How To Win A Nobel Prize

Season 5, Episode 44 This week on Freakonomics Radio, how to win a Nobel Prize. Host Stephen Dubner talks with Per Stromberg, one of the people who choose the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. And we learn as many of his secrets as we can pry out of him. Then, what happens after you win […]

Reasons to Not Be Ugly

Season 5, Episode 28

This week, Freakonomics Radio takes a look at the “beauty premium” and, conversely, the downside of ugly. Do cuter babies get more attention? Are good-looking students graded more charitably? How do ugly people fare in the marriage and labor markets?

Then, it isn’t easy to separate the guilty from the innocent — but a clever bit of game theory can help. The goal, as Steve Levitt puts it, is “to get the bad guys to come forward and tell you who they are.” It’s a trick that Levitt and Stephen Dubner, in their book Think Like a Freak, call “teaching your garden to weed itself.”

What Do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common? (Ep. 174)

This week’s episode is called “What Do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common?” (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, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The gist? It isn’t easy to separate the guilty from the innocent -- but a clever bit of game theory can help. The goal, as Steve Levitt puts it, is "to get the bad guys to come forward and tell you who they are." It’s a trick that Levitt and Stephen Dubner , in their new book Think Like a Freak, call "teaching your garden to weed itself."

In the episode you’ll hear what David Lee Roth and King Solomon have in common. Among the possibilities:

“Jane Austen, Game Theorist” (Ep. 132)

Our latest podcast is called “Jane Austen, Game Theorist.” (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.) 

It is an episode about, yes, Jane Austen and game theory. To which you might say ... wha?

Okay, a bit more explanation is necessary. Michael Chwe is an associate professor of political science at UCLA whose research centers on game theory and, as he puts it, "its applications to social movements and macroeconomics and violence -- and this latest thing is about its applications maybe to literature."

The literature in question? The novels of Jane Austen. Chwe discovered that Austen's novels are full of strategic thinking, decision analysis, and other tools that would later come to be prized by game theorists like those as the RAND Corporation just after World War II. (They included some of the brightest minds of the time, including Kenneth J. ArrowLloyd S. ShapleyThomas Schelling, and John Nash.) And so Chwe wrote a book called Jane Austen, Game Theorist.

Why the World Cup Is an Economist’s Dream (Ep. 6)

World Cup Edition: Steve Levitt on why the center cannot hold in penalty kicks, why a running track hurts home-field advantage, and why the World Cup is an economist’s dream. We’ve got a new Freakonomics Radio podcast for you. (Download/subscribe at iTunes here, get the RSS feed here, read the transcript here, or listen live […]