How to Build a Smart City

Season 8, Episode 6 We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it’s hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City — and tried to bring the Olympics there — is now C.E.O. of a Google-funded […]

Here’s Why You’re Not an Elite Athlete

Season 8, Episode 5 There are a lot of factors that go into greatness, many of which are not obvious. A variety of Olympic and professional athletes tell us how they made it and what they sacrificed to get there. And if you can identify the sport most likely to get a kid into a […]

How to Stop Being a Loser

Season 8, Episode 4 The San Francisco 49ers, one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, also used to be one of the best. But they’ve been losing lately — a lot — and one of their players launched a controversy by taking a knee during the national anthem. So why is everyone […]

How Sports Became Us

Season 8, Episode 3 Dollar-wise, the sports industry is surprisingly small, about the same size as the cardboard-box industry. So why does it make so much noise? Because it reflects — and often amplifies — just about every political, economic, and social issue of the day. Introducing a new series, “The Hidden Side of Sports.” […]

An Astronaut, a Catalan, and Two Linguists Walk Into a Bar…

Season 8, Episode 2 In this live episode of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” we learn why New York has skinny skyscrapers, how to weaponize water, and what astronauts talk about in space. Joining Stephen J. Dubner as co-host is the linguist John McWhorter; Bari Weiss (The New York Times) is the real-time fact-checker. […]

People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard.

Season 8, Episode 1 You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge […]

The Cobra Effect (Rebroadcast)

Season 7, Episode 52 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. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “The Cobra Effect” and “Who […]

Spite Happens (Rebroadcast)

Season 7, Episode 51 This week, we look at whether spite pays — if it even exists — and how peer pressure (or good, old-fashioned shame) can push people to do the right thing. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “What Do Medieval Nuns and Bo Jackson […]

Legacy of a Jerk (Rebroadcast)

Season 7, Episode 50 What happens to your reputation when you’re no longer around to defend it? And since the beginning of civilization, we’ve thought that human waste was worthless and dangerous. What if we were wrong? To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Legacy of a Jerk” […]

The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It? (Rebroadcast)

Season 7, Episode 49 Clever ways to not waste our waste, and there’s a nasty secret about hot-button topics like global warming: knowledge is not always power. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Weird Recycling” and “The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?”