Do Not Read This Unless You Have Already Listened to “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”

(Photo: Janice Yi)

Malcolm Gladwell at the debut of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” (Photo: Janice Yi)

Our latest podcast is called “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” It’s the debut of a live game show with audience contestants and celebrity judges, including Malcolm Gladwell. In the final round, the judges team up with contestants to play for the grand prize. If you’ve already listened, you’ll know that Malcolm and his partner were asked to tell us all something we don’t know about bread, and Malcolm came up with an intriguing fact that, upon a quick fact-check, turned out to be wrong. Oops! But as it turns out, Malcolm wasn’t so much wrong as he was confused about the type of bread. Here, from Malcolm himself, is the explanation:

At the end of the inaugural “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” I stated — with great certainty — that one thing people didn’t know was that focaccia was not some deeply rooted Italian specialty dating back to Roman times. It was invented by some guy in Milan in the 1970’s. Wrong!  Focaccia is a deeply rooted Italian specialty dating back to Roman times. It is ciabatta that was invented by some guy in Milan in the 1970’s. Focaccia, ciabatta. Ciabatta, focaccia. I am an idiot.

No sir, you are not an idiot. And you are also a very good sport. Can’t wait for next edition of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”


Thanks for sharing. That was funny. (:

I am just finishing his new book and heard the podcast. I want more information, from both Malcolm and Freakonomics on the issue of the % increase in possibilities of kids who saw a parent arrested becoming delinquent and/or having psychological issues. The % increases were astronomical to me. That section made me feel good about how far I have gone in life (although not yet as meaningful as I have worked toward) because I did go through that more than once and must have jumped the hurdles of going in the wrong direction. Not sure how to make this an official question for Freakonomics, but you also need to read Malcolm's book to understand what I mean. Again, love your books and podcast!


Great episode!! Love the podcast and this was great. When's the next episode going to be?

Two points: (1) you should take 2 people from the first round. I mean, seriously, they go on for a quite a bit and then to only select the Pinball Guy? Which brings me to point (2), you guys really didn't know about the NYC Pinball Ban? I knew that!! And if I knew that... I thought for sure it was from your works (or Mr. Gladwell's writings) and that you were going to bust him on the spot.

Alas, I'm left scratching my head... "where on earth did I first learn that factoid?"


You might have picked up the pinball tidbit from the Stuff You Should Know podcast. In fact, the way this game show started, pinball, art theft, partner assessment...have all been covered in Stuff You Should Know podcasts!


I'm a Freakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell fan, listening to audio books in the car from way back.
I'm really a nerd when it comes to little known factoids and I absolutely enjoyed the podcast. I do a lot of car and air trips and prefer listening to shows like this while I'm driving or flying. It's light entertainment, fun and positive, what more could you ask for when you're enjoying your travel time.


I enjoyed your podcast of "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" as much as "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" In fact, if you are in discussions with NPR to put this program on the air, I will make an 'out of fundraising cycle' donation to that station.

Involving the audience with challenge of the "Lightning Round" is brilliant. We all should champion every effort to get people thinking about the world (and universe), around them. I applaud your efforts.


I liked the facts. I liked the panel. In general it was funny and interesting, but I really didn't like the scoring concept. At least not the way it was done on that show. It felt a lot like these competition reality TV shows - competitive cooking, competitive fashion design etc. That's almost the lowest form of TV and the similarity made me feel icky.

I don't know what the alternative is, but I found myself shutting it off or skipping ahead during the scoring. Not sure if it was annoying enough to keep me from listening again, but it definitely stood out to me as a hang-up.

You all are doing very cool stuff. Keep it up.

science minded

Playin with my head? Guess I deserved it with playin with yours. But if that is the only way to catch your attention, then it was worth the risk. PS- working hard and afap!


It took a few stops/starts to gut my way through the first edition of TMSIDK. The things I enjoy about the regular podcast - in-depth, thoughtful analysis of a topic with expert, engaging guests - were missing here. In fact, the show is the exact opposite. It was more akin to the "Top 100 facts about XYZ" books you find in people's toilets, i.e. quick, snappy, little factoids without any depth.

Maybe this is by design: "If you hate the Freakanomics podcast because it's too thorough a coverage of one topic, stay tuned - we'll be doing the throwaway TMSIDK very soon" and "If you hate the bathroom reader factoid show, listen to our regular podcast". Malcolm Gladwell's probably never been so underutilized on a show in his life.

My request - keep pumping out the podcasts, and let the goofy, game show thing be positioned separately so you don't damage the overall brand, but instead are simply launching a "for kids" sub-brand.



Religious consumer of your content, truly do enjoy the books, podcasts, movie etc. Thanks for all you do. This particular podcast got me thinking about topic I'd love to hear a social economists approach to.

One social phenomenon I have been curious about for a couple years now is the "layaway angels" around the holiday season. (see article at the bottom) The gist is that anonymous people will pay down the balances of less fortunate families layaway accounts at big box stores around the holiday season in order to assure that children of less fortunate families will have presents for Christmas.

What's interesting about this is while some in the media have lauded the generosity of the good Samaritans, others have blasted them for rewarding people for buying items they can't afford. This contra argument was amplified more during the recession as the topic of consumer debt / spending was more prevalent. Another criticism was the movement was financially supporting (although marginally) big corporations (particularly Walmart) which have be have been know to not be particularly generous in paying their lower level workers. This goes to one of todays main talking points of income inequality that Walmart workers can't afford to shop at Walmart.

As previously stated I would love to hear your take on the situation.





Hi, Will there ever be a Chicago edition so Levitt can be there too? And maybe Rahm Emanuel as a guest? Loving Freakonomics! <3

Howard Myers

I like the concept and the interesting facts.your contestants and audience members are very well informed.
one thing that was a major disappointment was the scores some of the facts received.
I mean give me a break, be awesome Factor received more than one point for usefulness?
and the same to be said for the 'new' new year.
It was like all this wisdom followed by those choices was a non sequitur and it blew my mind.
I liked the almost roast atmospheredid you displayed.
I am not a game show person but I do like interesting facts.
I would say that for the first time, out of the gate, it did very well. By that I mean I will listen to the next show.


Wrong again.

According to wikipedia:
Ciabatta was first produced in 1982 by Arnaldo Cavallari, a baker and miller from Adria, a small town close to Venice in Veneto. Cavallari and other bakers in Italy were concerned by the popularity of sandwiches made from baguettes imported from France, which were endangering their businesses, so set about trying to create an Italian alternative with which to make sandwiches.

Ruard Ganzevoort

I am a loyal listener to your podcast and the ' tell me something I don't know' was the best... Entertaining, witty and lots of skeptical information :) Keep up the podcast I love it...

Mary TysonEnter your name...

I love the show and save up several eppisodes so that I can binge listen. I particularly loved the Tell Me Something I don't know concept. Great idea, lots of fun and learned a thing or two. Keep up the good work.

Oliver Breidenbach

Did you know that when you scroll down fast in the comments of this page, the Thumbs up - Thumbs Down graphic looks like the italian flag?


"Tell Me Something I Don't Know" was fantastic! I hope you do many more episodes of this!