On Freakonomics Radio this week, we dare to ask whether civics class answers for why we pay attention to the news are really true. Could it be that we read about war, politics, etc. simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?
This week on Freakonomics Radio, we were inspired by a fascinating research paper called “Suspense and Surprise” by the economists Jeffrey Ely, Alexander Frankel, and Emir Kamenica. We speak with all three of them about what makes a particular sport suspenseful (or boring), what makes a movie thrilling (or, as in the case of M. Night Shyamalan, increasingly not), and why these things are worth discussing within the realm of economics. We’ll also hear from practitioners of the art of suspense, including novelist Harlan Coben.
There are all kinds of civics-class answers to that question. But how true are they? Could it be that we like to read about war, politics, and miscellaneous heartbreak simply because it’s (gasp) entertaining?
In this episode, we try to answer a few questions: Why is soccer the best sport? How has Harlan Coben sold 70 million books? And why does “Apollo 13” keeps you enthralled even when you know the ending?
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