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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 »



Why No Work for a Rob Ford Look-Alike?

From a Canadian reader named Barry Neelin:

I am constantly being asked if I am Rob Ford.  Some say we could be twins. I want to be able to offer corporations my Fordability to advertise their products using Mr. Ford’s facial recognition. I have had no luck. Some say this is unusual in that he has selling appeal. I consider my freak ways of decision-making reliable, but I am up against a wall. Your thoughts would be appreciated. See attached pic.

I guess the first step for Barry would be to determine what kind of corporations are open to using “his Fordability to advertise their products.” Any thoughts?



Seven Million Copies Sold

Once in a while, we get a report from our publishers about how many copies of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics have been sold around the world. Last we heard — it was a while ago — we were at 5 million.

The latest report tells us we’ve just breached the 7 million mark. Here’s a rough breakdown:
• United States: 4.4 million
•United Kingdom: 1.65 million
•Translated editions: 1 million

With the global population at around 7 billion, those 7 million copies represent a nice round number: 1 book sold for every 1,000 people on the planet.

With Think Like a Freak coming out next week, I hope we get to 10 million copies before there are 10 billion people on Earth.



Freakonomics Radio Gets Results

It’s nice to have a podcast that is popular, but it’s another thing to have a podcast that actually changes the world. Can you guess which of our recent episodes changed the world? Maybe the one about pedestrians getting run over? Or the one about blood avocados? Nope. Here’s an e-mail from Mandi Grzelak, a listener in Cincinnati:

True story: while listening to your Feb. 6 podcast “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating,” I thought to myself, “I should try online dating!” After all, if NPR employees are on sites like OKCupid, I might have a shot with one! How amazing would that be?!

Long story short: I signed up that afternoon, started with some e-mails and went on my first date (from the site, not ever) on Feb. 10. Tim and I have been inseparable ever since, bring each other endless amounts of happiness, and last night he proposed. I, obviously, said yes. We plan to elope in NYC this August, to avoid a large dramatic wedding. But you and your families are welcome to join us.

Read More »



Win a Think Like a Freak T-Shirt or Signed Copy: What Are the Three Hardest Words to Say?

In our forthcoming Think Like a Freak, the second chapter is called “The Three Hardest Words in the English Language.”

I’m not going to tell you here what we argue are the three hardest words to say (although you can find out pretty easily by glancing at the Table of Contents). I want to know what you think are the three hardest words for people to say, especially in public. And by “hard,” I am not talking about pronunciation, although I guess I’m not not talking about pronunciation either.

The best answer that is left in the comments — as voted by a secret quorum of Freaks — will win you a signed copy of Think Like a Freak or a new Think t-shirt, your choice. Read More »



What I Told the American Library Association

I recently had the privilege of addressing the American Library Association‘s “Summit on the Future of Libraries” at the Library of Congress in Washington. I was mostly there to give a talk about Think Like a Freak, but I took advantage of the setting to speak about libraries as well. Here is some of what I said:

I know you didn’t invite me here to tell you how much I love libraries … but I’m going to do it anyway.

Without the public library in the town in upstate New York where I grew up, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today. Not that I wouldn’t be alive – even I don’t think libraries are that powerful – but I don’t know if I would have become a writer.

It was in that library that I learned to read. It was in that library that I learned to write. It was in that library that I learned to do research. My first research project was a historical essay about a little overgrown Quaker cemetery up on a hill behind our house, a cemetery that nobody alive knew anything about – but the library did.

Read More »