The Health of Nations

Season 6, Episode 41 This week on Freakonomics Radio: for decades, G.D.P. has been a standard way of measuring living standards around the world. Martha Nussbaum tells Stephen J. Dubner that she’d rather use some better data. Plus: Steve Ballmer wants to know how the U.S. government actually using its G.D.P. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which […]

Hoopers! Hoopers! Hoopers!

As CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer was famous for over-the-top enthusiasm. Now he’s brought that same passion to the N.B.A. — and to a pet project called USAFacts, which performs a sort of fiscal colonoscopy on the American government.

“I Don’t Know What You’ve Done With My Husband But He’s A Changed Man”

Season 5, Episode 22 As we learned in last week’s episode, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been effective in reducing criminal behavior among teenagers in Chicago and former child soldiers in Liberia. This week we go to England, where behavioral-therapy workshops for low-level domestic violence offenders have achieved a 40 percent reduction in repeat incidents […]

Make Me a Match

Season 5, Episode 15

On this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio: sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Nobel Prize winner Al Roth. You’ll hear how Roth and others have revolutionized the organ-donor market. Plus, the amazing story of how one particularly selfless woman became the first link in a donor chain that gave life to many others.

Can You Be Too Smart for Your Own Good? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest podcast is called “Can You Be Too Smart for Your Own Good? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions.” (You can download/subscribe 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 this episode Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner field questions from podcast listeners and blog readers. (You can listen to earlier FAQ episodes here, here, here, here and here.) In this installment, they talk about circadian rhythms (no, not cicada rhythms) and whether modern life is killing us; the incentives for curing cancer; if you can be too smart for your own good -- which leads to a discussion of marriage markets and autism; whether legalizing gay marriage would affect the economy; and why people can be trusted to pay for bagels but not for music.

Once again, thanks for all of the great questions. As Levitt has said before, he really loves doing these FAQs, because ...

LEVITT: The questions we get are so strange that you never could have made them up. 

Keep 'em coming!

Why Is “I Don’t Know” So Hard to Say? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

This week’s podcast is a new installment of “FREAK-quently Asked Questions,” in which Levitt and I respond to queries you submitted on the blog. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript below; earlier FAQ podcasts can be found here and here.)

You had so many excellent questions! Sadly, we only had time to field a handful. Ty Spalding asked one of the most interesting: “Why do people feel compelled to answer questions that they do not know the answer to?” Levitt replies:

What I’ve found in business is that almost no one will ever admit to not knowing the answer to a question. So even if they absolutely have no idea what the answer is, if it’s within their realm of expertise, faking is just an important part. I really have come to believe teaching MBAs that one of the most important things you learn as an MBA is how to pretend you know the answer to any question even though you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. And I’ve found it’s really one of the most destructive factors in business -- is that everyone masquerades like they know the answer and no one will ever admit they don’t know the answer, and it makes it almost impossible to learn.