Google and Click Fraud: Behind the Numbers

Last week, we cited a study finding that 16.6 percent of all pay-per-clicks on the Internet were fraudulent in the fourth quarter of 2007, up from 14.2 percent for the same quarter in 2006. The statistic, as reported by MediaPost, was compiled by Click Forensics, an independent auditor that has created the Click Fraud Index. […]

The Rise of Click Fraud: Is Everyone on the Internet a Criminal?

We’ve written quite a bit about online identity theft here at Freakonomics. But there’s another form of crime that’s been spreading through the Internet over the past few years: click fraud. As its name suggests, the crime involves clicking on a Web site’s ads repeatedly (or, in some cases, employing a software program to do […]

Free Books on the Internet: HarperCollins, Oprah, and Yale Join the Fray

Given our fondness for all things publishing here at Freakonomics, we’ve been following the development of e-books with particular interest. In the past few weeks, it appears that the free e-book movement has officially begun. Last week, publishing monolith HarperCollins (the publisher of Freakonomics) announced that it would offer free electronic editions of a group […]

Global Warming and the Minefield of Unintended Consequences

Dubner and Levitt recently wrote a column discussing the unintended consequences of legislation intended to help the neediest segments of society. Few movements for change have met with as many unintended consequences as the efforts, both in the public and private sector, to combat global warming. Take biofuels (another topic Dubner has addressed here and […]

The Economics of Obesity: A Q&A With the Author of The Fattening of America

We’ve blogged about obesity at length here at Freakonomics. The health economist Eric Finkelstein has been studying the subject for years, and, along with co-author Laurie Zuckerman, has just published a book, The Fattening of America, which analyzes the causes and consequences of obesity in the U.S. Finkelstein agreed to answer our questions about the […]

Are Men Really More Competitive Than Women?

The conventional wisdom holds that men and women have different abilities when it comes to competition (a view that’s certainly being challenged in the current Democratic primary). Labels like “lacking the killer instinct,” “peacemaker,” and “avoiding confrontation” are commonly assigned to women in competitive environments, while the supposed male knack for thriving in competition is […]

What Do DVD Rentals and Airport Security Have In Common?

Both are provided by companies offering cash prizes in exchange for new business ideas. Just as Netflix announced plans to pay a $1 million prize to anyone who comes up with an algorithm for movie recommendations that is 10 percent more accurate than its own, airport security company Clear is now offering $500,000 to whoever […]

Can Economic Incentives Get You Pregnant?

Fertility has become a big business in the U.S., with Americans spending up to $3 billion a year on treatments, drugs, and methods aimed at enabling couples to conceive. Discussions of modern infertility have focused on cultural factors like the rising average age of marriage and the influx of women in the workforce, with studies […]

How to Rig an Election? Ask the Author

We’ve covered the history of dirty politics in the U.S. here at Freakonomics. But what about the modern state of affairs? Allen Raymond knows a thing or two about bending the rules in the electoral process. A former G.O.P. political operative who served as chief of staff to a co-chairman of the Republican National Committee […]

Is Too Much Attention Paid to Small InTrade Contracts?

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw recently posted this chart depicting an InTrade contract on the probability of a U.S. recession in 2008, with the following commentary: In online betting, the probability of recession is now about two-thirds, compared to about one-half a few weeks ago. Evidence pointing toward a recession is certainly present, as Larry Summers […]