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Stephen J. Dubner

Water, Water Everywhere — But You Have to Stop and Think

What surprises lurk in our sewage? How did racist city planners end up saving Black lives? Why does Arizona grow hay for cows in Saudi Arabia? Three strange stories about the most fundamental substance we all take for granted.

2/28/24
52:36

The Musical Mr. Guerra

Stephen Dubner talks to composer Luis Guerra about his score for our series on Richard Feynman.

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2/23/24
49:22

Season 13, Episode 26

What happens when an existentially depressed and recently widowed young physicist from Queens gets a fresh start in California? We follow Richard Feynman out west, to explore his long and extremely fruitful second act. (Part two of a series.)

2/22/24
50:30

Is Google Getting Worse? (Update)

It used to feel like magic. Now it can feel like a set of cheap tricks. Is the problem with Google — or with us? And is Google Search finally facing a real rival, in the form of A.I.-powered “answer engines”?

2/21/24
63:26

Mr. Feynman Takes a Trip — But Doesn’t Fall

A wide-open conversation with three women who guided Richard Feynman through some big adventures at the Esalen Institute. (Part of our Feynman series.)

2/19/24
52:31

The Keeper of the Feynman Flame

Ralph Leighton reflects on his decades-long friendship with Richard Feynman.

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2/16/24
85:03

Season 13, Episode 25

From the Manhattan Project to the Challenger investigation, the physicist Richard Feynman loved to shoot down what he called “lousy ideas.” Today, the world is awash in lousy ideas — so maybe it’s time to get some more Feynman in our lives? (Part one of a series.)

2/15/24
50:30

The Vanishing Mr. Feynman

In his final years, Richard Feynman’s curiosity took him to some surprising places. We hear from his companions on the trips he took — and one he wasn’t able to. (Part three of a three-part series.)

2/14/24
68:27

“Apply Thinking to Everything”

Stephen Wolfram remembers his mentor Richard Feynman.

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2/9/24
53:53

Season 13, Episode 24

Michael Roth of Wesleyan University doesn’t hang out with other university presidents. He also thinks some of them have failed a basic test of good sense and decency. It’s time for a conversation about college, and courage.

2/8/24
50:30

The Brilliant Mr. Feynman

What happens when an existentially depressed and recently widowed young physicist from Queens gets a fresh start in California? We follow Richard Feynman out west, to explore his long and extremely fruitful second act. (Part two of a three-part series.)

2/7/24
59:36

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

They’re heading to the Super Bowl for the second time in five years. But back in 2018, they were coming off a long losing streak — and that’s the year we sat down with 49ers players, coaches, and executives to hear their turnaround plans. It’s probably time to consider the turnaround a success.

2/5/24
69:16

Growing Up Feynman

Michelle Feynman remembers her physicist father as the smartest person in the room, and then some.

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2/2/24
62:38

Season 13, Episode 23

We conclude our series on academic fraud. And later: 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. 

2/1/24
50:30

The Curious Mr. Feynman

From the Manhattan Project to the Challenger investigation, the physicist Richard Feynman loved to shoot down what he called “lousy ideas.” Today, the world is awash in lousy ideas — so maybe it’s time to get some more Feynman in our lives? (Part one of a three-part series.)

1/31/24
62:22

How to Make Better Choices (with Samantha Bee)

Stephen Dubner appears as a guest on the Choice Words podcast.

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1/26/24
47:50

Season 13, Episode 22

Can academic fraud be stopped? Probably not — the incentives are too strong. Scholarly publishing is a $28 billion global industry, with misconduct at every level. But a few reformers are gaining ground.

1/25/24
50:30

“A Low Moment in Higher Education”

Michael Roth of Wesleyan University doesn’t hang out with other university presidents. He also thinks some of them have failed a basic test of good sense and decency. It’s time for a conversation about college, and courage.

1/24/24
54:15

5 Psychology Terms You’re Probably Misusing (Replay)

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.

1/22/24
56:25

Editing Out Fraud

Talking science reform with Psychological Science editor Simine Vazire.

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1/19/24
49:29

Season 13, Episode 21

Some of the biggest names in behavioral science stand accused of faking their results. Last year, an astonishing 10,000 research papers were retracted. We talk to whistleblowers, reformers, and a co-author who got caught up in the chaos.

1/18/24
50:30

Can Academic Fraud Be Stopped?

Probably not — the incentives are too strong. Scholarly publishing is a $28 billion global industry, with misconduct at every level. But a few reformers are gaining ground. (Part two of two-part series on academic fraud)

1/17/24
69:12

Going Deeper with the Data Detectives

Uri Simonsohn and Leif Nelson are two-thirds of the blogging collective Data Colada, which has taken the lead in exposing shady research practices in psychology and related fields. They talk to Stephen Dubner about how fraud happens, how they spot it, and what it’s like to face a $25 million lawsuit.

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1/12/24
60:03

Season 13, Episode 20

Most travelers want the cheapest flight they can find. Airlines, meanwhile, need to manage volatile fuel costs, a pricey workforce, and complex logistics. So how do they make money — and how did America’s grubbiest airport suddenly turn into a palace? (Part 3 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)

1/11/24
50:30

Why Is There So Much Fraud in Academia?

Some of the biggest names in behavioral science stand accused of faking their results. Last year, an astonishing 10,000 research papers were retracted. We talk to whistleblowers, reformers, and a co-author who got caught up in the chaos. (Part one of two-part series on academic fraud)

1/10/24
79:43

Piloting the World’s Most Profitable Airline

Delta C.E.O. Ed Bastian explains how flying became safer than crossing the street, why the company bought its own oil refinery, and whether autonomous planes are the future.

Unlock access to this episode, and other exclusive content, by joining the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program. To sign up, visit the Freakonomics Radio show page on Apple Podcasts or go to freakonomics.com/plus.

1/5/24
49:31

Season 13, Episode 19

Thanks to decades of work by airlines and regulators, plane crashes are nearly a thing of the past. Can we do the same for cars? (Part 2 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)

1/4/24
50:30

Is the Supreme Court Dragging Us Down the Slippery Slope?

Legal commentator Dahlia Lithwick wonders whether slippery-slope arguments are sliding into dangerous territory.

Unlock access to this episode, and other exclusive content, by joining the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program. To sign up, visit the Freakonomics Radio show page on Apple Podcasts or go to freakonomics.com/plus.

12/29/23
50:33

Season 13, Episode 18

Air travel is an unnatural activity that has become normal. You’re stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of strangers (and strange smells), defying gravity and racing through the sky. But oh, the places you’ll go! We visit the world’s busiest airport to see how it all comes together. (Part 1 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)

12/28/23
50:30

“Thirty $3 Million Bets Is My Yacht”

Vinod Khosla on how venture capital is like religion, why institutions can’t innovate, and why he wasted an hour talking to us.

Unlock access to this episode, and other exclusive content, by joining the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program. To sign up, visit the Freakonomics Radio show page on Apple Podcasts or go to freakonomics.com/plus.

12/22/23
56:57

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