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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 »



Book Tour Advice From a Reader

Think Like a Freak is out today, and so the book tour begins.

In our latest podcast, Levitt talked about how much he dreads going on book tours. He claims to not like being the center of attention, and having to talk to so many people. (Between you and me, I’m not sure he hates it as much as he says.)

Hearing Levitt’s complaints, a listener named Cy Helm has written in with some advice for Levitt. Read More »



Seth Roberts R.I.P

Last week, Levitt eulogized Gary Becker, who died at age 83. After bringing an entirely new set of ideas to his discipline, for which he was occasionally ridiculed or marginalized, Becker was ultimately rewarded with nearly universal acclaim (and a Nobel Prize).

A couple weeks earlier, Seth Roberts died. He too brought an entirely new set of ideas to his discipline — he was a psychologist who delighted in self-experimentation — for which he too was occasionally ridiculed or marginalized. He didn’t receive the universal acclaim Becker did, and Seth died far too young, in his early sixties.

But Seth had a huge impact on the people who were lucky enough to know his work or, even better, know him. Levitt and I wrote about him back in 2005, taken by the diligence and creativity with which be tackled topics like diet, personal health, sleep, and even acne. Read More »



Think Like a Freak Is Out Today — Win a Signed Copy Here!

Today’s the day: Think Like a Freak has just been published. Levitt and I will spend a lot of the next few weeks doing interviews for various TV, radio, print, web, and other media outlets. So how about we spice things up a bit and, at the same time, give you the chance to win a signed copy? (Winners of last week’s giveaway contest will be announced later today.)

Here’s the deal: in the comments section below, enter a word or short phrase that you’d like us to slip into one of our interviews. If we use your secret phrase, you win a signed copy of Think Like a Freak (or, if you prefer, a Think t-shirt). Read More »