Why Do We Really Follow the News?

On Freakonomics Radio this week, we dare to ask whether civics class answers for why we pay attention to the news are really true. Could it be that we read about war, politics, etc. simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?

Why Do We Really Follow the News? A New Freakonomics Radio Episode

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called "Why Do We Really Follow the News?" (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, 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.) The gist: there are all kinds of civics-class answers for why we pay attention to the news -- but how true are those answers? Could it be that we read about war, politics, and miscellaneous heartbreak simply because it's (gasp) entertaining?

The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?

Season 3, Episode 3

Until not so long ago, chicken feet were essentially waste material.  Now they provide enough money to keep U.S. chicken producers in the black -- by exporting 300,000 metric tons of chicken “paws” to China and Hong Kong each year. In the first part of this hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner explores this and other examples of weird recycling. We hear the story of a Cleveland non-profit called MedWish, which ships unused or outdated hospital equipment to hospitals in poor countries around the world. We also hear Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold describe a new nuclear-power reactor that runs on radioactive waste.

The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) In it, we try to answer a few fundamental questions: how do we know that what we believe is true? How do we decide which information to trust? And how do we quantify risk -- from climate change to personal investments?

The program begins with Stephen Greenspan, a psychologist and an expert on “social incompetence” and gullibility. He knows from personal experience that even the smartest people can be duped into bad risk assessments, especially on the advice of people they trust.