In our podcast "Boo...Who?" , the Freakonomics Radio team went to the Apollo Theater, where booing is openly encouraged, in Harlem to check out its Amateur Night. The Apollo is credited with launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and The Jackson 5, and is famous for having a very tough crowd. You can hear all the booing from the Apollo on the podcast (download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or read the transcript here) and check out the photos here.
A new study (PDF here) by University of Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles and graduate student Elizabeth Munnich finds that siblings spaced more than two years apart have higher reading and math scores than children born closer together. The positive effects were seen only in older siblings, not in younger ones.
The authors attribute at least part of the difference to older children getting more of their parents’ time during the first formative years of their lives before a younger sibling comes along.
A photograph of a river, some grass, and sky was auctioned at Christie's in New York last week for a record-setting $4,338,500 to an unknown buyer. "Rhein II," created in 1999 by German artist Andreas Gursky, beat out Cindy Sherman's previous photo auction record of $3.89 million in May, 2011.
We can't repost an image of it, copyright and what not; though you can see it in the link above. But "Rhein II" measures 6 feet by 11 feet. The picture is one in a series of six photographs - the other five live in museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern.
The "word a day" theme this week is "words with unusual arrangements of letters." The first word in this series was "verisimilitude," which Garg notes has perfectly alternating consonants and vowels. (Not bad, Anu, but my son's name is even better, as it has perfect consonant-vowel symmetry while using only a single vowel: Solomon. An even longer example is Tunku Varadarajan's last name.)
"Verisimilitude" was followed by "syzygy" ("one could hyperpolysyllabically contrive a longer word having four Ys, but syzygy nicely lines up three of them organically in just six letters," Garg notes) and "yob" (the rare word created by spelling a different word backward).
But today's word is my favorite. It's "kine." Before you click this link, or look the word up elsewhere, try to guess what is unique about it. A slight hint: the answer is related to the topic of this post and, marginally, this one one too. The answer is below.
A new British study has found that people who scored well on IQ tests as children are more likely to be drug users as adults, especially women. Authors James White andG. David Batty published their study online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and looked at data from almost 8,000 people over several decades to test what habits and qualities are tied to drug use.
The results suggest that men with high IQ scores at 5 years-old are 50 percent more likely to use drugs by the age of 30 than those with low IQ scores. High IQ scoring women at 5 years-old are twice as likely to use drugs than their low IQ counterparts.
This is the full transcript for the Freakonomics Radio Marketplace podcast, “Unnatural Turkeys.”
Kai Ryssdal: Time now for a little Freakonomics Radio. It's that moment every two weeks where we talk to Stephen Dubner, the co-author of the books and the blog of the same name. It's about the hidden side of everything. Dubner, welcome back.
Stephen Dubner: Hey Kai, thanks. I've got a little Thanksgiving quiz for you. Are you up for that?
Ryssdal: No, I don't do quizzes. It's my show. All right, what?
Dubner: Well, I'm going to force you to.
Ryssdal: All right.
Dubner: All right, here we go. Americans will probably eat about 40 million turkeys this month. Now, I hope this doesn't kill your appetite, but what percentage of those 40 million birds do you think were the product of artificial insemination?
In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, we’re talking turkey, literally. (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript.) Americans are expected to eat more than 40 million of the big birds this month for Thanksgiving, so we asked the same question everyone's thinking: where do they all come from? The answer might surprise you – it certainly seemed to surprise Kai Ryssdal.
Specifically, the question is this: of all the commercially raised turkeys in the U.S., what percentage are the product of artificial insemination?
The answer, oddly enough, is 100 percent. Why? Well, it's a supply-and-demand story. Because Americans particularly love to eat turkey breast meat (a great delivery platform for gravy!), turkeys have been selectively bred over the years to have bigger and bigger breasts. So big, in fact, that when it comes time for a male turkey to naturally reproduce with a female, his massive breast prevents him from getting close enough to complete the act.