How Sports Became Us (Ep. 349)

Dollar-wise, the sports industry is surprisingly small, about the same size as the cardboard-box industry. So why does it make so much noise? Because it reflects — and often amplifies — just about every political, economic, and social issue of the day. Introducing a new series, “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard.

Season 8, Episode 1 You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge […]

Is the Government More Entrepreneurial Than You Think? (Ep. 348)

We all know the standard story: our economy would be more dynamic if only the government would get out of the way. The economist Mariana Mazzucato says we’ve got that story backward. She argues that the government, by funding so much early-stage research, is hugely responsible for big successes in tech, pharma, energy, and more. But the government also does a terrible job in claiming credit — and, more important, getting a return on its investment.

The Cobra Effect (Rebroadcast)

Season 7, Episode 52 When you want to get rid of a nasty pest, one obvious solution comes to mind: just offer a cash reward. But be careful — because nothing backfires quite like a bounty. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “The Cobra Effect” and “Who […]

Why You Shouldn’t Open a Restaurant (Ep. 347)

Kenji Lopez-Alt became a rock star of the food world by bringing science into the kitchen in a way that everyday cooks can appreciate. Then he dared to start his own restaurant — and discovered problems that even science can’t solve.

Two (Totally Opposite) Ways to Save the Planet (Ep. 346)

The environmentalists say we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption. The technologists say that human ingenuity can solve just about any problem. A debate that’s been around for decades has become a shouting match. Is anyone right?

How to Be Happy (Ep. 345)

The U.N.’s World Happiness Report — created to curtail our unhealthy obsession with G.D.P. — is dominated every year by the Nordic countries. We head to Denmark to learn the secrets of this happiness epidemic (and to see if we should steal them).

Has Lance Armstrong Finally Come Clean?

He was once the most lionized athlete on the planet, with seven straight Tour de France wins and a victory over cancer too. Then the doping charges caught up with him. When he finally confessed to Oprah, he admits, “it didn’t go well at all.” That’s because he wasn’t actually contrite yet. Now, five years later, he says he is. Do you believe him?

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Interview With Jean Van de Velde

Here is the full transcript of our interview with the golfer Jean Van de Velde as featured in the Freakonomics Radio episode “Why We Choke Under Pressure (and How Not To).”

People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard.

You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge at a time.