Any Strategic Reading Tips for a Survivor Applicant?

From a computer scientist (and self-professed “data nerd”) named Scott Griggs: Hi!  Long time reader/listener here, looking for some quick reading list recommendations… I have submitted another application to be on CBS’s Survivor, the reality show of outwit, outplay, outlast fame.  The game is physical as well as mental and includes a large social aspect […]

Bring Us Your Questions for the Next Meeting of the Think Like a Freak Book Club

We just released our first installment of the Think Like a Freak Book Club. How does this work? You send in your questions/comments/complaints about the book and we respond in our podcast.

The first installment ("How to Screen Job Applicants, Act Your Age, and Get Your Brain Off Autopilot") covered Chapters 1-3 of Think. Now it's time for you to send in questions for Chapters 4, 5, and 6 (see Table of Contents, below). If your question ends up in the podcast, we’ll send you a signed copy of Think Like a Freak or a limited edition Think Like a Freak t-shirt. So fire away!

A Freakonomics Proposal to Help the British National Health Service

In the first chapter of our new book, Think Like a Freak, we recount an ill-fated interaction that Dubner and I had with David Cameron shortly before he was elected Prime Minister of the U.K. (In a nutshell, we joked with Cameron about applying the same principles he espoused for health care to automobiles; it turns out you don’t joke with Prime Ministers!)

That story has riled up some people, including an economics blogger named Noah Smith, who rails on us and defends the NHS.

I should start by saying I have nothing in particular against the NHS, and I also would be the last one to ever defend the U.S. system.   Anyone who has ever heard me talk about Obamacare knows I am no fan of it, and I never have been.

Saying “I Don’t Know” in the Navy, the Classroom, and Beyond

The best part of publishing a new book -- besides the media blitz -- is learning which stories resonate with readers and podcast listeners, and how.

One great example is the book's second chapter, "The Three Hardest Words in the English Language," which is about how  people are reluctant to say "I don't know" when in fact they don't know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem.

We explored this topic in last week's podcast, and I wanted to share with you some of the most interesting feedback.

Join the Think Like a Freak Book Club — and Win an Autographed Copy!

Our new book, Think Like a Freak, has just been published and we'd like to talk about it with you. So we are forming the Think Like a Freak Book Club.

How does it work? You write in your questions/comments/complaints in the comments section below and we'll respond to some of them in our podcast. For now, we're planning to do three episodes of the Book Club. (But if you know us even a little bit, you know we won't be afraid to quit after one if it doesn't work out!) Since there are nine chapters in the book, let's start with  questions that pertain to Chapter 1, 2, and 3 of Think. Those are: “What Does It Mean to Think Like a Freak?,” “The Three Hardest Words in the English Language,” and “What’s Your Problem?”

If we choose your question for the podcast, we’ll send you a signed copy of Think Like a Freak or a limited edition Think Like a Freak t-shirt. Thanks!

Is Thirteen the Perfect Age to Read Think Like a Freak?

From a friend whose young daughter Lea, around 13 years old, grabbed the copy of Think Like a Freak that I send my friend and "is now devouring it." But that's not the good part:

She woke up this morning and told me that she had dreamed last night that we were at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees were winning 12-0, and when Lea looked around, everyone in the stands was reading Think Like a Freak.

No kidding.

And here's a note from "an almost 13-year-old," Charlotte, which came over the transom:

And the Think Like a Freak Swag Goes to …

Last week, we offered some Think Like a Freak swag to the reader who came up with the best answer to the question "What Are the Three Hardest Words to Say?" Your answers were so good (and plentiful!) that we decided to choose three winners, each of whom can have their pick of a signed copy of our new book or a Think Like a Freak t-shirt. (If you didn't win, there's another contest going on right now.)

Winner No. 1 is Kris Fletcher, the first (of many) to provide the same answer we provide in the book: "I don't know."

Winner No. 2 is Bob S., who plainly gets the spirit of the Levitt-Dubner collaboration, with "Good point, Dubner."

And Winner No. 3 is Jake. While a lot of people answered "I was wrong," Jake had a similar take but opted for "I've no excuse," making a case for why that's even tougher than "I was wrong":

“I was wrong” seems to be a common phrase people are mentioning, but I think admitting you are wrong is easy if you don’t have to admit that your inner processes were wrong. All the time, you hear people say something like, “Oh, I was wrong about that, but I didn’t have the data I needed at the time.” Very rarely do you hear someone take full blame for their actions without at least assigning partial blame elsewhere. Admitting that you and you alone were in the wrong is much harder.

Book Tour Advice From a Reader

Think Like a Freak is out today, and so the book tour begins.

In our latest podcast, Levitt talked about how much he dreads going on book tours. He claims to not like being the center of attention, and having to talk to so many people. (Between you and me, I'm not sure he hates it as much as he says.)

Hearing Levitt's complaints, a listener named Cy Helm has written in with some advice for Levitt.

Think Like a Freak Is Out Today — Win a Signed Copy Here!

Today's the day: Think Like a Freak has just been published. Levitt and I will spend a lot of the next few weeks doing interviews for various TV, radio, print, web, and other media outlets. So how about we spice things up a bit and, at the same time, give you the chance to win a signed copy? (Winners of last week's giveaway contest will be announced later today.)

Here's the deal: in the comments section below, enter a word or short phrase that you'd like us to slip into one of our interviews. If we use your secret phrase, you win a signed copy of Think Like a Freak (or, if you prefer, a Think t-shirt).

Seven Million Copies Sold

Once in a while, we get a report from our publishers about how many copies of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics have been sold around the world. Last we heard -- it was a while ago -- we were at 5 million.

The latest report tells us we've just breached the 7 million mark. Here's a rough breakdown:
• United States: 4.4 million
•United Kingdom: 1.65 million
•Translated editions: 1 million

With the global population at around 7 billion, those 7 million copies represent a nice round number: 1 book sold for every 1,000 people on the planet.

With Think Like a Freak coming out next week, I hope we get to 10 million copies before there are 10 billion people on Earth.