How Much Better Do You Really Want to Be? (NSQ, Ep. 45)

Also: why do we pad our speech with so much filler language?

Pete Docter: “What If Monsters Really Do Exist?” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 21)

He’s the chief creative officer of Pixar, and the Academy Award-winning director of Soul, Inside Out, Up, and Monsters, Inc. Pete Docter and Steve talk about Pixar’s scrappy beginnings, why it costs $200 million to make an animated film, and the movie moment that changed Steve’s life.

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

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? Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on […]

How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself? (Bonus)

In a word: networks. Once it embraced information as its main currency, New York was able to climb out of a deep fiscal (and psychic) pit. Will that magic trick still work after Covid? In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Kurt Andersen interviews Thomas Dyja, author of New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation.

Is Empathy in Fact Immoral? (NSQ Ep. 44)

Also: is it better to “go with the wind” or to “be the wind”?

John Donohue: “I’m Frequently Called a Treasonous Enemy of the Constitution.” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 20)

He’s a law professor with a Ph.D. in economics and a tendency for getting into fervid academic debates. Over 20 years ago, he and Steve began studying the impact of legalized abortion on crime. John and Steve talk about guns, the death penalty, the heat they took from their joint research, and why it’s frustratingly difficult to prove truth in the social sciences.

Are You Ready for a Fresh Start? (Ep. 455)

Behavioral scientists have been exploring if — and when — a psychological reset can lead to lasting change. We survey evidence from the London Underground, Major League Baseball, and New Year’s resolutions; we look at accidental fresh starts, forced fresh starts, and fresh starts that backfire. And we wonder: will the pandemic’s end provide the biggest fresh start ever?

What Do We Really Learn From Failure? (NSQ Ep. 43)

Also: What is teasing supposed to accomplish?

Marina Nitze: “If You Googled ‘Business Efficiency Consultant,’ I Was the Only Result.” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 19)

At 27— and without a college degree — she was named chief technology officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, Marina Nitze is trying to reform the foster care system. She tells Steve how she hacked the V.A.’s bureaucracy, opens up about her struggle with Type 1 diabetes, and explains how she was building websites for soap opera stars when she was just 12 years old.

Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished? (Ep. 454)

Americans are so accustomed to the standard intersection that we rarely consider how dangerous it can be — as well as costly, time-wasting, and polluting. Is it time to embrace the lowly, lovely roundabout?

How Does When You Are Born Affect Who You Are? (NSQ Ep. 42)

Also: how did Angela do with her no-sugar challenge?