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Freakonomics Radio, Hour-long Episode 4: “The Folly of Prediction”

It’s impossible to predict the future, but humans can’t help themselves. From the economy to the presidency to the Super Bowl, educated and intelligent people promise insight and repeatedly fail by wide margins. These mistakes and misses go unpunished, both publicly and in our brain, which has become trained to ignore the record of those who make them. In this hour of Freakonomics Radio, we’ll dream of the day when bad predictors pay – when the accuracy rate of pundits appear next to their faces on TV, when the weatherman who botches the 5-day forecast by 20 degrees has to make his next appearance soaking wet. We’ll also look at the deep roots of divining what tomorrow brings, from the invention of religion to new understandings of how we make decisions about the future. Read More »



Freakonomics Radio, Hour-long Episode 3: “The Suicide Paradox”

There are twice as many suicides in the U.S. each year than murders. And yet the vast majority of them aren’t discussed at all. Unlike homicide, which is considered a fracturing of our social contract, suicide is considered a shameful problem whose victims — and solutions – are rarely the focus of wide debate. In this third hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, we’ll push back suicide taboos, profiling who is most likely to commit this act (and least likely), and what we know about them. Read More »



How Much Do Parents Really Matter?

Kai Ryssdal and Stephen Dubner are both dads. They both hope to have an impact on the lives of their children. But these hopes exist in the face of data questioning how much parents really matter. This data comes, in part, from economists, who are asking bold questions like what happens when we randomly assign children to families? And why are college-educated mothers spending more time away from work, chauffering their kids around? Today on Marketplace, the answers to these questions and a new approach to parenting, endorsed by Dubner’s co-author Steve Levitt. Here’s a hint: you need a comfy couch.

Here’s where to find Marketplace on the radio near you.



“Conspicuous Conservation” and the Prius Effect

This month, Toyota sold its one millionth Prius hybrid in the U.S. In 10 years, this strange-looking vehicle with the revolutionary engine has claimed a spot among the best-selling cars. Pretty impressive. But are all those Prius owners thinking mainly about better mileage and a smaller carbon footprint, or is there another incentive at work? Read More »



The Race to End Fire Deaths

A century ago, the Triangle Fire stunned the U.S. The death of 146 people, mostly young women working in a factory, led to outrage, which emboldened unions and changed labor laws. It also led to a profound change in how we work to prevent fires. Robert Solomon works for the National Fire Protection Association, a […] Read More »



Two Book Authors and a Microphone

The next chapter in the adventures of Dubner and Levitt has begun. After a post-World Cup summer break from Freakonomics Radio, we’re back, with new podcasts and whole new radio enterprise. Freakonomics Radio is now coming to you from the studios of WNYC in New York, in a production partnership with American Public Media. We’ll […] Read More »