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DUCKWORTH: I was going to say apple.  

DUBNER: Very close. Hippopotamus. 

*      *      *

DUCKWORTH: I’m Angela Duckworth.

DUBNER: I’m Stephen Dubner.

DUCKWORTH + DUBNER: And you’re listening to No Stupid Questions.

Today on the show: Is Stephen Dubner a hoarder? 

DUCKWORTH: Why can’t you just call 1-800-Got-Junk? 

DUBNER: Even Got Junk doesn’t want my junk. 

Also: Do you have a past, present, or future time perspective? 

DUCKWORTH: That Thanksgiving of 1989! There was never one like it.

*      *      *

Angela DUCKWORTH: Stephen, question for you. 

Stephen J. DUBNER: Okay. 

DUCKWORTH: I want to know about your quinoa cabinet. I want to know if it is still full or perhaps even overflowing. And really why I’m asking is, when you said that you keep buying box after box of quinoa and never cook any of it, I had to ask myself: Is Stephen a hoarder? 

DUBNER: So, first of all, I would say I’ve eased off on the quinoa purchase since you talked me through it. 

DUCKWORTH: Since I shamed you about it. 

DUBNER: Am I a hoarder? So, I would say that I don’t believe I am now or have ever been what is called a severe hoarder, where you accumulate so many books, or newspapers, or cuckoo clocks— 

DUCKWORTH: That you can’t make it to the front door. 

DUBNER: Right, that you have to have a goat path through your possessions. But I am certainly familiar with severe hoarding. I mean, I’ve encountered it several times in my life. Mostly in reporting, but some in personal life. And I did grow up in a home where we saved anything that could possibly be reused. But I think that had a lot more to do with being low-income than with the factors that tend to drive severe hoarding. 

DUCKWORTH: Well, I think this connection where you’re saying, “Oh, that was different because we didn’t have any money, so of course we had to hold onto everything,” and then hoarding beyond any kind of level of reasonable thriftiness, they are connected. 

The phenomenon of hoarding, which isn’t terribly well-understood, is thought to be an intuition or an impulse gone awry, and it’s like eating fatty, salty, and sweet things. We evolved to seek out really high-calorie things with sodium, etc. That worked well for many generations until we had so much to eat that that same instinct is serving us wrong. And maybe hoarding is the same way. That we have an intuition to hold on to everything, which is good, until you get to the 20th century. 

DUBNER: So, that makes some sense to me. But I don’t think that’s really how actual severe hoarding happens. From what I’ve read, it’s more usually driven by some kind of traumatic life event where you have come to believe that things have a value beyond what other people would think would be a realistic value, or that things are deeply irreplaceable, or that things are so essential that you cannot go on another day unless you have collected all six of your local newspapers and added them to the pile. So, I would distinguish between what you’re describing as an evolutionary need to conserve and reuse, and what seems to be a pathology to keep things well beyond the volume at which they’re useful. 

DUCKWORTH: Well, many pathologies, Stephen, are normal processes taken to their extreme. And so we could both be right. 

DUBNER: We could both be right. And then there’s the question of whether hoarding only means physical things. Do you consider digital hoarding to be legit?

DUCKWORTH: Some researchers actually use the phrase “digital hoarding.” And that’s basically accumulating files and photos and so forth that you don’t want to part with. And just like regular hoarding, or analog hoarding, I guess, definitionally it’s dysfunctional. In other words, it’s getting in the way. But this instinct we have, to hold onto things, to not let go — we’re all on a continuum, and some of us like to do that more than others. And then, at the extreme, you have a hoarder.

I think you’re right also, though, to highlight that there is an element of obsessive compulsiveness to hoarding. And from what I know, and I’m not clinically trained, as you know, as a psychologist — I merely do research — but my understanding of O.C.D. is that the O part, the obsession part, is a thought. And then the compulsion part is a behavior. And very often the thought is some distressing thought like, “Oh, no. If I throw this away, bad things are going to happen.” 

And then the disordered behavior is that you shove everything in the closet. So I think there is a very uncomfortable, obsessive thought that gets discharged or relieved a little bit when you engage in this behavior. And anyway, I don’t want to say that hoarding is not pathological because it obviously is.  

DUBNER: It’s also, we should say, dangerous, in that something like 25 percent of all fire deaths involve hoarding.  

DUCKWORTH: What?! That’s terrible. 

DUBNER: I’ve seen one study that found that hoarding is responsible for a quarter of all what they call “avoidable fire deaths.” Now, we should say, fire deaths have fallen so, so, so, so much. 

DUCKWORTH: Right, we’re talking about small numbers. But still, proportionally. 

DUBNER: Yeah. It makes sense. Because if you have a house full of newspapers, books, whatever, they’re pretty flammable, and they make it hard to get out, and they make it hard for other people to get in to rescue you. 

DUCKWORTH: During the pandemic, I’ve tried to get in more than 100 steps a day. So I take a walk around the neighborhood, and I have to say, there is this one house. I look up to the fourth floor, and you can’t see much, except for there’s a fan in the window, and then there’s all these obstructions, and then there’s this tiny sliver of light, which I think is the light that’s on in the room. And it only dawned on me gradually that this must be where a hoarder lives. And now I’m worried that they’re going to have a fire.  

DUBNER: And what’s your emotional response when you see that? Do you think, “Oh my God, thank goodness it’s not me?” Do you think, “That looks like a nice way to live?” 

DUCKWORTH: Well, I’m not an aspirational hoarder. I’m actually, if anything, the opposite. I have no sentimental bones in my body. I don’t hold on to photographs. 

DUBNER: Can we just say for every pathology, is there not an equally interesting pathology in the opposite direction?

DUCKWORTH: Right. We can overeat. We can undereat. We can worry too much. We can worry too little. 

 DUBNER: You can Marie Kondo every second life to the point where you throw away your parking receipt even before you have cashed it in. 

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I am sure that there are some people out there who have taken Marie Kondo to an unhealthy extreme and now have nothing to wear. 

DUBNER: Thrown out their spouse, their children. 

DUCKWORTH: They didn’t spark joy.  

DUBNER: Is there no circumstance that you can envision in your future where you will wish that you had possession of something that you’ve jettisoned?  

DUCKWORTH: You know, I had a call from my mom when she was moving from her home to a senior facility. And she said, “In the basement are all of your journals from when you were growing up, your diploma from college, and one or two sentimental stuffed animals. What do you want me to do with them?” And I said— 

DUBNER: “Burn ’em, mom. Burn ’em.”

DUCKWORTH: That’s exactly what I said. 

DUBNER: You’re kidding. 

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I don’t have them. I was like, “You know what? I’m too busy. Don’t worry about it.” 

DUBNER: So, I have to say, what you’re saying is chilling to me. But it’s also deeply admirable. I envy it. So, I think I would like to revise my earlier answer and say that, yes, I think I do hoard, especially when I hear you describe how you don’t hang on to anything. I don’t think of it as hoarding so much as being an aggressive self-monitorer of all kinds of supplies. 

DUCKWORTH: Like food or—? 

DUBNER: You name it. Yeah, food. So, I typically have in my home, enough food— If 100 people came over right now unannounced, I could feed them. 


DUBNER: Yeah. But I think this stems, again, to my roots, because I grew up in the country where you kept a lot of food stocked for all kinds of reasons — in case the garden didn’t work out well, or in case the chickens got killed by a coyote, or if there was a storm and you couldn’t get to the grocery store for a while. 

DUCKWORTH: You always had canned vegetables in the cellar. 

DUBNER: Oh, thousands. I’m sure if you went back to that house now, 30 years later, you would still find the pickles and green beans. So I’m sure part of it is driven by that, even though my circumstances are different now. So I claim responsibility for that. 

DUCKWORTH: Look, I’ve been to your apartment. This is pre-pandemic. And I don’t think you’re a hoarder, unless you have another apartment where you’re keeping lots of stuff.  

DUCKWORTH: I do have another apartment where I keep lots of stuff, which is called my office. So my office, it’s a one-bedroom apartment. And most people wouldn’t think that just a writer, a guy like me, would need a whole other apartment. But in fact, I do. And it is full of mostly work product — things from my working life, from the last many, many, many years. I probably have 40, 50, 60 crates of notes and research material from all the things I wrote in the first maybe 15 or 20 years that I worked as a writer and journalist. 

DUCKWORTH: You have all your notes? 

DUBNER: I do. 

DUCKWORTH: You’re not parting with those anytime soon? 

DUBNER: It’s been a struggle for me. I’ll be honest with you. I’ve come up with many plans and strategies, none of which I’ve carried out. The only progress I’ve made is this: In the last maybe eight or 10 years, I’ve stopped saving anything. 

DUCKWORTH: Okay, so you’re not accumulating more stuff. You just can’t get rid of the old stuff. 

DUBNER: Correct. 

DUCKWORTH: And why? Why can’t you just call 1-800-GOT-JUNK? 

DUBNER: Even GOT JUNK doesn’t want my junk. 

DUCKWORTH: GOT JUNK will take it. I don’t know where they put it. I don’t want to think about where they put it.

DUBNER: Well, I don’t need to call GOT JUNK for paper. 

DUCKWORTH: Oh, that’s true. You could recycle that. Why don’t you do that?  

DUBNER: I don’t know. I think for the same reason I’m having a hard time answering your question today of whether I’m a hoarder or not. But I do feel— Okay, so I’m totally changing my answer now. If I believed, at the beginning of this conversation, that a hoarder was someone who had an over-exaggerated or maybe unhealthy need to hang on to things, even if they were of no use or little use — and I thought that was other people. I thought that was the Collyer brothers, who kept their house so full of newspapers that I think a floor collapsed or something. 

I think I could have been a Collyer cousin, maybe, because I do have these crates, and crates, and crates that I feel have some value, even if just nostalgic. But yeah, I can’t pull the trigger. I can’t get rid of them. I did take these 40 or 50 crates of work product, and I did start to triage, and I did get rid of one or two categories entirely that I felt like I could let go of. But it was interesting because, when I was getting rid of them, I still had some regrets. And I’ll tell you what they were. They were the contracts for all the foreign editions of Freakonomics that we signed, when Freakonomics first came out.

DUCKWORTH: Like the Bulgaria contract. 

DUBNER: Exactly. We had contracts from, I don’t know, 60, 80 countries. And first of all, when they came in, I thought it was like an awesome document just to have. And then when I had many of them, they felt even more awesome in the aggregate. But at a certain point, I decided that I didn’t need the Bulgarian contract.  

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I don’t think you do, Stephen. 

DUBNER: I got rid of them. And it did feel good. And so I do envy your ability to purge like that. On the other hand, now that I’m talking about it, I’d love to be able to go pull out that Bulgarian contract. 

DUCKWORTH: I haven’t cured you. I think that’s the bottom line. 

DUBNER: I don’t know if there’s a good answer to this question. Well, your question was: Am I a hoarder? My answers were no, maybe, and yes. So, I guess there are many good answers, but I don’t know if there’s a good answer advice-wise. So, let’s say you’re talking to not me — someone who’s a little bit like me, who’s on the border of hoarding versus not hoarding. You are plainly the purger. 

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I’m a purger. 

DUBNER: Can you walk someone through the purging process, who may not have as easy a time of it as you?

DUCKWORTH: Well, for me, when you ask that question: Can you imagine a day where you’re going to really regret not having this? I can imagine a day where I was like, “Oh, I wonder what my fourth grade diary said anyway. That would be fun for me to go read.” I can envision that. But when I play out that movie in my head, I’m not weeping. I’m not distraught. I’m just like, “Yeah. That would be good.”

DUBNER: Are you laughing at the suckers who’ve hung on to all that stuff? 

DUCKWORTH: No. No judgment. I’m okay with other people being sentimental. I guess here’s my prescriptive recommendation. Wherever you fall on this continuum from a purger to a hoarder, I think you should ask yourself: How do I feel about that? And I don’t know how real hoarders would answer that. Maybe they would say, “I’m fine.”

But I think that for a lot of people who have, for example, obsessive compulsive disorder, they do have a really high level of distress. They don’t like having O.C.D. And I’m guessing that there are people who are hoarders who don’t want to be hoarders. Maybe the same is true of purgers, by the way. But I think as long as you can say, “I like where I am on the continuum.” And maybe let me also say this: As long as your roommate, family and neighbor are okay with where you are on the continuum, then the house is your house after all. So do what you will. 

DUBNER: This reminds me of a wise thing you said recently, I think quoting someone else, maybe even Harry Frankfurt, saying you have to distinguish between what you want and what you want to want. 

DUCKWORTH: That’s Harry Frankfurt. He said that was the definition of free will. 

DUBNER: And so, what I want is to save all these things. But what I want to want is to not save all these things. 

DUCKWORTH: Then I believe that Frankfurt would say you have a problem, and— 

DUBNER: I think we knew that. Thanks, Harry Frankfurt. That’s a big help. 

DUCKWORTH: I have an idea for you. Okay. Last week, I got a notice in the mail. Apparently some storage facility has been billing my credit card for what appears to be 10 boxes of documents that I can only infer are some kind of files or surveys that I must have collected when I was in graduate school. 

DUBNER: So, you’re saying you have a storage facility I can use to keep hoarding my stuff? Is that where we’re going with this? 

DUCKWORTH: Well, what I was going to say, Stephen, is what you’re going to do is you’re going to, on my behalf, call them and just say, “Whatever the hell it is. I don’t care. You can do with it what you like, but I’m not paying this bill anymore.” I think that would be, for you, very difficult to do. But maybe you can do it for me. 

DUBNER: Okay. 

DUCKWORTH: And that’s like a little baby step.  

DUBNER: All right, so I love how you’ve turned this. You’re getting me, who’s got a real problem, to solve your problem, which is not very large.  

DUCKWORTH: I’m getting you to do my clerical work, but I think there’s a little bit of upside there for you too. 

Still to come on No Stupid Questions: Stephen and Angela discuss how your perception of time can affect your mood and your memories.

DUBNER: It was the best trip ever, except for Angie, who was such a sourpuss.

*      *      *

DUBNER: So, Angela, let me follow up that hoarding-versus-purging question with a question that I think may speak to it in some way. This is drawn from a listener, whose name is Claire Jellison, who wrote to ask, “Why do some people spend so much time thinking about the past and others thinking about the future? What are the benefits of each?” 

DUCKWORTH: There is research on what’s called “time perspective” by Phil Zimbardo

DUBNER: Most famous for the Stanford prison experiment, which was wild and troubling and weird on many levels. 

DUCKWORTH: Yes. The very selfsame Phil Zimbardo. 

DUBNER: Who also went to the same high school, I believe, as Stanley Milgram


DUBNER: Stanley Milgram, most famous for the experiments at Yale, where he pretended to be shocking people, electric shocks, to see how others would respond to that.  

DUCKWORTH: Maybe it was a very sadistic high school or something. Okay. Well, Phil Zimbardo went on to study what he called “time perspective.” And he distinguished between having a preoccupation with the past, with the present, or the future. Obviously, everybody thinks about all three, but the question is: Where do you spend most of your conscious hours? And then he also went on to say there’s basically positive and negative versions of this. So, you could be past-positive. You could be past-negative, etc.

So, when you think about nostalgia and sentimentality, that’s past-positive orientation, where you like to relive glory days and remember “That Thanksgiving of 1989! There was never one like it.” So you can be in any of these buckets. But I think that if you ask the question: Why are we all capable, at least to some extent, of living in the past, being in the present, and then also looking forward to the future? Is that there’s a function to each of those things.

So, starting with the past, if you never thought about the past, if you were like in soap operas, how everybody’s always getting amnesia. Every season when the plot would lag a little bit, somebody would hit their head and then, “I can’t remember anything! Who am I married to?” So that’s a silly example, but it’s obviously dysfunctional not to be able to have any recollection of the past because you learn from the past. And even when you have negative memories of the past, like “I’ll never eat that again,” that’s not something you should forget. 

Present time perspective — these days, everyone wants to be mindful. So, I don’t think anybody needs a commercial for the benefits of being really aware of present experience. If you’re not attending to the present, you’re sort of missing out on your very life. But I think future orientation also has benefits. If you don’t think ahead, it’s of course less likely that your future, as it turns into your present, is going to be very good. So I think there’s a function to all of these perspectives. 

DUBNER: So, this is a fascinating topic to me, especially now that you’ve laid out the framework that you just did. Let me ask a few basic questions. How much do we know about how much different people think about past, present, and future? 

DUCKWORTH: Dan Gilbert and Matt Killingsworth have done experience-sampling studies. So, instead of asking you to take a long survey about your style of time perspective, this would be beeping you at random points throughout the day and more or less asking you, “What are you thinking about?” 

DUBNER: And that’s a much more accurate measure than reconstructing what you did for the past 24 hours or what not. 

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I mean, it’s hard for people to remember what they were really preoccupied with, especially when it comes to what your mind was doing, not what you are doing with your hands. So, Killingsworth and Gilbert find that around half the time, our minds are wandering away from what we’re doing in the present. It could be wandering backward. It could be wandering forward. And they also find that when you’re not present, you’re not mindful, you’re not thinking about exactly what’s happening to you and what’s at hand, you’re less likely to be happy. You’re more likely to be unhappy. 

DUBNER: What share of the time do you think that you are thinking about past versus present versus future? 

DUCKWORTH: I would say, five percent about the past. I mean, if I’m doing something, like writing a paper, I’m doing it. So if I define being present-minded generously, then I would say maybe 40 percent about the present. And the rest is the future.

DUBNER: Wow! That’s a lot of future. 

DUCKWORTH: What about you? 

DUBNER: I put myself down as 10 to 15 percent past, 60 to 70 percent present, and 20 to 25 percent future. And I thought that was a lot of future, but you blow me away in the future-casting. 

DUCKWORTH: I like your portfolio better than mine, honestly. 

DUBNER: I am a little bit more evenly allocated. So, if you’re really spending something like 55 percent of your time thinking about the future, what does that mean? 

DUCKWORTH: I plan what I’m going to do next week. And then, I’m always looking at my calendar to see what I’m going to do the next hour. But I think the reason why I gave you such a high number is that really it’s during those downtimes — you’re taking a shower, you’re brushing your teeth, you’re walking somewhere — and it’s during those lull periods that I think your mind could go to the past. And of those lull periods, Stephen, I think I’m mostly thinking about the future. 

DUBNER: Do you think that you think a lot about the future because it is proven to be beneficial to you? Or do you think that’s just your default mode?  

DUCKWORTH: Oh, well, I am definitely not doing it because I read some research study that suggested that a future time orientation was beneficial. I mean, there are research studies showing that an optimistic and forward-looking outlook is beneficial, but that’s not why I tend to do it. Honestly, I’m not sure I know why I do it, except for I’m often trying to accomplish things. And the very definition of a goal is a desired future state, not a desired present state or desired past state. So maybe all my goal orientation gets me to think about the future a lot. 

DUBNER: I am curious about spending that much time thinking about the future because the evidence from the science of forecasting suggests that we’re really bad about seeing the future in any significant, predictive way. Do you feel like maybe you’re wasting some brain cells on that? 

DUCKWORTH: Well, I’m not necessarily spending my time making predictions like, “Who’s going to win the World Series?” Or, “What’s going to happen to the stock market?” When my mind wanders to the future, mostly I am planning.  

DUBNER: Understood. But every plan involves a number of variables that are hard to foresee.  

DUCKWORTH: Fair. So, here’s what Danny Khaneman would say. Most people would not say that they are hopelessly unable to predict what’s going to happen in their own lives. And I think Danny would say that what often happens is that, in your life— Say, for example I don’t know what you’re going to say, Stephen. 

DUBNER: Guess. It’s one word. It’s an animal. 

DUCKWORTH: Oh, I was going to say apple. 

DUBNER: Very close. Hippopotamus. 

DUCKWORTH: Oh, yeah. Really close. Apple. Hippopotamus. 

DUBNER: They have double p’s in them. Come on. 

DUCKWORTH: Okay, so pretty much the same thing. 

DUBNER: Yeah. 

DUCKWORTH: I wish you were, like, my eighth grade teacher. You’re like, “Apple? We’ll give her full credit.” Okay, but here’s the thing. Danny would say that if I actually said to myself, “I wonder what Stephen’s going to say.” And then I committed myself to saying, “Apple. He’s obviously going to say apple.” Then you would say, “hippopotamus,” and I would know that I was wrong.

But he said, what really happens in typical daily life is that we make these little predictions just a few minutes ahead. And then we are given the real information. And then we quickly just pivot. And we are like, “Yup. He said hippopotamus, just like I thought he was going to say.” 

DUBNER: Or as all the work in forecasting by Phil Tetlock, who is now your colleague at Penn, shows, which is that people are really, really good when their predictions turn out to be wrong, they’re really good at coming up with awesome explanations for why they weren’t really fully wrong. “Well, if I had known this development would have happened, then of course I would have predicted a different outcome.” But that’s the point of the future. It is hard to know it. Do you think we could all benefit from being a little bit more deliberate in moving from past to present to future? 

DUCKWORTH: I think that these questions of, “Where is my mind?” And, “How am I with that?” These are useful, right? Because if you feel like your answer to that question is, “Oh, I’m constantly thinking about the past. I’m a ruminator. I don’t want to be a ruminator.” Then, yeah, you could calibrate a little bit, or go see a therapist who can help you calibrate.

There is research linking anxiety— Anxiety, by the way, is not an unhealthy emotion. If you didn’t have anxiety, you’d be a psychopath. But there are clinical levels of anxiety, right? Severe anxiety, anxiety that’s not regulated, anxiety that you can’t shut off. And that does tend to be a future-oriented emotion. 

DUBNER: What about depression? 

DUCKWORTH: Depression is past-oriented. Depression is an emotion that is associated with loss. So it’s looking backward at something that you had. I was just listening to “Yesterday,” the Beatles song. Yesterday—

DUBNER: I’ve heard of that. 

DUCKWORTH: You’ve heard of that? You’ve heard of The Beatles? But if you just listen to the lyrics, they really capture this yearning for something you no longer have. And so I think that there can be clinical or dysfunctional levels of past thinking and future thinking, which is maybe why you get this recommendation all the time of being in the moment. 

DUBNER: When people think about or talk about “the good old days,” was it that they were good or just that that person was having a good time then? 

DUCKWORTH: Well, there’s plenty of research showing that we’re fully capable of distorting past experience. Probably the worst four days of my adult life were having to go on vacation with my father-in-law and the entire extended family. Don’t get me wrong, I love that side of the family. But we were trapped in Orlando. I know it’s supposed to be a magical place, but really, just everything that could go wrong on this vacation did go wrong. And any time you try to get 50 people to do anything at the same time, it’s bad. 

So, we go on this terrible vacation. I remember distinctly that there was a hurricane warning and they had to evacuate, and so we all got to go home one day early. And I literally kissed the ground with joy. I was like, “Oh, my God, it’s a four-day vacation, not a five-day vacation.” So we get home, and I recall exactly everything that went wrong and how terrible it was. But to hear my father-in-law talk about it? It was like— 

DUBNER: Best trip ever. 


DUBNER: Well for him, it was. 


DUBNER: I’m sure he said, when you weren’t around, he said, “It was the best trip ever, except for Angie, who was such a sourpuss.” 

*      *      *

No Stupid Questions is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network, which also includes Freakonomics Radio and People I (Mostly) Admire, a new podcast hosted by Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt. This episode was produced by me, Rebecca Lee Douglas. And now here is a fact-check of today’s conversations.

In the first half of the episode, Angela notes that there is an element of obsessive-compulsiveness to hoarding. Hoarding was actually classified under obsessive-compulsive disorder in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the D.S.M. IV. The D.S.M.V, however, released in 2013, classifies hoarding as an entirely separate disorder, although individuals with hoarding disorder may receive a comorbid diagnosis of O.C.D. 

Later, Stephen references the infamous Collyer brothers, who he says kept their house so filled with newspapers that a floor collapsed. The truth of the matter is actually even more disturbing. Langley and Homer Collyer were reclusive brothers who lived in a Harlem brownstone that contained not just newspapers but 120 tons of junk — including 14 grand pianos, parts of a model-T Ford, and more than 3,000 books. In 1947, Langley died in an avalanche of material after tripping one of his many booby traps that he had created in a paranoid state. Homer, who was paralyzed, starved to death soon after. New York City firefighters still refer to emergency hoarding situations as “Collyers.”

Finally, Angela suggests that 1-800-GOT-JUNK might be the solution to Stephen’s problems. But she says that she doesn’t know where the company puts the trash that they collect, and she doesn’t want to think about where it might end up — presumably, talking about landfills. 1-800-GOT-JUNK is a Canadian disposal company operating in the United States, Canada and Australia. A 2009 environmental audit of GOT JUNK revealed that the company either recycled or donated over 60 percent of what it collected. They also offer free pickup and delivery of any materials for charity. However, the company’s website notes that participants cannot donate certain objects, including: swords, bullets, hazardous chemicals and old batteries. The franchise regularly participates in the popular A&E television series Hoarders. That’s it for the fact-check.

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No Stupid Questions is produced by Freakonomics Radio and Stitcher; our staff includes Alison Craiglow, Greg Rippin and James Foster. Our intern is Emma Tyrell. Our theme song is “And She Was” by Talking Heads — special thanks to David Byrne and Warner Chappell Music. If you’d like to listen to the show ad-free, subscribe to Stitcher Premium. You can also follow us on Twitter at NSQ_Show and on Facebook @NSQShow. If you have a question for a future episode, please email it to And if you heard Stephen or Angela drop a reference to something you’d like to learn more about, you can check out, where we link to all of the books, studies and experts that you heard about here today. Thanks for listening! 

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DUCKWORTH: So, sometimes it’s like, what am I gonna make for dinner? I’ve already made spinach last night, so maybe I should do… 

DUBNER: That’s the past. Hang on. Can’t count that as future. Spinach last night is past. 

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  • Marie Kondo, tidying expert and star of the show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”
  • Harry G. Frankfurt, professor of philosophy at Princeton University.
  • Philip Zimbardo, professor of psychology at Stanford University.
  • Stanley Milgram, former professor of social psychology at Harvard University.
  • Daniel Kahneman, professor of psychology at Princeton University.
  • Philip Tetlock, professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.



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