The Future (Probably) Isn’t as Scary as You Think

Season 6, Episode 36 This week on Freakonomics Radio: what is truly inevitable? Stephen J. Dubner speaks with Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly about why we shouldn’t be afraid of the future and the folly of prediction. Plus: why can’t we predict earthquakes? To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “The […]

New Freakonomics Radio Podcast: The Folly of Prediction

Fact: Human beings love to predict the future.

Fact: Human beings are not very good at predicting the future.

Fact: Because the incentives to predict are quite imperfect -- bad predictions are rarely punished -- this situation is unlikely to change.

But wouldn't it be nice if it did?

That is the gist of our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, called "The Folly of Prediction." This is the fourth of five hour-long podcasts we’ve been releasing recently. Some of you may have heard them on public-radio stations around the country, but now all the hours are being fed into our podcast stream. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript here.)

The Folly of Prediction

Season 1, Episode 4

Fact: Human beings love to predict the future.

Fact: Human beings are not very good at predicting the future.

Fact: Because the incentives to predict are quit imperfect -- bad predictions are rarely punished -- this situation is unlikely to change.

But wouldn't it be nice if it did?

That is the gist of our latest hour-long special of Freakonomics Radio, called "The Folly of Prediction." You can listen or download via the media player embedded inside the post, or read a transcript here. This program and four more hours are being broadcast on public-radio stations across the country this summer, and they’ll all wind up in our podcast stream in short course. See this map of where to find a public radio station near you that plays the show. And you can subscribe to the Freakonomics Radio podcast on iTunes or via RSS.

Freakonomics Radio: Why Can’t We Predict Earthquakes?

The Tohoku earthquake off the Japanese coast on March 11 measured 9.0 on the Richter scale. That’s the fourth-biggest recorded earthquake in the world since 1900, the worst in Japan since modern instruments were first used 130 years ago. The earthquake and the tsunami it triggered led to shocking damage -- loss of life, loss of property, all sorts of aftermath issues. But as shocking as the damage has been, the earthquake itself wasn’t all that surprising. Seismoloigists -- the scientists who study earthquakes -- know a great deal about where they’re likely to occur, and how serious they’re likely to be.