Season 7, Episode 10 This week on Freakonomics Radio: What would be the best universal language? Stephen J. Dubner explores votes for English, Indonesian, and … Esperanto! The search for a common language goes back millennia, but so much still gets lost in translation. Will technology finally solve that? To find out more, check out the […]
Season 6, Episode 41 This week on Freakonomics Radio: Stephen J. Dubner talks about what gossip is and isn’t; about the characteristics of the people who produce and consume gossip; and about the functions of gossip, good and bad. Plus: what do our online searches say about our true selves? In the real world, everybody lies. […]
Our latest podcast is called “Everybody Gossips (and That’s a Good Thing).” (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; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
In the show, Stephen Dubner talks about what gossip is, or isn’t; about the characteristics of the people who produce and consume gossip; and about the functions of gossip, good and bad. You'll hear from our usual assortment of professors and theorists but also from TV/movie star Adrian Grenier (talking about what it's like to be the subject of gossip) and Nick Denton, the publisher of Gawker (whose tagline is “Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news”).
Our latest podcast is called "Who Runs the Internet?" (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; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
It begins with Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt talking about whether virtual mayhem -- from online ranting to videogame violence -- may help reduce mayhem in the real world. There is no solid data on this, Levitt says, but he hypothesizes:
LEVITT: Maybe the biggest effect of all of having these violent video games is that they’re super fun for people to play, especially adolescent boys, maybe even adolescent boys who are prone to real violence. And so if you can make video games fun enough, then kids will stop doing everything else. They’ll stop watching TV, they’ll stop doing homework, and they’ll stop going out and creating mayhem on the street.
This episode then moves on to a bigger question about the Internet itself: who runs it? As Dubner asks: "Who’s in charge of the gazillions of conversations and transactions and character assassinations that happen online every day?"