Season 5, Episode 6
Audience members are invited onstage to tell us something we didn’t know. We learn a bit, laugh a lot, and as a bonus, each of the judges tell us something about themselves we didn’t know. You’ll learn how Malcolm Gladwell got fired from an internship with a prominent judge; how Ana Gasteyer watched Star Wars with a prominent family; and why Governor Paterson was desperate for O.J. Simpson’s famous Bronco chase to be cut short. Read More »
Season 5, Episode 5
In this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio, we first explore whether some of the scientific ideas we cling to should be killed off; and then Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt answer some listener questions.
The gist: Every year, Edge.org asks its salon of big thinkers to answer one big question. In 2014, the question bordered on heresy: what scientific idea is ready for retirement? Experts weigh in. And then Dubner and Levitt talk about fixing the post office, putting cameras in the classroom, and wearing hats. Read More »
Season 5, Episode 4
In part one (“Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend“), we meet Jason and Kristen Sarata, a couple who win a diamond at a charity event. But the two can’t agree on whether to sell the diamond or keep it. Luckily, investigative reporter Edward Jay Epstein has written an entire book about selling a diamond, and tells us it’s unclear whether diamonds are as valuable as Marilyn Monroe taught us to think they are. Read More »
Season 5, Episode 3
In part one (“How Many Doctors Does It Take to Start a Healthcare Revolution?”), we continue conversations from last week’s episode (“How Do We Know What Really Works in Healthcare?”). Anupam Jena, a physician, economist, and professor at Harvard Medical School, told us last week about his study that shows mortality rates improve when cardiologists are away at medical conferences. One possible explanation for his results, Jena says, is that many procedures, although highly effective, aren’t better than doing nothing in certain cases. Read More »
Season 5, Episode 2
In part one (“How Do We Know What Really Works in Healthcare?“), Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt discussed the randomized control trial, or RCT, which he calls “the very best way to learn about the world around us.” Then Amy Finkelstein, a professor of economics at MIT, talks about using RCTs to explore healthcare delivery — and the “accidental” RCT she discovered when Oregon expanded Medicaid. Read More »
Season 5, Episode 1
In part one (When Willpower Isn’t Enough), the Penn professor Katherine Milkman tells us about “temptation bundling,” which means pairing something you don’t want to do (but need to do) with something you love to do (but perhaps shouldn’t do). For instance: allowing yourself to watch your favorite TV show only while working out at the gym. Or eating a cheeseburger only when you go to visit your least-favorite relative. In part two (The Maddest Men of All), the iconoclastic vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather in the U.K., Rory Sutherland, tells us how marketers use behavioral economics to get us all to buy now and think later. Read More »
Season 4, Episode 5
The practice of tipping is one of the most irrational, un-economic behaviors we engage in. It’s not in our economic best-interest to tip; essentially we do it because it’s a social norm — a nicety. In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, Stephen Dubner looks at why we tip, what kinds of things can nudge tips upward, and what’s wrong with tipping overall. In the end, we wonder whether or not the practice of tipping should be eliminated altogether. Research shows that African American waiters make less in tips than people of other races, so tipping is a discriminatory practice. Later in the hour: if your parent has the gene for Huntington’s disease you have a 50% chance of getting it yourself. Huntington’s is a debilitating fatal disorder. People can do genetic testing to see if they will fall ill, yet only 5% of people choose to do so. Stephen Dubner talks to University of Chicago economist Emily Oster about her research on Huntington’s genetic testing, and the value of not knowing your fate.
Season 4, Episode 4
If you want to get rid of a nasty invasive pest, it might seem sensible to offer a bounty as a reward. But the problem is: nothing backfires quite like a bounty. In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, we look at bounties on snakes in Delhi, India; rats in Hanoi, Vietnam; and feral pigs in Fort Benning, Georgia. In each case, bounty seekers came up with creative ways to maximize their payoff – and pest populations grew. Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt talk about how incentives don’t always work out the way we expect them to. Later in the hour, if you want to write a book about Winston Churchill, you are going to have to pay. The Churchill estate is intensely protective of Sir Winston’s copyright, so much so that if you write a book about him, you are likely to go into the red. Stephen Dubner talks about who owns words, and what it will cost you to write a book about Churchill.