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The Quality-Quantity Tradeoff Dilemma

From a nice review of Freakonomics Radio on Stitcher (a great podcast platform, BTW, if you don’t know it):

I wish I could listen to a new Freakonomics podcast everyday! Truly insightful, great narrative, thought provoking, and interesting topics…

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to fulfill the wishes of the first sentence while upholding the attributes of the second sentence. Sure, we could put out a daily podcast but it would be total crap.

Any ideas?



What Are Your Favorite Freakonomics.com Blog Posts of All Time?

We are starting to put together an anthology of posts from this blog, which we began in 2005, just before the publication of Freakonomics. It is a lot of fun going through the archives — more than 8,000 posts! — but also a bit overwhelming.

Are you willing to help? Whether you are a longtime reader or a new one, please tell us (in the comments section below) any blog posts that you think should be included (or that shouldn’t be). Maybe it was a post you loved … or hated … or something that changed the way you think … or gave you a good idea. Maybe it was simply something that was memorable for reasons you don’t understand.

Don’t feel that you need to troll through the archives as I’m doing, although you are certainly welcome to!

Many thanks.



There’s No Such Thing as a Free Appetizer: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

This week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio is called “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Appetizer.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It was inspired by an e-mail from a listener named Larry Tingen, a college math instructor:

My fiancee and I are avid listeners and lovers of Freakonomics. We were at a Mexican restaurant this weekend and the first thing that happens is we are given chips and salsa — even before drink orders. Kelli asked me why I thought so many restaurants serve you free food (e.g. chips and salsa, bread, etc.) prior to taking your order? I couldn’t come up with a good reason. To me, it seems to go against the restaurant’s financial interest because most people will “fill up” on the free food, then order a smaller/cheaper meal. … Does the free food make customers more likely to order meals that have a better profit margin? What’s going on here?

Read More »



How About Paying Parents for Their Kids’ Good Grade? This Guy Is Really Thinking Like a Freak

In  Think Like a Freak, we touch briefly on paying schoolkids for good grades — which, much of the time, isn’t successful. This inspired a note from a reader named Gary Crowley, who describes himself as “an economics major in college many years ago”:

Hey Guys,

Loved Think Like a Freak.

One thought: Why don’t we trying paying parents for kids getting good grades??? If the parents are motivated to make money, from someone else’s hard work, then they’ll make the kids work harder and want them to stay in school.  I think paying the kids doesn’t take  advantage of the leverage of a parent over their child.  Just a thought.

As a child in the feudal system of a blue-collar Irish-Catholic East Coast family, my Dad took great pride in and took the credit for his beautiful lawn. This would be the same lawn that his children did all the work on. Haha. Don’t see why it wouldn’t work for grades. And I’m sure the parents would be just as proud, even if they’re getting paid.

Gary’s note may also be referring to a brief passage in Think about the parents of schoolkids: Read More »



Saying “I Don’t Know” in the Navy, the Classroom, and Beyond

The best part of publishing a new book – besides the media blitz — is learning which stories resonate with readers and podcast listeners, and how.

One great example is the book’s second chapter, “The Three Hardest Words in the English Language,” which is about how  people are reluctant to say “I don’t know” when in fact they don’t know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem.

We explored this topic in last week’s podcast, and I wanted to share with you some of the most interesting feedback. Read More »



Join the Think Like a Freak Book Club — and Win an Autographed Copy!

Our new book, Think Like a Freak, has just been published and we’d like to talk about it with you. So we are forming the Think Like a Freak Book Club.

How does it work? You write in your questions/comments/complaints in the comments section below and we’ll respond to some of them in our podcast. For now, we’re planning to do three episodes of the Book Club. (But if you know us even a little bit, you know we won’t be afraid to quit after one if it doesn’t work out!) Since there are nine chapters in the book, let’s start with  questions that pertain to Chapter 1, 2, and 3 of Think. Those are: “What Does It Mean to Think Like a Freak?,” “The Three Hardest Words in the English Language,” and “What’s Your Problem?”

If we choose your question for the podcast, we’ll send you a signed copy of Think Like a Freak or a limited edition Think Like a Freak t-shirt. Thanks! Read More »



“A Guide to Meat Consumption for Vegetarians”

You never know what Freakonomics Radio listeners will come up with after listening to our podcasts.

Here, from Josh Miner, is a response to our recent episode “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Avocado,” in which we wondered why some people get upset over the plight of factory-farmed chicken while not many seem to care about the humans who suffer because of the extortion and violence in the avocado industry.

What makes Josh’s response so noteworthy? Among other things, it comes replete with flow chart. Read on!

I love your show — in fact, I loved this episode on the moral impact and consequences of our choices. I got so unbelievably mad, though, when you both simplified the question of how consumers’ choices about what they eat affects the food market in which they participate.

Here are some thoughts — not so well organized.

Read More »



Is Thirteen the Perfect Age to Read Think Like a Freak?

From a friend whose young daughter Lea, around 13 years old, grabbed the copy of Think Like a Freak that I send my friend and “is now devouring it.” But that’s not the good part:

She woke up this morning and told me that she had dreamed last night that we were at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees were winning 12-0, and when Lea looked around, everyone in the stands was reading Think Like a Freak.

No kidding.

And here’s a note from “an almost 13-year-old,” Charlotte, which came over the transom: Read More »