in the Salad.”
2/28/12 56:47
63 The Dilbert Index?
Measuring workplace morale — and how to game the sick-day system.
2/23/12 6:01
62 How Biased Is Your Media?
The left and the right blame each other for pretty much everything, including slanted media coverage. Can they both be right?
2/16/12 36:20
61 Does This Recession Make Me Look Fat?
A look at some non-obvious ways to lose weight.
2/9/12 5:50
60 Save Me From Myself
A commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be. What could possibly go wrong?
2/2/12 34:46
59 The Hidden Side of the Super Bowl
A football cheat sheet to help you sound like the smartest person at the party.
1/26/12 5:30
58 What Do Hand-Washing and Financial Illiteracy Have in Common?
Education is the surest solution to a lot of problems. Except when it’s not.
1/20/12 34:58
57 Does Money Really Buy Elections?
We all know the answer is yes. But the data — and Rudy Giuliani — say no.
1/12/12 6:50
56 Why Is “I Don’t Know” So Hard to Say?
Levitt and Dubner answer your FREAK-quently Asked Questions about certifying politicians, irrational fears, and the toughest three words in the English language.
1/5/12 16:38
55 The Perils of Drunk Walking
We know it’s terribly dangerous to drive drunk. But heading home on foot isn’t the solution.
12/28/11 6:03
54 How Is a Bad Radio Station Like Our Public-School System? (Encore)
The thrill of customization, via Pandora and a radical new teaching method.
12/22/11 30:35
53 How American Food Got So Bad
Tyler Cowen points fingers. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
12/14/11 5:21
52 Weird Recycling
Clever ways to not waste our waste.
12/3/11 25:03
51 What Makes a Donor Donate?
The science of charity, with economist John List.
11/30/11 5:17
50 The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?
There’s a nasty secret about hot-button topics like global warming: knowledge is not always power.
11/23/11 30:30
49 Unnatural Turkeys
Our appetite for breast meat renders our holiday birds unable to reproduce.
11/17/11 4:54
48 Boo…Who?
Is booing an act of verbal vandalism—or the last true expression of democracy?
11/9/11 31:27
47 Wildfires, Cops, and Keggers
An election cycle brings about more than voting around the world.  There are many odd by-products, often inspired by how the incentives line up for those in power.
11/2/11 4:53
46 Misadventures in Baby-Making
We are constantly wowed by new technologies and policies meant to make childbirth better. But beware the unintended consequences.
10/26/11 28:02
45 Those Cheating Teachers!
High-stakes testing has produced some rotten apples. But they can be caught.
10/19/11 5:18
44 Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?
Did we needlessly scare ourselves into ditching a good thing? And, with millions of cars driving around with no passengers, should we be rooting for a renaissance?
10/10/11 30:00
43 The Decline and Fall of Violence
The world is a more peaceful place today that at any time in history — by a long, long shot.
10/5/11 6:15
42 The Upside of Quitting
Season 1, Episode 5: You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?
9/29/11 59:40
41 The Folly of Prediction
Season 1, Episode 4: Human beings love to predict the future, but we’re quite terrible at it. So how about punishing all those bad predictions?
9/15/11 58:22
40 The Suicide Paradox
Season 1, Episode 3: There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises.
9/1/11 57:21
39 The Economist’s Guide to Parenting
Season 1, Episode 2: Think you know how much parents matter? Think again. Economists crunch the numbers to learn the ROI on child-rearing.
8/17/11 58:27
38 The Church of “Scionology”
Season 1, Episode 1: We worship the tradition of handing off a family business to the next generation. But is that really such a good idea?
8/4/11 57:28
37 Mouse in the Salad
In restaurants and in life, bad things happen. But what happens next is just as important.
7/21/11 28:41
36 Hey Baby, Is That a Prius You’re Driving?
Conspicuous conservation is about showing off your environmental bona fides. In other words, if you lean green, there’s extra value in being seen leaning green.
7/7/11 27:16
35 Live From St. Paul!
Freakonomics Radio hits the road, and plays some Quiz Bowl!
6/23/11 28:36
34 Things Our Fathers Gave Us
What did Levitt and Dubner learn as kids from their dads?
6/9/11 14:27
33 To Catch a Fugitive
Who is likelier to get to the fugitive first? When a fugitive is on the run, it’s not only the police he has to worry about. A bounty hunter could be coming after him, too.
5/26/11 19:12
32 Growing Up Buffett
What’s it like to wake up one day and realize Dad is a multi-billionaire? That’s what happened to Warren Buffett’s son Peter — who then started to think about whether or not to join the family
5/12/11 15:00
31 Gambling With Your Life
Does Las Vegas increase your risk of suicide? A researcher embeds himself in the city where Americans are most likely to kill themselves.
4/28/11 19:10
30 Does College Still Matter? And Other Freaky Questions Answered…
In our second round of FREAK-quently Asked Questions, Steve Levitt answers some queries from listeners and readers.
4/14/11 16:53
29 Smarter Kids at 10 Bucks a Pop
It won’t work for everyone, but there’s a cheap, quick, and simple way to lift some students’ grades.
4/7/11 20:32
28 Why Can’t We Predict Earthquakes?
We talk to a U.S. Geological Survey physicist about the science — and folly — of predicting earthquakes. There are lots of known knowns; and, fortunately, not too many unknown unknowns. But it’s the known unknowns — the timing of the next Big One — that are the most dangerous.
3/31/11 21:27
27 Death by Fire? Probably Not
Fire deaths in the U.S. have fallen 90 percent over the past 100 years, a great and greatly underappreciated gain. How did it happen — and could we ever get to zero?
3/24/11 20:12
26 The Health of Nations
For decades, GDP has been the yardstick for measuring living standards around the world. Martha Nussbaum would rather use something that actually works.
3/17/11 23:03
25 Is Twitter a Two-Way Street?
To get a lot of followers on Twitter, do you need to follow a lot of other Tweeps? And if not, why not?
3/10/11 26:31
24 The Power of Poop
Since the beginning of civilization, we’ve thought that human waste was worthless and dangerous. What if we were wrong?
3/3/11 19:51
23 Millionaires vs. Billionaires
Five things you don’t know about the NFL labor standof.
2/24/11 28:41
22 Why Cities Rock
Could it be that cities are “our greatest invention” — that, despite a reputation as black-soot-spewing engines of doom, they in fact make us richer, smarter, happier and (believe it!) greener?
2/17/11 17:07
21 Bring on the Pain!
It’s not about how much something hurts — it’s how you remember the pain. This week, lessons on pain from the New York City subway, the professional hockey rink, and a landmark study of colonoscopy patients. So have a listen; we promise, it won’t hurt a bit.
2/10/11 25:40
20 Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup! (Part 2)
What do a computer hacker, an Indiana farm boy, and Napoleon Bonaparte have in common? The past, present, and future of food science.
2/3/11 27:21
19 Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup! (Pt. 1)
The “molecular gastronomy” movement — which gets a bump in visibility next month with the publication of the mammoth cookbook “Modernist Cuisine” — is all about bringing more science into the kitchen. In many ways,it is the opposite of the “slow food” movement. In this episode, you’ll hear the chieftains of the two camps square off: Alice Waters for the slow foodies and Nathan Myhrvold for the mad scientists. Bon appetit!
1/27/11 26:24
18 Freakonomics FAQ, No. 1
Levitt and Dubner field questions from the public and hold forth on everything from dating strategies and rock-and-roll accordion music to whether different nations have different economic identities. Oh, and also: is it worthwhile to vote?
1/20/11 16:44
17 Trashed
How economics — and emotion — have turned our garbage into such a mess.
1/13/11 21:53
16 Exit Interview: Schools Chancellor, NYC
Having already amassed an eventful resume — the Clinton White House, the Department of Justice, and Bertelsmann — Joel I. Klein spent the past eight years at chancellor of the biggest school system in the country. So what’d he learn?
1/6/11 15:16
15 You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let’s Do It!
What happens when the most disturbing ideas are also the best?
12/30/10 26:33
14 Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?
They should! It’s a cardinal rule: more expensive items are supposed to be qualitatively better than their cheaper versions. But is that true for wine?
12/16/10 25:22
13 The “No-Lose Lottery,” Part 2
It’s the banking tool that got millions of people around the world to stop wasting money on the lottery. So why won’t state and federal officials in the U.S. give it a chance?
12/2/10 21:44
12 Is America Ready for a “No-Lose Lottery”?
For the most part, Americans don’t like the simple,boring act of putting money in a savings account. We do, however, love to play the lottery. So what if you combined the two, creating a new kind of savings account with a lottery payout?
11/18/10 25:41
11 How Much Does the President of the U.S. Really Matter?
The U.S. president is often called the “leader of free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership, and its impact on the economy and the country.
11/4/10 32:54
10 The NFL’s Best Real Estate Isn’t For Sale. Yet.
The NFL is very good at making money. So why on earth doesn’t it sell ad space on the one piece of real estate that football fans can’t help but see: the players themselves? The explanation is trickier than you might think. It has to do with Peyton Manning, with Eli Manning, and with…wait for it…Tevye.
10/29/10 22:04
9 Reading, Rockets, and ‘Rithmetic
Government and the private sector often feel far apart. One is filled with compliance-driven bureaucracy. The other, with market-fueled innovation. But something is changing in a multi-billion dollar corner of the Department of Education. It’s an experiment, which takes cues from the likes of Google and millionaires who hope to go to the moon.
10/21/10 20:20
8 Who Stole All the Runs in Major League Baseball?
It was a pretty good baseball season — especially if you’re a fan of the Yankees, Rays, Twins, Rangers, Reds, Braves, Phillies, or Giants, all of whom made the playoffs. But the post-season just opened with a telling event, a no-hitter pitched by the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, which shows what’s been missing all season: runs.
10/8/10 24:10
7 Two Book Authors and a Microphone
The next chapter in the adventures of Dubner and Levitt has begun. Listen to a preview of what’s to come for the fall season of Freakonomics Radio.
10/1/10 11:32
6 Why the World Cup Is an Economist’s Dream
Steve Levitt talks about why the center cannot hold in penalty kicks, why a running track hurts home-field advantage, and why the World Cup is an economist’s dream.
6/11/10 8:44
5 How Is a Bad Radio Station Like Our Public-School System?
In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, we explore a way to make 1.1 million schoolkids feel like they have 1.1 million teachers.
5/13/10 28:33
4 Faking It
Do you “fake it”? If so, you’re hardly alone. In this episode, you’ll hear how everyone from the President of the United States to a kosher-keeping bacon lover lives in a state of fallen grace. All the time. And gets by.
4/13/10 19:22
3 What Would the World Look Like if Economists Were in Charge?
In this episode we speculate what would happen if economists got to run the world. Hear from a high-end call girl; an Estonian who ran his country according to the gospel of Milton Friedman; and a guy who wants to start building new nations in the middle of the ocean.
3/24/10 19:40
2 Is America’s Obesity Epidemic For Real?
Americans keep putting on pounds. So is it time for a cheeseburger tax? Or would a chill pill be the best medicine? In this episode, we explore the underbelly of fat through the eyes of a 280-pound woman, a top White House doctor, and a couple of overweight academics.
2/26/10 21:05
1 The Dangers of Safety
What do NASCAR drivers, Glenn Beck and the hit men of the NFL have in common?
2/6/10 26:53

*Podcast
^One-hour special: Mashups of earlier podcasts, with updated material, which were once aired on the radio. Archive of On the Radio episodes.
Marketplace segment: For three years, Freakonomics Radio appeared regularly on Marketplace, the weekday business program from American Public Media.