Can You Hear Me Now? (Ep. 406)

When he became chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai announced that he was going to take a “weed whacker” to Obama-era regulations. So far, he’s kept his promise, and earned the internet’s ire for reversing the agency’s position on net neutrality. Pai defends his actions and explains how the U.S. can “win” everything from the 5G race to the war on robocalls.

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Ep. 405)

Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code?

Does the President Matter as Much as You Think? (Ep. 404)

We asked this same question nearly a decade ago. The answer then: probably not. But a lot has changed since then, and we’re three years into one of the most anomalous presidencies in American history. So once again we try to sort out presidential signal from noise. What we hear from legal and policy experts may leave you surprised, befuddled — and maybe infuriated.

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06 08 2010

Why Would Major League Baseball Prohibit the Trading of Draft Picks?

My friend Jimmy Golen, writing for the Associated Press, tackles that puzzling question.

As another friend, the economist Richard Thaler, says in the piece:
I cannot think of any good reason why MLB would have such a rule, unless it is worried that the teams with the highest...

How the San Francisco 49ers Stopped Being Losers (Ep. 350 Update)

One of the most storied (and valuable) sports franchises in the world had fallen far. So they decided to do a full reboot — and it worked: this week, they are headed back to the Super Bowl. Before the 2018 season, we sat down with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and players as they were plotting their turnaround. Here’s an update of that episode.

The Opioid Tragedy, Part 2: “It’s Not a Death Sentence” (Ep. 403)

One prescription drug is keeping some addicts from dying. So why isn’t it more widespread? A story of regulation, stigma, and the potentially fatal faith in abstinence.

The Opioid Tragedy, Part 1: “We’ve Addicted an Entire Generation” (Ep. 402)

How pharma greed, government subsidies, and a push to make pain the “fifth vital sign” kicked off a crisis that costs $80 billion a year and has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

5 Psychology Terms You’re Probably Misusing (Ep. 334 Rebroadcast)

We all like to throw around terms that describe human behavior — “bystander apathy” and “steep learning curve” and “hard-wired.” Most of the time, they don’t actually mean what we think they mean. But don’t worry — the experts are getting it wrong, too.

The Zero-Minute Workout (Ep. 383 Rebroadcast)

There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it?

How Many Prince Charleses Can There Be in One Room? (Ep. 401)

In a special holiday episode, Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth take turns asking each other questions about charisma, wealth vs. intellect, and (of course) grit.

Why Is This Man Running for President? (Ep. 362 Update)

A year ago, nobody was taking Andrew Yang very seriously. Now he is America’s favorite entrepre-nerd, with a candidacy that keeps gaining momentum. This episode includes our Jan. 2019 conversation with the leader of the Yang Gang and a fresh interview recorded from the campaign trail in Iowa.

How to Hate Taxes a Little Bit Less (Ep. 400)

Every year, Americans short the I.R.S. nearly half a trillion dollars. Most ideas to increase compliance are more stick than carrot — scary letters, audits, and penalties. But what if we gave taxpayers a chance to allocate how their money is spent, or even bribed them with a thank-you gift?