In Search of Some Freakonomics Guinea Pigs

A few weeks back, we launched Freakonomics Experiments, a website designed to help you make both big and small decisions in your life when you’re feeling stuck. First, we try to get you thinking differently about the choices with the hope you can figure it out on your own. If that fails, we flip a coin to help you decide.

Now, we are looking for a handful of folks who are willing to take it to a whole other level. We are looking for an intrepid few who, in the name of Freakonomics, are willing to let a coin toss decide a handful of life decisions. We want to get to know you, watch your life unfold at the mercy of fate, and make you characters in our next book.

If you think you have what it takes, fill out the online application and you just may be one of the few, the not-so-proud, the Freak guinea pigs.

Sean Hicks

I just filled my Q form but left some stuff out. Full-time College student. Chronically single but great with people. No present-day job but with training & skills, exp.

Dave K

You won't get much of a random sample. Only certain types of people will be willing to let chance decide life decisions.


I'm not willing to cede even more of my life to chance, but do want to relate a story about how arbitrariness. There was a highly demanding professor of plant taxonomy at the institution where I was enrolled in graduate studies in the 1970s. He had taught students for years in the classical methods and covered all of the important (in the sense of major or especially interesting, to botanists at least) plant families until one year he discovered statistics, no doubt as a result of the computational advances making their way into the discipline. One semester he decided to assign each family a number and to draw them randomly to make up the list to be covered since there was time enough for only a fraction of all plant families to be examined. His students, all upper level students planning careers that depended on the knowledge they would acquire in taxonomy, were dismayed. Random chance would deprive them of experience that other students and potential job competitors would have had. Of course they didn't consider that they would have to learn much on their own anyway, once this course had trained them in the basic skills. They also didn't consider that exposure to some of the obscure families left out in previous years just might teach them more, or at least other things. I don't know if it made a difference in the long run, but it produced enough consternation that they complained about it forcefully.


Nancy Brand

So what happened - did the professor hinder or hurt the chances of success - continue the story - don't leave me hanging!

Colleen W

Dave, more than you think probably. Having your decisions made for you takes away the personal guilt of the results if it doesn't go as you planned/hope. A lot of people like having major decisions made for them.


Isn't this a character in Batman?


You'll learn so much about how the type of person who would sign up for this differs from the rest of the population.


just ask the Briton who bet his life savings on black (or was it red?)