Until not so long ago, chicken feet were essentially waste material. Now they provide enough money to keep U.S. chicken producers in the black — by exporting 300,000 metric tons of chicken “paws” to China and Hong Kong each year. In the first part of this hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner explores this and other examples of weird recycling. We hear the story of a Cleveland non-profit called MedWish, which ships unused or outdated hospital equipment to hospitals in poor countries around the world. We also hear Intellectual Ventures founderNathan Myhrvold describe a new nuclear-power reactor that runs on radioactive waste.
Also in this hour: we look at the strange moments when knowledge is not power. Issues like gun control, nuclear power, vaccinations, and climate change consistently divide the public along ideological lines. Maybe someone just needs to sit down and explain the science better? Or maybe not. Dubner looks into the puzzle of why learning more only makes people more stubborn. And we look into conspiracy theories to see how people form their own version of the truth, even when the data contradict it.