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Episode No.

Date
Length
No. 491

Why Is Everyone Moving to Dallas?

When Stephen Dubner learned that Dallas–Fort Worth will soon overtake Chicago as the third-biggest metro area in the U.S., he got on a plane to find out why. Despite getting stood up by the mayor, nearly drowning on a highway, and eating way too much barbecue, he came away impressed. (Part 1 of 2 — because even podcasts are bigger in Texas.)

1/19/22
50:52
No. 490

What Do Broken-Hearted Knitters, Urinating Goalkeepers, and the C.I.A. Have in Common?

Curses and other superstitions may have no basis in reality, but that doesn’t stop us from believing.

1/12/22
47:01
No. 489

Is “Toxic Positivity” a Thing?

In this special episode of No Stupid Questions, Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss the consequences of seeing every glass as at least half-full.

1/5/22
36:19
No. 488

Does Death Have to Be a Death Sentence?

In this special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt speaks with the palliative physician B.J. Miller about modern medicine’s goal of “protecting a pulse at all costs.” Is there a better, even beautiful way to think about death and dying?

12/29/21
57:45
No. 487

Is It Okay to Have a Party Yet?

In this special episode of Freakonomics, M.D., host Bapu Jena looks at data from birthday parties, March Madness parties, and a Freakonomics Radio holiday party to help us all manage our risk of Covid-19 exposure.

12/22/21
31:11
No. 486

“The Art Market Is in Massive Disruption.”

Is art really meant to be an “asset class”? Will the digital revolution finally democratize a market that just keeps getting more elitist? And what will happen to the last painting Alice Neel ever made? (Part 3 of “The Hidden Side of the Art Market.”)

12/15/21
46:10
No. 485

“I’ve Been Working My Ass Off for You to Make that Profit?”

The more successful an artist is, the more likely their work will later be resold at auction for a huge markup — and they receive nothing. Should that change? Also: why doesn’t contemporary art impact society the way music and film do? (Part 2 of “The Hidden Side of the Art Market.”)

12/8/21
50:48
No. 484

“A Fascinating, Sexy, Intellectually Compelling, Unregulated Global Market.”

The art market is so opaque and illiquid that it barely functions like a market at all. A  handful of big names get all the headlines (and most of the dollars). Beneath the surface is a tangled web of dealers, curators, auction houses, speculators — and, of course, artists. In the first episode of a three-part series, we meet the key players and learn how an obscure, long-dead American painter suddenly became a superstar. (Part 1 of “The Hidden Side of the Art Market.”)

12/1/21
56:45
No. 444

How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis? (Replay)

Patients in the U.S. healthcare system often feel they’re treated with a lack of empathy. Doctors and nurses have tragically high levels of burnout. Could fixing the first problem solve the second? And does the rest of society need more compassion too?

11/24/21
56:39
No. 483

What’s Wrong With Shortcuts?

You know the saying: “There are no shortcuts in life.” What if that saying is just wrong? In his new book Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life, the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy argues that shortcuts can be applied to practically anything: music, psychotherapy, even politics. Our latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

11/17/21
46:19
No. 482

Is Venture Capital the Secret Sauce of the American Economy?

The U.S. is home to seven of the world’s 10 biggest companies. How did that happen? The answer may come down to two little letters: V.C. Is venture capital good for society, or does it just help the rich get richer? Stephen Dubner invests the time to find out.

11/10/21
49:53
No. 481

Is the U.S. Really Less Corrupt Than China?

A new book by an unorthodox political scientist argues that the two rivals have more in common than we’d like to admit. It’s just that most American corruption is essentially legal.

11/3/21
59:42
No. 480

How Much Does Discrimination Hurt the Economy?

Evidence from Nazi Germany and 1940’s America (and pretty much everywhere else) shows that discrimination is incredibly costly — to the victims, of course, but also the perpetrators. One modern solution is to invoke a diversity mandate. But new research shows that’s not necessarily the answer.

10/27/21
55:56
No. 479

The Economist’s Guide to Parenting: 10 Years Later

In one of the earliest Freakonomics Radio episodes (No. 39!), we asked a bunch of economists with young kids how they approached child-rearing. Now the kids are old enough to talk — and they have a lot to say. We hear about nature vs. nurture, capitalism vs. Marxism, and why you sometimes don’t tell your friends that your father is an economist.

10/20/21
55:15
No. 478

How Can We Break Our Addiction to Contempt?

Arthur Brooks is an economist who for 10 years ran the American Enterprise Institute, one of the most influential conservative think tanks in the world. He has come to believe there is only one weapon that can defeat our extreme political polarization: love. Is Brooks a fool for thinking this — and are you perhaps his kind of fool?

10/13/21
46:39
No. 477

Why Is U.S. Media So Negative?

Breaking news! Sources say American journalism exploits our negativity bias to maximize profits, and social media algorithms add fuel to the fire. Stephen Dubner investigates.

10/6/21
51:17
No. 192

That’s a Great Question! (Replay)

Verbal tic or strategic rejoinder? Whatever the case: it’s rare to come across an interview these days where at least one question isn’t a “great” one. 

9/29/21
22:49
EXTRA

Extra: “This Didn’t End the Way It’s Supposed to End.”

The N.B.A. superstar Chris Bosh was still competing at the highest level when a blood clot abruptly ended his career. In his new book, Letters to a Young Athlete, Bosh covers the highlights and the struggles. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, he talks with guest host Angela Duckworth.

9/26/21
32:38
No. 476

What Are the Police for, Anyway?

The U.S. is an outlier when it comes to policing, as evidenced by more than 1,000 fatal shootings by police each year. But we’re an outlier in other ways too: a heavily-armed populace, a fragile mental-health system, and the fact that we spend so much time in our cars. Add in a history of racism and it’s no surprise that barely half of all Americans have a lot of confidence in the police. So what if we start to think about policing as … philanthropy?

9/22/21
48:58
No. 475

Why Does the Richest Country in the World Have So Many Poor Kids?

Among O.E.C.D. nations, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty. How can that be? To find out, Stephen Dubner speaks with a Republican senator, a Democratic mayor, and a large cast of econo-nerds. Along the way, we hear some surprisingly good news: Washington is finally ready to attack the problem head-on.

9/15/21
48:58
No. 474

All You Need Is Nudge

When Richard Thaler published Nudge in 2008 (with co-author Cass Sunstein), the world was just starting to believe in his brand of behavioral economics. How did nudge theory hold up in the face of a global financial meltdown, a pandemic, and other existential crises? With the publication of a new, radically updated edition, Thaler tries to persuade Stephen Dubner that nudging is more relevant today than ever.

9/8/21
58:47
No. 407

Is There Really a “Loneliness Epidemic”? (Replay)

That’s what some health officials are saying, but the data aren’t so clear. We look into what’s known (and not known) about the prevalence and effects of loneliness — including the possible upsides.

9/1/21
40:25
No. 473

These Jobs Were Not Posted on ZipRecruiter

In a conversation fresh from the Freakonomics Radio Network’s podcast laboratory, Michèle Flournoy (one of the highest-ranking women in Defense Department history) speaks with Cecil Haney (one of the U.S. Navy’s first Black four-star admirals) about nuclear deterrence, smart leadership, and how to do inclusion right.

8/25/21
50:06
No. 417

Reasons to Be Cheerful (Replay)

Humans have a built-in “negativity bias,” which means we give bad news much more power than good. Would the Covid-19 crisis be an opportune time to reverse this tendency?

8/18/21
53:45
No. 472

This Is Your Brain on Pollution

Air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million deaths a year and cost the global economy nearly $3 trillion. But is the true cost even higher? Stephen Dubner explores the links between pollution and cognitive function, and enlists two fellow Freakonomics Radio Network hosts in a homegrown experiment.

8/11/21
46:01
No. 471

Mayor Pete and Elaine Chao Hit the Road

While other countries seem to build spectacular bridges, dams, and even entire cities with ease, the U.S. is stuck in pothole-fixing mode. We speak with an array of transportation nerds — including the secretary of transportation and his immediate predecessor — to see if a massive federal infrastructure package can put America back in the driver’s seat.

8/4/21
49:08
No. 346

Two (Totally Opposite) Ways to Save the Planet (Replay)

The environmentalists say we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption. The technologists say that human ingenuity can solve just about any problem. A debate that’s been around for decades has become a shouting match. Is anyone right?

7/28/21
53:46
No. 470

The Pros and Cons of America’s (Extreme) Individualism

According to a decades-long research project, the U.S. is not only the most individualistic country on earth; we’re also high on indulgence, short-term thinking, and masculinity (but low on “uncertainty avoidance,” if that makes you feel better). We look at how these traits affect our daily lives and why we couldn’t change them even if we wanted to.

7/21/21
47:30
No. 469

The U.S. Is Just Different — So Let’s Stop Pretending We’re Not

We often look to other countries for smart policies on education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. But can a smart policy be simply transplanted into a country as culturally unusual (and as supremely WEIRD) as America?

7/14/21
50:19
No. 468

Nap Time for Everyone!

The benefits of sleep are by now well established, and yet many people don’t get enough. A new study suggests we should channel our inner toddler and get 30 minutes of shut-eye in the afternoon. But are we ready for a napping revolution?

7/7/21
38:33
No. 289

How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns? (Replay)

Nearly 2 percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?

6/30/21
27:23
No. 467

Is the Future of Farming in the Ocean?

Bren Smith, who grew up fishing and fighting, is now part of a movement that seeks to feed the planet while putting less environmental stress on it. He makes his argument in a book called Eat Like a Fish; his secret ingredient: kelp. But don’t worry, you won’t have to eat it (not much, at least). An installment of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

6/23/21
42:55
No. 466

She’s From the Government, and She’s Here to Help

Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, is as cold-blooded as any economist. But she admits that her profession would do well to focus on policy that actually helps people. Rouse explains why President Biden wants to spend trillions of dollars to reshape the economy, and why — as the first Black chair of the C.E.A. — she has a good idea of what needs fixing.

6/16/21
43:15
No. 465

Introducing a New “Freakonomics of Medicine” Podcast

Bapu Jena was already a double threat: a doctor who’s also an economist. Now he’s a podcast host too. In this sneak preview of the Freakonomics Radio Network’s newest show,  Bapu discovers that marathons can be deadly — but not for the reasons you may think.

6/9/21
23:09
No. 464

Will Work-from-Home Work Forever?

The pandemic may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean we’ll return to full-time commuting and packed office buildings. The greatest accidental experiment in the history of labor has lessons to teach us about productivity, flexibility, and even reversing the brain drain. But don’t buy another dozen pairs of sweatpants just yet.

6/2/21
48:34
No. 463

How to Get Anyone to Do Anything

The social psychologist Robert Cialdini is a pioneer in the science of persuasion. His 1984 book Influence is a classic, and he has just published an expanded and revised edition. In this episode of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club, he gives a master class in the seven psychological levers that bewitch our rational minds and lead us to buy, behave, or believe without a second thought.

5/26/21
58:03
No. 296

These Shoes Are Killing Me! (Replay)

The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece, far more functional than we give it credit for. So why do we encase it in “a coffin” (as one foot scholar calls it) that stymies so much of its ability — and may create more problems than it solves?

5/19/21
42:48
No. 462

The Future of New York City Is in Question. Could Andrew Yang Be the Answer?

The man who wants America to “think harder” has parlayed his quixotic presidential campaign into front-runner status in New York’s mayoral election. And he has some big plans.

5/12/21
42:38
No. 461

How to Stop Worrying and Love the Robot Apocalypse

It’s true that robots (and other smart technologies) will kill many jobs. It may also be true that newer collaborative robots (“cobots”) will totally reinvigorate how work gets done. That, at least, is what the economists are telling us. Should we believe them?

5/5/21
48:22
No. 460

The True Story of the Minimum-Wage Fight

Backers of a $15 federal wage say it’s a no-brainer if you want to fight poverty. Critics say it’s a blunt instrument that leads to job loss. Even the economists can’t agree! We talk to a bunch of them — and a U.S. Senator — to sort it out, and learn there’s a much bigger problem to worry about.

4/28/21
44:15
No. 459

Let’s Be Blunt: Marijuana Is a Boon for Older Workers

The state-by-state rollout of legalized weed has given economists a perfect natural experiment to measure its effects. Here’s what we know so far — and don’t know — about the costs and benefits of legalization.

4/21/21
35:24
No. 458

How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy

In this special crossover episode, People I (Mostly) Admire host Steve Levitt admits to No Stupid Questions co-host Angela Duckworth that he knows almost nothing about psychology. But once Angela gives Steve a quick tutorial on “goal conflict,” he is suddenly a fan. They also talk parenting, self-esteem, and how easy it is to learn econometrics if you feel like it.

4/14/21
51:26
No. 457

Is Dialysis a Test Case of Medicare for All?

Kidney failure is such a catastrophic (and expensive) disease that Medicare covers treatment for anyone, regardless of age. Since Medicare reimbursement rates are fairly low, the dialysis industry had to find a way to tweak the system if they wanted to make big profits. They succeeded.

4/7/21
53:28
No. 456

How to Fix the Hot Mess of U.S. Healthcare

Medicine has evolved from a calling into an industry, adept at dispensing procedures and pills (and gigantic bills), but less good at actual health. Most reformers call for big, bold action. What happens if, instead, you think small?

3/31/21
49:50
No. 405

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Replay)

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?

3/24/21
50:00
EXTRA

Extra: How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself?

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.

3/21/21
56:51
No. 455

Are You Ready for a Fresh Start?

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?

3/17/21
44:50
No. 454

Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished?

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?

3/10/21
45:18
No. 453

A Rescue Plan for Black America

New York Times columnist Charles Blow argues that white supremacy in America will never fully recede, and that it’s time for Black people to do something radical about it. In The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto, he urges a “reverse migration” to the South to consolidate political power and create a region where it’s safe to be Black. (This is an episode of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club.)

3/3/21
56:47
No. 225

Am I Boring You? (Replay)

Researchers are trying to figure out who gets bored — and why — and what it means for ourselves and the economy. But maybe there’s an upside to boredom?

2/24/21
39:12
No. 452

Jeff Immelt Knows He Let You Down

Not so long ago, G.E. was the most valuable company in the world, a conglomerate that included everything from light bulbs and jet engines to financial services and The Apprentice. Now it’s selling off body parts to survive. What does the C.E.O. who presided over the decline have to say for himself?

2/17/21
45:48
No. 451

Can I Ask You a Ridiculously Personal Question?

Most of us are are afraid to ask sensitive questions about money, sex, politics, etc. New research shows this fear is largely unfounded. Time for some interesting conversations!

2/10/21
42:04
No. 450

How to Be Better at Death

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who would like to put herself out of business. Our corporate funeral industry, she argues, has made us forget how to offer our loved ones an authentic sendoff. Doughty is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, she is interviewed by guest host Maria Konnikova.

2/3/21
57:38
No. 449

How to Fix the Incentives in Cancer Research

For all the progress made in fighting cancer, it still kills 10 million people a year, and some types remain especially hard to detect and treat. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, is nearly always fatal. A new clinical-trial platform could change that by aligning institutions that typically compete against one another.

1/27/21
44:55
No. 448

The Downside of Disgust

It’s a powerful biological response that has preserved our species for millennia. But now it may be keeping us from pursuing strategies that would improve the environment, the economy, even our own health. So is it time to dial down our disgust reflex? You can help fix things — as Stephen Dubner does in this episode — by chowing down on some delicious insects.

1/20/21
45:39
No. 447

How Much Do We Really Care About Children?

They can’t vote or hire lobbyists. The policies we create to help them aren’t always so helpful. Consider the car seat: parents hate it, the safety data are unconvincing, and new evidence suggests an unintended consequence that is as anti-child as it gets.

1/13/21
47:45
No. 446

“We Get All Our Great Stuff from Europe — Including Witch Hunting.”

We’ve collected some of our favorite moments from People I (Mostly) Admire, the latest show from the Freakonomics Radio Network. Host Steve Levitt seeks advice from scientists and inventors, memory wizards and basketball champions — even his fellow economists. He also asks about quitting, witch trials, and whether we need a Manhattan Project for climate change.

1/6/21
40:29
No. 266

Trust Me (Replay)

Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?

12/30/20
30:55
No. 445

Why Do We Seek Comfort in the Familiar?

In this episode of No Stupid Questions — a Freakonomics Radio Network show launched earlier this year — Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth debate why we watch, read, and eat familiar things during a crisis, and if it might in fact be better to try new things instead. Also: is a little knowledge truly as dangerous as they say?

12/23/20
36:56
No. 444

How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?

Patients in the U.S. healthcare system often feel they’re treated with a lack of empathy. Doctors and nurses have tragically high levels of burnout. Could fixing the first problem solve the second? And does the rest of society need more compassion too?

12/16/20
48:50
No. 443

A Sneak Peek at Biden’s Top Economist

The incoming president argues that the economy and the environment are deeply connected. This is reflected in his choice for National Economic Council director — Brian Deese, a climate-policy wonk and veteran of the no-drama-Obama era. But don’t mistake Deese’s lack of drama for a lack of intensity.

12/9/20
43:16
No. 205

Could the Next Brooklyn Be … Las Vegas?! (Replay)

Tony Hsieh, the longtime C.E.O. of Zappos, was an iconoclast and a dreamer. Five years ago, we sat down with him around a desert campfire to talk about those dreams. Hsieh died recently from injuries sustained in a house fire; he was 46.

12/6/20
61:39
No. 442

Is it Too Late for General Motors to Go Electric?

G.M. produces more than 20 times as many cars as Tesla, but Tesla is worth nearly 10 times as much. Mary Barra, the C.E.O. of G.M., is trying to fix that. We speak with her about the race toward an electrified (and autonomous) future, China and Trump, and what it’s like to be the “fifth-most powerful woman in the world.”

12/2/20
44:41
No. 441

Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 2: Digital)

Google and Facebook are worth a combined $2 trillion, with the vast majority of their revenue coming from advertising. In our previous episode, we learned that TV advertising is much less effective than the industry says. Is digital any better? Some say yes, some say no — and some say we’re in a full-blown digital-ad bubble.

11/25/20
51:19
No. 440

Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 1: TV)

Companies around the world spend more than half-a-trillion dollars each year on ads. The ad industry swears by its efficacy — but a massive new study tells a different story.

11/18/20
40:18
No. 439

Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears

The modern world overwhelms us with sounds we didn’t ask for, like car alarms and cell-phone “halfalogues.” What does all this noise cost us in terms of productivity, health, and basic sanity?

11/11/20
52:53
No. 438

How to Succeed by Being Authentic (Hint: Carefully)

John Mackey, the C.E.O. of Whole Foods, has learned the perils of speaking his mind. But he still says what he thinks about everything from “conscious leadership” to the behavioral roots of the obesity epidemic. He also argues for a style of capitalism and politics that at this moment seems like a fantasy. What does he know that we don’t?

11/4/20
47:31
EXTRA

Extra: Why the Left Had to Steal the Right’s Dark-Money Playbook

The sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh spent years studying crack dealers, sex workers, and the offspring of billionaires. Then he wandered into an even stranger world: social media. He spent the past five years at Facebook and Twitter. Now that he’s back in the real world, he’s here to tell us how the digital universe really works. In this pilot episode of a new podcast, Venkatesh interviews the progressive political operative Tara McGowan about her digital successes with the Obama campaign, her noisy failure with the Iowa caucus app, and why the best way for Democrats to win more elections was to copy the Republicans.

10/30/20
45:40
No. 437

Many Businesses Thought They Were Insured for a Pandemic. They Weren’t.

A fine reading of most policies for “business interruption” reveals that viral outbreaks aren’t covered. Some legislators are demanding that insurance firms pay up anyway. Is it time to rethink insurance entirely?

10/28/20
40:51
No. 436

Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog

As beloved and familiar as they are, we rarely stop to consider life from the dog’s point of view. That stops now. In this latest installment of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club, we discuss Inside of a Dog with the cognitive scientist (and dog devotee) Alexandra Horowitz.

10/21/20
57:37
No. 435

Why Are Cities (Still) So Expensive?

It isn’t just supply and demand. We look at the complicated history and skewed incentives that make “affordable housing” more punch line than reality in cities from New York and San Francisco to Flint, Michigan (!).

10/14/20
48:38
No. 434

Is New York City Over?

The pandemic has hit America’s biggest city particularly hard. Amidst a deep fiscal hole, rising homicides, and a flight to the suburbs, some people think the city is heading back to the bad old 1970s. We look at the history — and the data — to see why that’s probably not the case.

10/7/20
52:06
No. 433

How Are Psychedelics and Other Party Drugs Changing Psychiatry?

Three leading researchers from the Mount Sinai Health System discuss how ketamine, cannabis, and ecstasy are being used (or studied) to treat everything from severe depression to addiction to PTSD. We discuss the upsides, downsides, and regulatory puzzles.

9/30/20
53:33
No. 432

When Your Safety Becomes My Danger

The families of U.S. troops killed and wounded in Afghanistan are suing several companies that did reconstruction there. Why? These companies, they say, paid the Taliban protection money, which gave them the funding — and opportunity — to attack U.S. soldiers instead. A look at the messy, complicated, and heart-breaking tradeoffs of conflict-zone economies.

9/23/20
47:57
No. 408

Does Anyone Really Know What Socialism Is? (Replay)

Trump says it would destroy us. Biden needs the voters who support it (especially the Bernie voters). The majority of millennials would like it to replace capitalism. But what is “it”? We bring in the economists to sort things out and tell us what the U.S. can learn from the good (and bad) experiences of other (supposedly) socialist countries.

9/16/20
44:24
EXTRA

Extra: What if Your Company Had No Rules?

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings came to believe that corporate rules can kill creativity and innovation. In this latest edition of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Maria Konnikova talks to Hastings about his new book, No Rules Rules, and why for some companies the greatest risk is taking no risks at all.

9/12/20
60:37
No. 431

Why Can’t Schools Get What the N.F.L. Has?

Thanks to daily Covid testing and regimented protocols, the new football season is underway. Meanwhile, most teachers, students, and parents are essentially waiting for the storm to pass. And school isn’t even a contact sport (usually).

9/9/20
53:22
No. 356

America’s Hidden Duopoly (Replay)

We all know our political system is “broken” — but what if that’s not true? Some say the Republicans and Democrats constitute a wildly successful industry that has colluded to kill off competition, stifle reform, and drive the country apart. So what are you going to do about it?

9/2/20
56:36
No. 430

Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research?

We explore the science, scalability, and (of course) economics surrounding the global vaccine race. Guests include the chief medical officer of the first U.S. firm to go to Phase 3 trials with a vaccine candidate; a former F.D.A. commissioner who’s been warning of a pandemic for years; and an economist who thinks Covid-19 may finally change how diseases are cured.

8/26/20
60:31
No. 1

Steven Pinker: “I Manage My Controversy Portfolio Carefully”

By cataloging the steady march of human progress, the Harvard psychologist and linguist has become a very public intellectual. But the self-declared “polite Canadian” has managed to enrage people on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Steve Levitt tries to understand why.

8/21/20
42:24
No. 388

The Economics of Sports Gambling (Replay)

What happens when tens of millions of fantasy-sports players are suddenly able to bet real money on real games? We’re about to find out. A recent Supreme Court decision has cleared the way to bring an estimated $300 billion in black-market sports betting into the light. We sort out the winners and losers.

8/19/20
58:23
No. 429

Is Economic Growth the Wrong Goal?

The endless pursuit of G.D.P., argues the economist Kate Raworth, shortchanges too many people and also trashes the planet. Economic theory, she says, “needs to be rewritten” — and Raworth has tried, in a book called Doughnut Economics. It has found an audience among reformers, and now the city of Amsterdam is going whole doughnut.

8/12/20
43:59
No. 386

How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War (Replay)

Aisle upon aisle of fresh produce, cheap meat, and sugary cereal — a delicious embodiment of free-market capitalism, right? Not quite. The supermarket was in fact the endpoint of the U.S. government’s battle for agricultural abundance against the U.S.S.R. Our farm policies were built to dominate, not necessarily to nourish — and we are still living with the consequences.

8/5/20
46:40
No. 428

The Simple Economics of Saving the Amazon Rain Forest

Everyone agrees that massive deforestation is an environmental disaster. But most of the standard solutions — scolding the Brazilians, invoking universal morality — ignore the one solution that might actually work.

7/29/20
33:35
No. 427

The Pros and Cons of Reparations

Most Americans agree that racial discrimination has been, and remains, a big problem. But that is where the agreement ends.

7/22/20
42:10
No. 426

Should America (and FIFA) Pay Reparations?

The racial wealth gap in the U.S. is massive. We explore the causes, consequences, and potential solutions. Also: another story of discrimination and economic disparity, this one perpetrated by an international sporting authority. The first of a two-part series.

7/15/20
44:48
No. 425

Remembrance of Economic Crises Past

Christina Romer was a top White House economist during the Great Recession. As a researcher, she specializes in the Great Depression. She tells us what those disasters can (and can’t) teach us about the Covid crash.

7/8/20
52:01
No. 424

How to Make Your Own Luck

Before she decided to become a poker pro, Maria Konnikova didn’t know how many cards are in a deck. But she did have a Ph.D. in psychology, a brilliant coach, and a burning desire to know whether life is driven more by skill or chance. She found some answers in poker — and in her new book The Biggest Bluff, she’s willing to tell us everything she learned.

7/1/20
60:04
No. 423

The Doctor Will Zoom You Now

Thanks to the pandemic, the telehealth revolution we’ve been promised for decades has finally arrived. Will it stick? Will it cut costs — and improve outcomes? We ring up two doctors and, of course, an economist to find out.

6/24/20
54:10
No. 422

Introducing “No Stupid Questions”

In this new addition to the Freakonomics Radio Network, co-hosts Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss the relationship between age and happiness. Also: does all creativity come from pain? New episodes of No Stupid Questions are released every Sunday evening — please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

6/17/20
36:16
No. 421

How to Prevent Another Great Depression

Millions and millions are out of work, with some jobs never coming back. We speak with four economists — and one former presidential candidate — about the best policy options and the lessons (good and bad) from the past.

6/10/20
39:41
No. 420

Which Jobs Will Come Back, and When?

Covid-19 is the biggest job killer in a century. As the lockdown eases, what does re-employment look like? Who will be first and who last? Which sectors will surge and which will disappear? Welcome to the Great Labor Reallocation of 2020.

6/3/20
44:13
No. 389

How to Make Meetings Less Terrible (Replay)

In the U.S. alone, we hold 55 million meetings a day. Most of them are woefully unproductive, and tyrannize our offices. The revolution begins now — with better agendas, smaller invite lists, and an embrace of healthy conflict.

5/27/20
45:25
No. 419

68 Ways to Be Better at Life

The accidental futurist Kevin Kelly on why enthusiasm beats intelligence, how to really listen, and why the solution to bad technology is more technology.

5/20/20
39:35
No. 418

What Will College Look Like in the Fall (and Beyond)?

Three university presidents try to answer our listeners’ questions. The result? Not much pomp and a whole lot of circumstance.

5/13/20
58:16
No. 417

Reasons to Be Cheerful

Humans have a built-in “negativity bias,” which means we give bad news much more power than good. Would the Covid-19 crisis be an opportune time to reverse this tendency?

5/6/20
54:05
No. 416

How Do You Reopen a Country?

We speak with a governor, a former C.D.C. director, a pandemic forecaster, a hard-charging pharmacist, and a pair of economists — who say it’s all about the incentives. (Pandemillions, anyone?)

4/29/20
53:49
No. 415

How Rahm Emanuel Would Run the World

As a former top adviser to presidents Clinton and Obama, he believes in the power of the federal government. But as former mayor of Chicago, he says that cities are where real problems get solved — especially in the era of Covid-19.

4/26/20
48:14
No. 414

Will Covid-19 Spark a Cold War (or Worse) With China?

The U.S. spent the past few decades waiting for China to act like the global citizen it said it wanted to be. The waiting may be over.

4/22/20
57:43
No. 413

Who Gets the Ventilator?

Should a nurse or doctor who gets sick treating Covid-19 patients have priority access to a potentially life-saving healthcare device? Americans aren’t used to rationing in medicine, but it’s time to think about it. We consult a lung specialist, a bioethicist, and (of course) an economist.

4/15/20
50:10
No. 412

What Happens When Everyone Stays Home to Eat?

Covid-19 has shocked our food-supply system like nothing in modern history. We examine the winners, the losers, the unintended consequences — and just how much toilet paper one household really needs.

4/8/20
48:35
No. 411

Is $2 Trillion the Right Medicine for a Sick Economy?

Congress just passed the biggest aid package in modern history. We ask six former White House economic advisors and one U.S. Senator: Will it actually work? What are its best and worst features? Where does $2 trillion come from, and what are the long-term effects of all that government spending?

4/1/20
54:55
No. 410

What Does Covid-19 Mean for Cities (and Marriages)?

There are a lot of upsides to urban density — but viral contagion is not one of them. Also: a nationwide lockdown will show if familiarity really breeds contempt. And: how to help your neighbor.

3/25/20
42:23
No. 409

The Side Effects of Social Distancing

In just a few weeks, the novel coronavirus has undone a century’s worth of our economic and social habits. What consequences will this have on our future — and is there a silver lining in this very black pandemic cloud?

3/18/20
49:27
No. 373

Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work (Replay)

As cities become ever-more expensive, politicians and housing advocates keep calling for rent control. Economists think that’s a terrible idea. They say it helps a small (albeit noisy) group of renters, but keeps overall rents artificially high by disincentivizing new construction. So what happens next?

3/11/20
49:31
No. 408

Does Anyone Really Know What Socialism Is?

Trump says it would destroy us. Sanders says it will save us. The majority of millennials would like it to replace capitalism. But what is “it”? We bring in the economists to sort things out and tell us what the U.S. can learn from the good (and bad) experiences of other (supposedly) socialist countries.

3/4/20
44:00
No. 407

Is There Really a “Loneliness Epidemic”?

That’s what some health officials are saying, but the data aren’t so clear. We look into what’s known (and not known) about the prevalence and effects of loneliness — including the possible upsides.

2/26/20
34:06
No. 406

Can You Hear Me Now?

When he became chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai announced that he was going to take a “weed whacker” to Obama-era regulations. So far, he’s kept his promise, and earned the internet’s ire for reversing the agency’s position on net neutrality. Pai defends his actions and explains how the U.S. can “win” everything from the 5G race to the war on robocalls.

2/19/20
48:01
No. 405

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet)

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?

2/12/20
44:30
No. 404

Does the President Matter as Much as You Think?

We asked this same question nearly a decade ago. The answer then: probably not. But a lot has changed since then, and we’re three years into one of the most anomalous presidencies in American history. So once again we try to sort out presidential signal from noise. What we hear from legal and policy experts may leave you surprised, befuddled — and maybe infuriated.

2/5/20
53:12
No. 350

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

One of the most storied (and valuable) sports franchises in the world had fallen far. So they decided to do a full reboot — and it worked: this week, they are headed back to the Super Bowl. Before the 2018 season, we sat down with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and players as they were plotting their turnaround. Here’s an update of that episode.

1/29/20
64:30
No. 403

The Opioid Tragedy, Part 2: “It’s Not a Death Sentence”

One prescription drug is keeping some addicts from dying. So why isn’t it more widespread? A story of regulation, stigma, and the potentially fatal faith in abstinence.

1/22/20
49:20
No. 402

The Opioid Tragedy, Part 1: “We’ve Addicted an Entire Generation”

How pharma greed, government subsidies, and a push to make pain the “fifth vital sign” kicked off a crisis that costs $80 billion a year and has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

1/15/20
51:04
No. 334

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.

1/8/20
51:21
No. 383

The Zero-Minute Workout (Replay)

There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it?

1/1/20
38:42
No. 401

How Many Prince Charleses Can There Be in One Room?

In a special holiday episode, Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth take turns asking each other questions about charisma, wealth vs. intellect, and (of course) grit.

12/25/19
35:01
No. 362

Why Is This Man Running for President? (Update)

A year ago, nobody was taking Andrew Yang very seriously. Now he is America’s favorite entrepre-nerd, with a candidacy that keeps gaining momentum. This episode includes our Jan. 2019 conversation with the leader of the Yang Gang and a fresh interview recorded from the campaign trail in Iowa.

12/18/19
60:02
No. 400

How to Hate Taxes a Little Bit Less

Every year, Americans short the I.R.S. nearly half a trillion dollars. Most ideas to increase compliance are more stick than carrot — scary letters, audits, and penalties. But what if we gave taxpayers a chance to allocate how their money is spent, or even bribed them with a thank-you gift?

12/11/19
46:35
No. 399

Honey, I Grew the Economy

Innovation experts have long overlooked where a lot of innovation actually happens. The personal computer, the mountain bike, the artificial pancreas — none of these came from some big R&D lab, but from users tinkering in their homes. Acknowledging this reality — and encouraging it — would be good for the economy (and the soul too).

12/4/19
44:19
No. 379

How to Change Your Mind (Replay)

There are a lot of barriers to changing your mind: ego, overconfidence, inertia — and cost. Politicians who flip-flop get mocked; family and friends who cross tribal borders are shunned. But shouldn’t we be encouraging people to change their minds? And how can we get better at it ourselves?

11/27/19
47:31
No. 398

The Truth About the Vaping Crisis

A recent outbreak of illness and death has gotten everyone’s attention — including late-to-the-game regulators. But would a ban on e-cigarettes do more harm than good? We smoke out the facts.

11/20/19
44:12
No. 397

How to Save $32 Million in One Hour

For nearly a decade, governments have been using behavioral nudges to solve problems — and the strategy is catching on in healthcare, firefighting, and policing. But is that thinking too small? Could nudging be used to fight income inequality and achieve world peace? Recorded live in London, with commentary from Andy Zaltzman (The Bugle).

11/13/19
49:04
No. 396

Why Does Tipping Still Exist?

It’s an acutely haphazard way of paying workers, and yet it keeps expanding. We dig into the data to find out why.

11/6/19
50:26
No. 395

Speak Softly and Carry Big Data

Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can help answer all these questions — and make better foreign-policy decisions. Guests include former Department of Defense officials Chuck Hagel and Michèle Flournoy and Chicago Project on Security and Threats researchers Robert Pape and Paul Poast. Recorded live in Chicago; Steve Levitt is co-host.

10/30/19
63:23
No. 394

Does Hollywood Still Have a Princess Problem?

For decades, there’s been a huge gender disparity both on-screen and behind the scenes. But it seems like cold, hard data — with an assist from the actor Geena Davis — may finally be moving the needle.

10/23/19
50:03
No. 393

Can Britain Get Its “Great” Back?

It used to be a global capital of innovation, invention, and exploration. Now it’s best known for its messy European divorce. We visit London to see if the British spirit of discovery is still alive. Guests include the mayor of London, undersea explorers, a time-use researcher, and a theoretical physicist who helped Liverpool win the Champions League. Dan Schreiber from No Such Thing as a Fish rides shotgun.

10/19/19
60:06
No. 392

The Prime Minister Who Cried Brexit

In 2016, David Cameron held a referendum on whether the U.K. should stay in the European Union. A longtime Euroskeptic, he nevertheless led the Remain campaign. So what did Cameron really want? We ask him that and much more — including why he left office as soon as his side lost and what he’d do differently if given another chance. (Hint: not much.)

10/9/19
52:10
No. 391

America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up

Most high-school math classes are still preparing students for the Sputnik era. Steve Levitt wants to get rid of the “geometry sandwich” and instead have kids learn what they really need in the modern era: data fluency.

10/2/19
45:50
No. 390

Fed Up

Mary Daly rose from high-school dropout to president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She thinks the central bank needs an upgrade too. It starts with recognizing that the economy is made up of actual humans.

9/25/19
41:46
No. 389

How to Make Meetings Less Terrible

In the U.S. alone, we hold 55 million meetings a day. Most of them are woefully unproductive, and tyrannize our offices. The revolution begins now — with better agendas, smaller invite lists, and an embrace of healthy conflict.

9/18/19
41:42
No. 358

Yes, the Open Office Is Terrible — But It Doesn’t Have to Be (Replay)

It began as a post-war dream for a more collaborative and egalitarian workplace. It has evolved into a nightmare of noise and discomfort. Can the open office be saved, or should we all just be working from home?

9/11/19
41:40
No. 388

The Economics of Sports Gambling

What happens when tens of millions of fantasy-sports players are suddenly able to bet real money on real games? We’re about to find out. A recent Supreme Court decision has cleared the way to bring an estimated $300 billion in black-market sports betting into the light. We sort out the winners and losers.

9/4/19
54:53
No. 367

The Future of Meat (Replay)

Global demand for beef, chicken, and pork continues to rise. So do concerns about environmental and other costs. Will reconciling these two forces be possible — or, even better, Impossible™?

8/28/19
57:07
No. 359

Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s? (Replay)

The quirky little grocery chain with California roots and German ownership has a lot to teach all of us about choice architecture, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, and team spirit.

8/21/19
50:13
No. 387

Hello, My Name Is Marijuana Pepsi!

Research shows that having a distinctively black name doesn’t affect your economic future. But what is the day-to-day reality of living with such a name? Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, a newly-minted Ph.D., is well-qualified to answer this question. Her verdict: the data don’t tell the whole story.

8/14/19
40:48
No. 122

How Much Does Your Name Matter? (Replay)

A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?

8/7/19
55:35
No. 386

How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War

Aisle upon aisle of fresh produce, cheap meat, and sugary cereal — a delicious embodiment of free-market capitalism, right? Not quite. The supermarket was in fact the endpoint of the U.S. government’s battle for agricultural abundance against the U.S.S.R. Our farm policies were built to dominate, not necessarily to nourish — and we are still living with the consequences.

7/31/19
41:34
No. 356

America’s Hidden Duopoly (Replay)

We all know our political system is “broken” — but what if that’s not true? Some say the Republicans and Democrats constitute a wildly successful industry that has colluded to kill off competition, stifle reform, and drive the country apart. So what are you going to do about it?

7/24/19
52:55
No. 385

What Do Nancy Pelosi, Taylor Swift, and Serena Williams Have in Common?

They — along with a great many other high-achieving women — were all once Girl Scouts. So was Sylvia Acevedo. Raised in a poor, immigrant family, she was told that “girls like her” didn’t go to college. But she did, and then became a rocket scientist and tech executive. Now she’s C.E.O. of the very organization she credits with shaping her life. Acevedo tells us how the Girl Scouts are trying to stay relevant, why they’re suing the Boy Scouts, and how they sell so many cookies.

7/17/19
37:22
No. 384

Abortion and Crime, Revisited

The controversial theory linking Roe v. Wade to a massive crime drop is back in the spotlight as several states introduce abortion restrictions. Steve Levitt and John Donohue discuss their original research, the challenges to its legitimacy, and their updated analysis. Also: what this means for abortion policy, crime policy, and having intelligent conversations about contentious topics.

7/10/19
57:20
No. 173

A Better Way to Eat (Replay)

Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?

7/3/19
26:56
No. 383

The Zero-Minute Workout

There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it?

6/26/19
39:14
No. 382

How Goes the Behavior-Change Revolution?

An all-star team of behavioral scientists discovers that humans are stubborn (and lazy, and sometimes dumber than dogs). We also hear about binge drinking, humblebragging, and regrets. Recorded live in Philadelphia with guests including Richard Thaler, Angela Duckworth, Katy Milkman, and Tom Gilovich.

6/19/19
52:54
No. 381

Long-Term Thinking in a Start-Up Town

Recorded live in San Francisco. Guests include the keeper of a 10,000-year clock, the co-founder of Lyft, a pioneer in male birth control, a specialist in water security, and a psychology professor who is also a puppy. With co-host Angela Duckworth, fact-checker Mike Maughan, and the Freakonomics Radio Orchestra.

6/12/19
52:00
No. 380

Notes From an Imperfect Paradise

Recorded live in Los Angeles. Guests include Mayor Eric Garcetti, the “Earthquake Lady,” the head of the Port of L.A., and a scientist with NASA’s Planetary Protection team. With co-host Angela Duckworth, fact-checker Mike Maughan, and the worldwide debut of Luis Guerra and the Freakonomics Radio Orchestra.

6/5/19
52:15
No. 379

How to Change Your Mind

There are a lot of barriers to changing your mind: ego, overconfidence, inertia — and cost. Politicians who flip-flop get mocked; family and friends who cross tribal borders are shunned. But shouldn’t we be encouraging people to change their minds? And how can we get better at it ourselves?

5/29/19
47:42
No. 323

Here’s Why All Your Projects Are Always Late — and What to Do About It (Replay)

Whether it’s a giant infrastructure plan or a humble kitchen renovation, it’ll inevitably take way too long and cost way too much. That’s because you suffer from “the planning fallacy.” (You also have an “optimism bias” and a bad case of overconfidence.) But don’t worry: we’ve got the solution.

5/22/19
41:46
No. 378

23andMe (and You, and Everyone Else)

The revolution in home DNA testing is giving consumers important, possibly life-changing information. It’s also building a gigantic database that could lead to medical breakthroughs. But how will you deal with upsetting news? What if your privacy is compromised? And are you prepared to have your DNA monetized? We speak with Anne Wojcicki, founder and C.E.O. of 23andMe.

5/15/19
51:19
No. 377

The $1.5 Trillion Question: How to Fix Student-Loan Debt?

As the cost of college skyrocketed, it created a debt burden that’s putting a drag on the economy. One possible solution: shifting the risk of debt away from students and onto investors looking for a cut of the graduates’ earning power.

5/8/19
50:06
No. 376

The Data-Driven Guide to Sane Parenting

Humans have been having kids forever, so why are modern parents so bewildered? The economist Emily Oster marshals the evidence on the most contentious topics — breastfeeding and sleep training, vaccines and screen time — and tells her fellow parents to calm the heck down.

5/1/19
51:50
No. 329

The Invisible Paw (Replay)

Humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we’ve had it exactly backward?

4/24/19
47:00
No. 375

The Most Interesting Fruit in the World

The banana used to be a luxury good. Now it’s the most popular fruit in the U.S. and elsewhere. But the production efficiencies that made it so cheap have also made it vulnerable to a deadly fungus that may wipe out the one variety most of us eat. Scientists do have a way to save it — but will Big Banana let them?

4/17/19
38:44
No. 374

How Spotify Saved the Music Industry (But Not Necessarily Musicians)

Daniel Ek, a 23-year-old Swede who grew up on pirated music, made the record labels an offer they couldn’t refuse: a legal platform to stream all the world’s music. Spotify reversed the labels’ fortunes, made Ek rich, and thrilled millions of music fans. But what has it done for all those musicians stuck in the long tail?

4/10/19
59:36
No. 373

Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work

As cities become ever-more expensive, politicians and housing advocates keep calling for rent control. Economists think that’s a terrible idea. They say it helps a small (albeit noisy) group of renters, but keeps overall rents artificially high by disincentivizing new construction. So what happens next?

4/3/19
50:09
No. 372

Freakonomics Radio Live: “Would You Eat a Piece of Chocolate Shaped Like Dog Poop?”

What your disgust level says about your politics, how Napoleon influenced opera, why New York City’s subways may finally run on time, and more. Five compelling guests tell Stephen Dubner, co-host Angela Duckworth, and fact-checker Jody Avirgan lots of things they didn’t know.

3/27/19
57:40
No. 347

Why You Shouldn’t Open a Restaurant (Update)

Kenji López-Alt became a rock star of the food world by bringing science into the kitchen in a way that everyday cooks can appreciate. Then he dared to start his own restaurant — and discovered problems that even science can’t solve.

3/20/19
48:57
No. 371

A Free-Trade Democrat in the Trump White House

For years, Gary Cohn thought he’d be the next C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs. Instead, he became the “adult in the room” in a chaotic administration. Cohn talks about the fights he won, the fights he lost, and the fights he was no longer willing to have. Also: why he and Trump are still on speaking terms even after he reportedly called the president “a professional liar.”

3/13/19
52:22
No. 370

How to Fail Like a Pro

The road to success is paved with failure, so you might as well learn to do it right. (Ep. 5 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

3/6/19
44:35
No. 369

A Good Idea Is Not Good Enough

Whether you’re building a business or a cathedral, execution is everything. We ask artists, scientists, and inventors how they turned ideas into reality. And we find out why it’s so hard for a group to get things done — and what you can do about it. (Ep. 4 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

2/27/19
54:28
No. 368

Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

Whether you’re mapping the universe, hosting a late-night talk show, or running a meeting, there are a lot of ways to up your idea game. Plus: the truth about brainstorming. (Ep. 3 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

2/20/19
65:20
No. 367

The Future of Meat

Global demand for beef, chicken, and pork continues to rise. So do concerns about environmental and other costs. Will reconciling these two forces be possible — or, even better, Impossible™?

2/13/19
55:33
No. 366

This Economist Predicted the Last Crisis. What’s the Next One?

In 2005, Raghuram Rajan said the financial system was at risk “of a catastrophic meltdown.” After stints at the I.M.F. and India’s central bank, he sees another potential crisis — and he offers a solution. Is it stronger governments? Freer markets? Rajan’s answer: neither.

2/6/19
52:54
EXTRA

Extra: Domonique Foxworth Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the former N.F.L. player, union official, and all-around sports thinker, recorded for our “Hidden Side of Sports” series.

2/2/19
89:52
No. 365

Not Just Another Labor Force

If you think talent and hard work give top athletes all the leverage to succeed, think again. As employees in the Sports-Industrial Complex, they’ve got a tight earnings window, a high injury rate, little choice in where they work — and a very early forced retirement. (Ep. 6 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

1/30/19
63:53
EXTRA

Extra: Mark Cuban Full Interview

A conversation with the ,Shark Tank star, entrepreneur, and Dallas Mavericks owner recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

1/26/19
42:04
No. 364

Inside the Sports-Industrial Complex

For most of us, the athletes are what make sports interesting. But if you own the team or run the league, your players are essentially very expensive migrant workers who eat into your profits. We talk to N.F.L., N.B.A., and U.F.C. executives about labor costs, viewership numbers, legalized gambling, and the rise of e-sports. (Ep. 5 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

1/23/19
56:36
EXTRA

Extra: Mark Teixeira Full Interview

A conversation with former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN analyst Mark Teixeira, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

1/19/19
58:39
No. 363

Think Like a Winner

Great athletes aren’t just great at the physical stuff. They’ve also learned how to handle pressure, overcome fear, and stay focused. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be an athlete to use what they know. (Ep. 4 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

1/16/19
59:09
No. 197

Hacking the World Bank (Update)

Jim Yong Kim has an unorthodox background for a World Bank president — and his reign has been just as unorthodox. He has just announced he’s stepping down, well before his term is over; we recorded this interview with him in 2015.

1/12/19
35:40
No. 362

Why Is This Man Running for President?

In the American Dream sweepstakes, Andrew Yang was a pretty big winner. But for every winner, he came to realize, there are thousands upon thousands of losers — a “war on normal people,” he calls it. Here’s what he plans to do about it.

1/9/19
55:35
No. 345

How to Be Happy (Replay)

The U.N.’s World Happiness Report — created to curtail our unhealthy obsession with G.D.P. — is dominated every year by the Nordic countries. We head to Denmark to learn the secrets of this happiness epidemic (and to see if we should steal them).

1/2/19
37:41
No. 247

How to Win Games and Beat People (Replay)

Games are as old as civilization itself, and some people think they have huge social value regardless of whether you win or lose. Tom Whipple is not one of those people. That’s why he consulted an army of preposterously overqualified experts to find the secret to winning any game.

12/26/18
56:30
No. 340

People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard. (Replay)

You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge at a time.

12/19/18
57:57
No. 0

Freakonomics Radio Live: “The World’s a Mess. But Oysters, They Hold it Down.”

Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli joins us to co-host an evening of delicious fact-finding: where a trillion oysters went, whether a soda tax can work, and how beer helped build an empire. Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri is our real-time fact-checker.

12/15/18
56:55
No. 0

Freakonomics Radio Live: “Where Does Fear Live in the Brain?”

Our co-host is comedian Christian Finnegan, and we learn: the difference between danger and fear; the role of clouds in climate change; and why (and when) politicians are bad at math. Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri is our real-time fact-checker.

12/15/18
55:20
No. 0

Freakonomics Radio Live: “We Thought of a Way to Manipulate Your Perception of Time.”

We learn how to be less impatient, how to tell fake news from real, and the simple trick that nurses used to make better predictions than doctors. Journalist Manoush Zomorodi co-hosts; our real-time fact-checker is the author and humorist A.J. Jacobs.

12/15/18
56:39
No. 361

Freakonomics Radio Live: “Jesus Could Have Been a Pigeon.”

Our co-host is Grit author Angela Duckworth, and we learn fascinating, Freakonomical facts from a parade of guests. For instance: what we all get wrong about Darwin; what an iPod has in common with the “hell ant”; and how a “memory athlete” memorizes a deck of cards. Mike Maughan is our real-time fact-checker.

12/12/18
60:26
No. 360

Is the Protestant Work Ethic Real?

In the early 20th century, Max Weber argued that Protestantism created wealth. Finally, there are data to prove if he was right. All it took were some missionary experiments in the Philippines and a clever map-matching trick that goes back to 16th-century Germany.

12/5/18
44:10
No. 359

Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s?

The quirky little grocery chain with California roots and German ownership has a lot to teach all of us about choice architecture, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, and team spirit.

11/28/18
50:32
No. 285

There’s a War on Sugar. Is It Justified? (Replay)

Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it’s addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make? We hear from a regulatory advocate, an evidence-based skeptic, a former F.D.A. commissioner — and the organizers of Milktoberfest.

11/21/18
47:06
No. 358

Yes, the Open Office Is Terrible — But It Doesn’t Have to Be

It began as a post-war dream for a more collaborative and egalitarian workplace. It has evolved into a nightmare of noise and discomfort. Can the open office be saved, or should we all just be working from home?

11/14/18
42:33
No. 357

Can an Industrial Giant Become a Tech Darling?

The Ford Motor Company is ditching its legacy sedans, doubling down on trucks, and trying to steer its stock price out of a long skid. But C.E.O. Jim Hackett has even bigger plans: to turn a century-old automaker into the nucleus of a “transportation operating system.” Is Hackett just whistling past the graveyard, or does he see what others can’t?

11/7/18
56:41
No. 356

America’s Hidden Duopoly

We all know our political system is “broken” — but what if that’s not true? Some say the Republicans and Democrats constitute a wildly successful industry that has colluded to kill off competition, stifle reform, and drive the country apart. So what are you going to do about it?

10/31/18
54:15
EXTRA

Extra: Elvis Costello Full Interview

A conversation with the iconic singer-songwriter, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “How to Be Creative.”

10/27/18
79:31
No. 355

Where Does Creativity Come From (and Why Do Schools Kill It Off)?

Family environments and “diversifying experiences” (including the early death of a parent); intrinsic versus extrinsic motivations; schools that value assessments, but don’t assess the things we value. All these elements factor into the long, mysterious march towards a creative life. To learn more, we examine the early years of Ai Weiwei, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Maira Kalman, Wynton Marsalis, Jennifer Egan, and others.

10/24/18
73:18
EXTRA

Extra: Jeremy Lin Full Interview

A conversation with veteran N.B.A. point guard Jeremy Lin, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

10/20/18
43:17
No. 354

How to Be Creative

There are thousands of books on the subject, but what do we actually know about creativity? In this new series, we talk to the researchers who study it as well as artists, inventors, and pathbreakers who live it every day: Ai Weiwei, James Dyson, Elvis Costello, Jennifer Egan, Rosanne Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Maira Kalman, and more.

10/17/18
56:30
No. 353

How to Optimize Your Apology

You said, “I’m sorry,” but somehow you haven’t been forgiven. Why? Because you’re doing it wrong! A report from the front lines of apology science.

10/10/18
53:06
No. 352

Can This Man Stop a Trade War?

The World Trade Organization is the referee for 164 trading partners, each with their own political and economic agendas. Lately, those agendas have gotten more complicated — especially with President Trump’s tariff blitz. Roberto Azevêdo, head of the W.T.O., tells us why it’s so hard to balance protectionism and globalism; what’s really behind the loss of jobs; and what he’d say to Trump (if he ever gets the chance).

10/3/18
46:22
EXTRA

Extra: Shawn Johnson Full Interview

A conversation with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

9/30/18
67:16
No. 351

Here’s Why You’re Not an Elite Athlete

There are a lot of factors that go into greatness, many of which are not obvious. A variety of Olympic and professional athletes tell us how they made it and what they sacrificed to get there. And if you can identify the sport most likely to get a kid into a top college — well then, touché! (Ep. 3 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

9/26/18
71:25
EXTRA

Extra: Full Interviews With Jimmy Garoppolo, Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, and Kyle Juszczyk

Stephen Dubner’s conversations with members of the San Francisco 49ers offense, recorded for Freakonomics Radio episode No. 350, part of the “Hidden Side of Sports” series.

9/23/18
80:11
No. 350

How to Stop Being a Loser

The San Francisco 49ers, one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, also used to be one of the best. But they’ve been losing lately — a lot — and one of their players launched a controversy by taking a knee during the national anthem. So why is everyone there so optimistic? To find out, we speak with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and star players, including their new $137.5 million quarterback. (Ep. 2 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

9/19/18
64:53
No. 349

How Sports Became Us

Dollar-wise, the sports industry is surprisingly small, about the same size as the cardboard-box industry. So why does it make so much noise? Because it reflects — and often amplifies — just about every political, economic, and social issue of the day. Introducing a new series, “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

9/12/18
55:15
No. 348

Is the Government More Entrepreneurial Than You Think?

We all know the standard story: our economy would be more dynamic if only the government would get out of the way. The economist Mariana Mazzucato says we’ve got that story backward. She argues that the government, by funding so much early-stage research, is hugely responsible for big successes in tech, pharma, energy, and more. But the government also does a terrible job in claiming credit — and, more important, getting a return on its investment.

9/5/18
37:50
No. 347

Why You Shouldn’t Open a Restaurant

Kenji Lopez-Alt became a rock star of the food world by bringing science into the kitchen in a way that everyday cooks can appreciate. Then he dared to start his own restaurant — and discovered problems that even science can’t solve.

8/29/18
43:11
No. 346

Two (Totally Opposite) Ways to Save the Planet

The environmentalists say we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption. The technologists say that human ingenuity can solve just about any problem. A debate that’s been around for decades has become a shouting match. Is anyone right?

8/22/18
53:26
No. 345

How to Be Happy

The U.N.’s World Happiness Report — created to curtail our unhealthy obsession with G.D.P. — is dominated every year by the Nordic countries. We head to Denmark to learn the secrets of this happiness epidemic (and to see if we should steal them).

8/15/18
40:13
No. 344

Who Decides How Much a Life Is Worth?

After every mass shooting or terrorist attack, victims and survivors receive a huge outpouring of support — including a massive pool of compensation money. How should that money be allocated? We speak with the man who’s done that job after many tragedies, including 9/11. The hard part, it turns out, isn’t attaching a dollar figure to each victim; the hard part is acknowledging that dollars can’t heal the pain.

8/8/18
41:04
No. 316

A Conversation With PepsiCo C.E.O. Indra Nooyi (Update)

One of the world’s biggest and best-known companies just announced that its C.E.O. would be stepping down in the fall. We interviewed her as part of our series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.,” and we thought you might like to hear that episode again, or for the first time if you missed it back then.

8/6/18
No. 343

An Astronaut, a Catalan, and Two Linguists Walk Into a Bar…

In this live episode of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” we learn why New York has skinny skyscrapers, how to weaponize water, and what astronauts talk about in space. Joining Stephen J. Dubner as co-host is the linguist John McWhorter; Bari Weiss (The New York Times) is the real-time fact-checker.

8/1/18
55:29
No. 342

Has Lance Armstrong Finally Come Clean?

He was once the most lionized athlete on the planet, with seven straight Tour de France wins and a victory over cancer too. Then the doping charges caught up with him. When he finally confessed to Oprah, he admits, “it didn’t go well at all.” That’s because he wasn’t actually contrite yet. Now, five years later, he says he is. Do you believe him?

7/25/18
53:12
No. 341

Why We Choke Under Pressure (and How Not To)

It happens to just about everyone, whether you’re going for Olympic gold or giving a wedding toast. We hear from psychologists, economists, and the golfer who some say committed the greatest choke of all time.

7/18/18
47:19
No. 340

People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard.

You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge at a time.

7/11/18
59:52
No. 339

The Future of Freakonomics Radio

After 8 years and more than 300 episodes, it was time to either 1) quit, or 2) make the show bigger and better. We voted for number 2. Here’s a peek behind the curtain and a preview of what you’ll be hearing next.

7/3/18
35:59
No. 264

In Praise of Incrementalism (Replay)

What do Renaissance painting, civil-rights movements, and Olympic cycling have in common? In each case, huge breakthroughs came from taking tiny steps. In a world where everyone is looking for the next moonshot, we shouldn’t ignore the power of incrementalism.

6/27/18
49:16
No. 263

In Praise of Maintenance (Replay)

Has our culture’s obsession with innovation led us to neglect the fact that things also need to be taken care of?

6/20/18
42:12
No. 338

How to Catch World Cup Fever

For soccer fans, it’s easy. For the rest of us? Not so much, especially since the U.S. team didn’t qualify. So here’s what to watch for even if you have no team to root for. Because the World Cup isn’t just a gargantuan sporting event; it’s a microcosm of human foibles and (yep) economic theory brought to life.

6/13/18
58:48
No. 337

How to Build a Smart City

We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it’s hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City — and tried to bring the Olympics there — is now C.E.O. of a Google-funded startup that is building, from scratch, the city of the future.

6/6/18
40:58
No. 289

How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns? (Replay)

Nearly 2 percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?

5/30/18
28:56
No. 336

The Most Vilified Industry in America Is Also the Most Charitable

Pharmaceutical firms donate an enormous amount of their products (and some cash too). But it doesn’t seem to be helping their reputation. We ask Pfizer’s generosity chief why the company gives so much, who it really helps, and whether all this philanthropy is just corporate whitewashing.

5/23/18
36:30
No. 335

Does Doing Good Give You License to Be Bad?

Corporate Social Responsibility programs can attract better job applicants who’ll work for less money. But they also encourage employees to misbehave. Don’t laugh — you too probably engage in “moral licensing,” even if you don’t know it.

5/16/18
39:52
No. 334

5 Psychology Terms You’re Probably Misusing

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.

5/9/18
52:11
No. 291

Evolution, Accelerated (Replay)

A breakthrough in genetic technology has given humans more power than ever to change nature. It could help eliminate hunger and disease; it could also lead to the sort of dystopia we used to only read about in sci-fi novels. So what happens next?

5/2/18
36:32
No. 333

The Most Ambitious Thing Humans Have Ever Attempted

Sure, medical progress has been astounding. But today the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country, with so-so outcomes. Atul Gawande — cancer surgeon, public-health researcher, and best-selling author — has some simple ideas for treating a painfully complex system.

4/25/18
51:53
No. 332

Why the Trump Tax Cuts Are Terrible/Awesome (Part 2)

Three former White House economists weigh in on the new tax bill. A sample: “The overwhelming evidence is that the trickle-down, magic-beanstalk beans argument — that’s just nonsense.”

4/18/18
47:46
No. 331

Why the Trump Tax Cuts Are Awesome/Terrible (Part 1)

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explains the thinking behind the controversial new Republican tax package — and why its critics are wrong. (Next week, we’ll hear from the critics.)

4/11/18
45:21
No. 330

Extra: Ray Dalio Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the founder and longtime C.E.O. of Bridgewater Associates, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

4/8/18
78:02
No. 329

The Invisible Paw

Humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we’ve had it exactly backward?

4/4/18
48:14
No. 328

Extra: Mark Zuckerberg Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the Facebook founder and C.E.O., recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

4/1/18
46:22
No. 298

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask) (Replay)

The bad news: roughly 70 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. The good news: all the important stuff can fit on one index card. Here’s how to become your own financial superhero.

3/28/18
44:43
No. 327

Extra: Carol Bartz Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the former C.E.O. of Yahoo, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

3/25/18
51:19
No. 297

The Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money (Replay)

It’s hard enough to save for a house, tuition, or retirement. So why are we willing to pay big fees for subpar investment returns? Enter the low-cost index fund. The revolution will not be monetized.

3/21/18
46:33
No. 326

Extra: Jack Welch Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the former longtime C.E.O. of General Electric, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

3/18/18
56:41
No. 325

How to Train Your Dragon Child

Every 12 years, there’s a spike in births among certain communities across the globe, including the U.S. Why? Because the Year of the Dragon, according to Chinese folk belief, confers power, fortune, and more. We look at what happens to Dragon babies when they grow up, and why timing your kid’s birth based on the zodiac isn’t as ridiculous it sounds.

3/14/18
35:28
No. 324

Extra: Satya Nadella Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the C.E.O. of Microsoft, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

3/11/18
40:27
No. 323

Here’s Why All Your Projects Are Always Late — and What to Do About It

Whether it’s a giant infrastructure plan or a humble kitchen renovation, it’ll inevitably take way too long and cost way too much. That’s because you suffer from “the planning fallacy.” (You also have an “optimism bias” and a bad case of overconfidence.) But don’t worry: we’ve got the solution.

3/7/18
41:09
No. 322

Extra: David Rubenstein Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, one of the most storied private-equity firms in history. We spoke with Rubenstein for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

3/4/18
91:42
No. 228

Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late? (Replay)

The gist: in our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.

2/28/18
46:29
No. 321

Extra: Richard Branson Full Interview

Stephen Dubner’s conversation with the Virgin Group founder, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

2/25/18
55:13
No. 320

Letting Go

​If you’re a C.E.O., there are a lot of ways to leave your job, from abrupt firing to carefully planned succession (which may still go spectacularly wrong). In this final episode of our “Secret Life of a C.E.O.” series, we hear those stories and many more. Also: what happens when you no longer have a corner office to go to — and how will you spend all that money?

2/21/18
45:00
No. 319

After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff

Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. Why? Research shows that female executives are more likely to be put in charge of firms that are already in crisis. Are they being set up to fail? (Part 5 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

2/14/18
52:18
No. 318

It’s Your Problem Now

No, it’s not your fault the economy crashed. Or that consumer preferences changed. Or that new technologies have blown apart your business model. But if you’re the C.E.O., it is your problem. So what are you going to do about it? First-hand stories of disaster (and triumph) from Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ellen Pao, Richard Branson, and more. (Part 4 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

2/7/18
44:00
No. 317

What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap?

The gig economy offers the ultimate flexibility to set your own hours. That’s why economists thought it would help eliminate the gender pay gap. A new study, using data from over a million Uber drivers, finds the story isn’t so simple.

2/6/18
42:27
No. 316

“I Wasn’t Stupid Enough to Say This Could Be Done Overnight”

Indra Nooyi became C.E.O. of PepsiCo just in time for a global financial meltdown. She also had a portfolio full of junk food just as the world decided that junk food is borderline toxic. Here’s the story of how she overhauled that portfolio, stared down activist investors, and learned to “leave the crown in the garage.” (Part 3 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

1/31/18
47:57
No. 315

How to Become a C.E.O.

Mark Zuckerberg’s dentist dad was an early adopter of digital x-rays. Jack Welch blew the roof off a factory. Carol Bartz was a Wisconsin farm girl who got into computers. No two C.E.O.’s have the same origin story — so we tell them all! How the leaders of Facebook, G.E., Yahoo!, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Virgin, the Carlyle Group, Reddit, and Bridgewater Associates made it to the top. (Part 2 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

1/24/18
44:16
No. 314

What Does a C.E.O. Actually Do?

They’re paid a fortune — but for what, exactly? What makes a good C.E.O. — and how can you even tell? Is “leadership science” a real thing — or just airport-bookstore mumbo jumbo? We put these questions to Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ray Dalio, Carol Bartz, David Rubenstein, and Ellen Pao. (Part 1 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

1/17/18
38:31
No. 313

How to Be a Modern Democrat — and Win

Gina Raimondo, the governor of tiny Rhode Island, has taken on unions, boosted big business, and made friends with Republicans. She is also one of just 15 Democratic governors in the country. Would there be more of them if there were more like her?

1/10/18
38:09
No. 280

Why Is My Life So Hard? (Replay)

Most of us feel we face more headwinds and obstacles than everyone else — which breeds resentment. We also undervalue the tailwinds that help us — which leaves us ungrateful and unhappy. How can we avoid this trap?

1/3/18
30:08
No. 266

Trust Me (Replay)

Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?

12/27/17
29:57
No. 209

Make Me a Match (Replay)

Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Al Roth.

12/20/17
52:49
No. 312

Not Your Grandmother’s I.M.F.

The International Monetary Fund has long been the “lender of last resort” for economies in crisis. Christine Lagarde, who runs the institution, would like to prevent those crises from ever happening. She tells us her plans.

12/13/17
38:18
No. 311

Why Is the Live-Event Ticket Market So Screwed Up?

The public has almost no chance to buy good tickets to the best events. Ticket brokers, meanwhile, make huge profits on the secondary markets. Here’s the story of how this market got so dysfunctional, how it can be fixed – and why it probably won’t be.

12/6/17
48:22
No. 310

Are We Running Out of Ideas?

Economists have a hard time explaining why productivity growth has been shrinking. One theory: true innovation has gotten much harder – and much more expensive. So what should we do next?

11/29/17
40:00
No. 12

Is America Ready for a “No-Lose Lottery”? (Update)

Most people don’t enjoy the simple, boring act of putting money in a savings account. But we do love to play the lottery. So what if you combine the two, creating a new kind of savings account with a lottery payout?

11/22/17
45:13
No. 309

Nurses to the Rescue!

They are the most-trusted profession in America (and with good reason). They are critical to patient outcomes (especially in primary care). Could the growing army of nurse practitioners be an answer to the doctor shortage? The data say yes but — big surprise — doctors’ associations say no.

11/15/17
62:04
No. 308

How Can I Do the Most Social Good With $100? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions

Dubner and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt answer your questions about crime, traffic, real-estate agents, the Ph.D. glut, and how to not get eaten by a bear.

11/8/17
43:24
No. 307

Thinking Is Expensive. Who’s Supposed to Pay for It?

Corporations and rich people donate billions to their favorite think tanks and foundations. Should we be grateful for their generosity — or suspicious of their motives?

11/1/17
38:49
No. 306

How to Launch a Behavior-Change Revolution

Academic studies are nice, and so are Nobel Prizes. But to truly prove the value of a new idea, you have to unleash it to the masses. That’s what a dream team of social scientists is doing — and we sat in as they drew up their game plan.

10/25/17
44:40
No. 305

The Demonization of Gluten

Celiac disease is thought to affect roughly one percent of the population. The good news: it can be treated by quitting gluten. The bad news: many celiac patients haven’t been diagnosed. The weird news: millions of people without celiac disease have quit gluten – which may be a big mistake.

10/18/17
43:55
No. 304

What Are the Secrets of the German Economy — and Should We Steal Them?

Smart government policies, good industrial relations, and high-end products have helped German manufacturing beat back the threats of globalization.

10/11/17
60:52
No. 190

Time to Take Back the Toilet (Replay)

Public bathrooms are noisy, poorly designed, and often nonexistent. What to do?

10/4/17
31:45
No. 303

Why Larry Summers Is the Economist Everyone Hates to Love

He’s been U.S. Treasury Secretary, a chief economist for the Obama White House and the World Bank, and president of Harvard. He’s one of the most brilliant economists of his generation (and perhaps the most irascible). And he thinks the Trump Administration is wrong on just about everything.

9/27/17
50:29
No. 302

Why Learn Esperanto? (Earth 2.0 Series) (Special Feature)

A language invented in the 19th century, and meant to be universal, it never really caught on. So why does a group of Esperantists from around the world gather once a year to celebrate their bond?

9/25/17
31:49
No. 301

What Would Be the Best Universal Language? (Earth 2.0 Series)

We explore votes for English, Indonesian, and … Esperanto! The search for a common language goes back millennia, but so much still gets lost in translation. Will technology finally solve that?

9/20/17
41:04
No. 300

Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language? (Earth 2.0 Series)

There are 7,000 languages spoken on Earth. What are the costs — and benefits — of our modern-day Tower of Babel?

9/13/17
43:04
No. 299

“How Much Brain Damage Do I Have?”

John Urschel was the only player in the N.F.L. simultaneously getting a math Ph.D. at M.I.T. But after a new study came out linking football to brain damage, he abruptly retired. Here’s the inside story — and a look at how we make decisions in the face of risk versus uncertainty.

9/6/17
47:04
No. 270

Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis (Replay)

By some estimates, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. How can that be? And what’s to be done? Our third and final episode in this series offers some encouraging answers.

8/30/17
47:20
No. 269

Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations (Replay)

How do so many ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market? One reason is that clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who aren’t representative of a larger population. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing worse than being excluded from a drug trial is being included.

8/23/17
45:35
No. 268

Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6 (Replay)

We tend to think of medicine as a science, but for most of human history it has been scientific-ish at best. In the first episode of a three-part series, we look at the grotesque mistakes produced by centuries of trial-and-error, and ask whether the new era of evidence-based medicine is the solution.

8/16/17
44:02
No. 256

What Are You Waiting For? (Replay)

Standing in line represents a particularly sloppy — and frustrating — way for supply and demand to meet. Why haven’t we found a better way to get what we want? Is it possible that we secretly enjoy waiting in line? And might it even be (gulp) good for us?

8/9/17
36:19
No. 298

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask)

The bad news: roughly 70 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. The good news: all the important stuff can fit on one index card. Here’s how to become your own financial superhero.

8/2/17
43:59
No. 297

The Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money

It’s hard enough to save for a house, tuition, or retirement. So why are we willing to pay big fees for subpar investment returns? Enter the low-cost index fund. The revolution will not be monetized.

7/26/17
48:00
No. 296

These Shoes Are Killing Me!

The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece, far more functional than we give it credit for. So why do we encase it in “a coffin” (as one foot scholar calls it) that stymies so much of its ability — and may create more problems than it solves?

7/19/17
39:14
No. 295

When Helping Hurts

Good intentions are nice, but with so many resources poured into social programs, wouldn’t it be even nicer to know what actually works?

7/12/17
51:25
No. 294

The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From Marriage

Over 40 percent of U.S. births are to unmarried mothers, and the numbers are especially high among the less-educated. Why? One argument is that the decline in good manufacturing jobs led to a decline in “marriageable” men. Surely the fracking boom reversed that trend, right?

7/5/17
43:54
No. 218

The Harvard President Will See You Now (Replay)

How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world.

6/28/17
39:18
No. 293

Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2)

Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire C.E.O. of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his management philosophy and why he supports legislation that goes against his self-interest.

6/22/17
38:58
No. 292

Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 1)

Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire C.E.O. of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his management philosophy and why he supports legislation that goes against his self-interest.

6/21/17
43:18
No. 291

Evolution, Accelerated

A breakthrough in genetic technology has given humans more power than ever to change nature. It could help eliminate hunger and disease; it could also lead to the sort of dystopia we used to only read about in sci-fi novels. So what happens next?

6/14/17
35:40
No. 290

He’s One of the Most Famous Political Operatives in America. America Just Doesn’t Know It Yet.

Steve Hilton was the man behind David Cameron’s push to remake British politics. Things didn’t work out so well there. Now he’s trying to launch a new political revolution — from sunny California.

6/7/17
42:16
No. 289

How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns?

Nearly 2 percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?

5/31/17
27:59
No. 288

Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor?

A series of academic studies suggest that the wealthy are, to put it bluntly, selfish jerks. It’s an easy narrative to swallow — but is it true? A trio of economists set out to test the theory. All it took was a Dutch postal worker’s uniform, some envelopes stuffed with cash, and a slight sense of the absurd.

5/24/17
43:55
No. 287

Hoopers! Hoopers! Hoopers!

As C.E.O. of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer was famous for over-the-top enthusiasm. Now he’s brought that same passion to the N.B.A. — and to a pet project called USAFacts, which performs a sort of fiscal colonoscopy on the American government.

5/17/17
39:21
No. 286

How Big is My Penis? (And Other Things We Ask Google)

On the Internet, people say all kinds of things they’d never say aloud — about sex and race, about their true wants and fears. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has spent years parsing the data. His conclusion: our online searches are the reflection of our true selves. In the real world, everybody lies.

5/10/17
34:01
No. 226

Food + Science = Victory! (Replay)

A kitchen wizard and a nutrition detective talk about the perfect hamburger, getting the most out of garlic, and why you should use vodka in just about everything.

5/3/17
36:43
No. 285

There’s A War On Sugar. Is It Justified?

Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it’s addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make? We hear from a regulatory advocate, an evidence-based skeptic, a former F.D.A. commissioner — and the organizers of Milktoberfest.

4/26/17
45:36
No. 284

Is Income Inequality Inevitable? (Earth 2.0 Series)

In pursuit of a more perfect economy, we discuss the future of work; the toxic remnants of colonization; and whether giving everyone a basic income would be genius — or maybe the worst idea ever.

4/19/17
44:15
No. 283

Earth 2.0: What Would Our Economy Look Like?

If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we’ve blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we’ll release over several months. Today we start with — what else? — economics. You’ll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others.

4/12/17
45:52
No. 282

Could Solving This One Problem Solve All the Others?

The biggest problem with humanity is humans themselves. Too often, we make choices — what we eat, how we spend our money and time — that undermine our well-being. An all-star team of academic researchers thinks it has the solution: perfecting the science of behavior change. Will it work?

4/5/17
38:37
No. 281

Big Returns from Thinking Small

By day, two leaders of Britain’s famous Nudge Unit use behavioral tricks to make better government policy. By night, they repurpose those tricks to improve their personal lives. They want to help you do the same.

3/29/17
33:39
No. 194

How Safe is Your Job? (Replay)

Economists preach the gospel of “creative destruction,” whereby new industries — and jobs — replace the old ones. But has creative destruction become too destructive?

3/22/17
36:52
No. 280

Why Is My Life So Hard?

Most of us feel we face more headwinds and obstacles than everyone else — which breeds resentment. We also undervalue the tailwinds that help us — which leaves us ungrateful and unhappy. How can we avoid this trap?

3/15/17
33:26
No. 279

Chuck E. Cheese’s: Where a Kid Can Learn Price Theory

The pizza-and-gaming emporium prides itself on affordability, which means its arcade games are really cheap to play. Does that lead to kids hogging the best games — and parents starting those infamous YouTube brawls?

3/8/17
34:41
No. 278

The Taboo Trifecta

Serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal loves to talk about the bodily functions that make most people flinch. That’s why she’s building a business around the three P’s: periods, pee, and poop.

3/1/17
35:34
No. 277

No Hollywood Ending for the Visual Effects Industry

In their chase for a global audience, American movie studios spend billions to make their films look amazing. But almost none of those dollars stay in America. What would it take to bring those jobs back — and would it be worth it?

2/22/17
59:11
No. 276

Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal

What happens when a public-health researcher deep in coal country argues that mountaintop mining endangers the entire community? Hint: it doesn’t go very well.

2/15/17
40:01
No. 246

How to Get More Grit in Your Life (Replay)

The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned. Here’s how.

2/8/17
42:11
No. 275

An Egghead’s Guide to the Super Bowl

We assembled a panel of smart dudes—a two-time Super Bowl champ; a couple of N.F.L. linemen, including one who’s getting a math Ph.D at M.I.T., and our resident economist–to tell you what to watch for, whether you’re a football fanatic or a total newbie.

2/1/17
28:25
No. 274

Did China Eat America’s Jobs?

For years, economists promised that global free trade would be mostly win-win. Now they admit the pace of change has been “traumatic.” This has already led to a political insurrection — so what’s next?

1/25/17
41:44
No. 273

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

Just a few decades ago, more than 90 percent of 30-year-olds earned more than their parents had earned at the same age. Now it’s only about 50 percent. What happened — and what can be done about it?

1/18/17
39:26
No. 272

Trevor Noah Has a Lot to Say

The Daily Show host grew up as a poor, mixed-race South African kid going to three churches every Sunday. So he has a sui generis view of America — especially on race, politics, and religion — and he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

1/11/17
38:18
No. 271

The Men Who Started a Thinking Revolution

Starting in the late 1960s, the Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky and Danny Kahneman began to redefine how the human mind actually works. Michael Lewis’s new book The Undoing Project explains how the movement they started — now known as behavioral economics — has had such a profound effect on academia, governments, and society at large.

1/4/17
38:38
No. 244

How to Become Great at Just About Anything (Replay)

What if the thing we call “talent” is grotesquely overrated? And what if deliberate practice is the secret to excellence? Those are the claims of the research psychologist Anders Ericsson, who has been studying the science of expertise for decades. He tells us everything he’s learned.

12/28/16
50:07
No. 243

How to Be More Productive (Replay)

In this busy time of year, we could all use some tips on how to get more done in less time. First, however, a warning: there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.

12/21/16
42:44
No. 270

Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis

By some estimates, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. How can that be? And what’s to be done? Our third and final episode in this series offers some encouraging answers.

12/14/16
51:25
No. 269

Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations

How do so many ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market? One reason is that clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who aren’t representative of a larger population. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing worse than being excluded from a drug trial is being included.

12/7/16
48:57
No. 268

Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6

We tend to think of medicine as a science, but for most of human history it has been scientific-ish at best. In the first episode of a three-part series, we look at the grotesque mistakes produced by centuries of trial-and-error, and ask whether the new era of evidence-based medicine is the solution.

11/30/16
48:58
No. 239

The No-Tipping Point (Replay)

The restaurant business model is warped: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.

11/23/16
49:45
No. 267

How to Make a Bad Decision

Some of our most important decisions are shaped by something as random as the order in which we make them. The gambler’s fallacy, as it’s known, affects loan officers, federal judges — and probably you too. How to avoid it? The first step is to admit just how fallible we all are.

11/16/16
39:16
No. 266

Trust Me

Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?

11/10/16
30:54
No. 265

The White House Gets Into the Nudge Business

A tiny behavioral-sciences startup is trying to improve the way federal agencies do their work. Considering the size (and habits) of most federal agencies, this isn’t so simple. But after a series of early victories — and a helpful executive order from President Obama — they are well on their way.

11/2/16
45:19
No. 264

In Praise of Incrementalism

What do Renaissance painting, civil-rights movements, and Olympic cycling have in common? In each case, huge breakthroughs came from taking tiny steps. In a world where everyone is looking for the next moonshot, we shouldn’t ignore the power of incrementalism.

10/26/16
48:29
No. 263

In Praise of Maintenance

Has our culture’s obsession with innovation led us to neglect the fact that things also need to be taken care of?

10/19/16
41:41
No. 262

This Is Your Brain on Podcasts

Neuroscientists still have a great deal to learn about the human brain. One recent MRI study sheds some light, finding that that a certain kind of storytelling stimulates enormous activity across broad swaths of the brain. The takeaway is obvious: you should be listening to even more podcasts.

10/12/16
45:19
No. 224

How To Win A Nobel Prize (Replay)

The gist: the Nobel selection process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off, at least a little bit.

10/5/16
44:32
No. 261

Why Are We Still Using Cash?

It facilitates crime, bribery, and tax evasion – and yet some governments (including ours) are printing more cash than ever. Other countries, meanwhile, are ditching cash entirely. And if Star Trek is right, we won’t have money of any sort in the 24th century.

9/28/16
42:59
No. 260

Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?

Sure, we all pay lip service to the Madisonian system of checks and balances. But as one legal scholar argues, presidents have been running roughshod over the system for decades. The result? An accumulation of power that’s turned the presidency into a position the founders wouldn’t have recognized.

9/21/16
47:43
No. 259

Ten Signs You Might Be a Libertarian

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, likes to say that most Americans are libertarians but don’t know it yet. So why can’t Libertarians (and other third parties) gain more political traction?

9/14/16
50:38
No. 258

Why Uber Is an Economist’s Dream

To you, it’s just a ride-sharing app that gets you where you’re going. But to an economist, Uber is a massive repository of moment-by-moment data that is helping answer some of the field’s most elusive questions.

9/7/16
39:47
No. 257

The Future (Probably) Isn’t as Scary as You Think

Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly tries to predict the future by identifying what’s truly inevitable. How worried should we be? Yes, robots will probably take your job — but the future will still be pretty great.

8/31/16
34:58
No. 217

Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset? (Replay)

The gist: we spend billions on end-of-life healthcare that doesn’t do much good. So what if a patient could forego the standard treatment and get a cash rebate instead?

8/24/16
40:55
No. 213

Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush (Replay)

The comedian, actor — and now, author — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.

8/17/16
31:25
No. 256

What Are You Waiting For?

Standing in line represents a particularly sloppy — and frustrating — way for supply and demand to meet. Why haven’t we found a better way to get what we want? Is it possible that we secretly enjoy waiting in line? And might it even be (gulp) good for us?

8/10/16
35:53
No. 210

Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees? (Replay)

We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?

8/3/16
57:20
No. 255

Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten

We Americans may love our democracy — at least in theory — but at the moment our feelings toward the Federal government lie somewhere between disdain and hatred. Which electoral and political ideas should be killed off to make way for a saner system?

7/27/16
44:48
No. 254

What Are Gender Barriers Made Of?

Overt discrimination in the labor markets may be on the wane, but women are still subtly penalized by all sorts of societal conventions. How can those penalties be removed without burning down the house?

7/20/16
36:29
No. 253

Is the Internet Being Ruined?

It’s a remarkable ecosystem that allows each of us to exercise control over our lives. But how much control do we truly have? How many of our decisions are really being made by Google and Facebook and Apple? And, perhaps most importantly: is the Internet’s true potential being squandered?

7/13/16
47:54
No. 252

Confessions of a Pothole Politician

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has big ambitions but knows he must first master the small stuff. He’s also a polymath who relies heavily on data and new technologies. Could this be what modern politics is supposed to look like?

7/6/16
43:44
No. 40

The Suicide Paradox (Replay)

There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises.

6/30/16
57:22
No. 11

How Much Does the President Really Matter? (Replay)

The U.S. president is often called the “leader of the free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership, and its impact on the economy and the country.

6/22/16
35:10
No. 215

Why Do We Really Follow the News? (Replay)

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?

6/15/16
39:58
No. 251

Are We in a Mattress-Store Bubble?

You’ve seen them — everywhere! — and often clustered together, as if central planners across America decided that what every city really needs is a Mattress District. There are now dozens of online rivals too. Why are there so many stores selling something we buy so rarely?

6/8/16
34:37
No. 250

Why Does Everyone Hate Flying? And Other Questions Only a Pilot Can Answer

Patrick Smith, the author of Cockpit Confidential, answers every question we can throw at him about what really happens up in the air. Just don’t get him started on pilotless planes — or whether the autopilot is actually doing the flying.

6/1/16
43:42
No. 249

The Longest Long Shot

When the uncelebrated Leicester City Football Club won the English Premier League, it wasn’t just the biggest underdog story in recent history. It was a sign of changing economics — and that other impossible, wonderful events might be lurking just around the corner.

5/25/16
42:59
No. 248

How to Be Tim Ferriss

Our Self-Improvement Month concludes with a man whose entire life and career are one big pile of self-improvement. Nutrition? Check. Bizarre physical activities? Check. Working less and earning more? Check. Tim Ferriss, creator of the Four-Hour universe, may at first glance look like a charlatan, but it seems more likely that he’s a wizard — and the kind of self-improvement ally we all want on our side.

5/18/16
41:28
No. 247

How to Win Games and Beat People

Games are as old as civilization itself, and some people think they have huge social value regardless of whether you win or lose. Tom Whipple is not one of those people. That’s why he consulted an army of preposterously overqualified experts to find the secret to winning any game.

5/11/16
52:26
No. 246

How to Get More Grit in Your Life

The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned. Here’s how.

5/4/16
44:25
No. 245

Being Malcolm Gladwell

“Books are a pain in the ass,” says Gladwell, who has written some of the most popular, influential, and beloved non-fiction books in recent history. In this wide-ranging and candid conversation, he describes other pains in the ass — as well as his passions, his limits, and why he’ll never take up golf.

5/1/16
28:18
No. 244

How to Become Great at Just About Anything

What if the thing we call “talent” is grotesquely overrated? And what if deliberate practice is the secret to excellence? Those are the claims of the research psychologist Anders Ericsson, who has been studying the science of expertise for decades. He tells us everything he’s learned.

4/27/16
51:51
No. 243

How to Be More Productive

It’s Self-Improvement Month at Freakonomics Radio. We begin with a topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind: how to get more done in less time. First, however, a warning: there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.

4/20/16
38:34
No. 242

Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?

A lot of full-time jobs in the modern economy simply don’t pay a living wage. And even those jobs may be obliterated by new technologies. What’s to be done so that financially vulnerable people aren’t just crushed? It may finally be time for an idea that economists have promoted for decades: a guaranteed basic income.

4/13/16
37:53
No. 241

Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say?

Critics — including President Obama — say short-term, high-interest loans are predatory, trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt. But some economists see them as a useful financial instrument for people who need them. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau promotes new regulation, we ask: who’s right?

4/6/16
49:36
No. 212

The Economics of Sleep, Part 2 (Replay)

People who sleep better earn more money. Now all we have to do is teach everyone to sleep better.

3/30/16
42:47
No. 211

The Economics of Sleep, Part 1 (Replay)

Could a lack of sleep help explain why some people get much sicker than others?

3/23/16
45:37
No. 240

Yes, the American Economy Is in a Funk — But Not for the Reasons You Think

As sexy as the digital revolution may be, it can’t compare to the Second Industrial Revolution (electricity! the gas engine! antibiotics!), which created the biggest standard-of-living boost in U.S. history. The only problem, argues the economist Robert Gordon, is that the Second Industrial Revolution was a one-time event. So what happens next?

3/16/16
34:32
No. 239

The No-Tipping Point

The restaurant business model is warped: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.

3/9/16
43:14
No. 238

The United States of Cory Booker

The junior U.S. Senator from New Jersey thinks bipartisanship is right around the corner. Is he just an idealistic newbie or does he see a way forward that everyone else has missed?

3/3/16
39:18
No. 237

Ask Not What Your Podcast Can Do for You

Now and again, Freakonomics Radio puts hat in hand and asks listeners to donate to the  public-radio station that produces the show. Why on earth should anyone pay good money for something that can be had for free?

2/25/16
41:39
No. 236

How Can This Possibly Be True?

A famous economics essay features a pencil (yes, a pencil) arguing that “not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.” Is the pencil just bragging? In any case, what can the pencil teach us about our global interdependence — and the proper role of government in the economy?

2/18/16
40:48
No. 235

Who Needs Handwriting?

Remember the torture of penmanship class when you were a kid? Now, how often do you take a pen to paper these days? If you’re like the average American, it’s been more than a month since you did. So why do we still bother teaching handwriting in school?

2/10/16
39:33
No. 189

How to Fix a Broken High-Schooler, in Four Easy Steps (Replay)

Our take: maybe the steps aren’t so easy, but a program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble.

2/4/16
29:58
No. 188

Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem? (Replay)

If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it?

1/28/16
40:41
No. 234

Do Boycotts Work?

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the South African divestment campaign, Chick-fil-A! Almost anyone can launch a boycott, and the media loves to cover them. But do boycotts actually produce the change they’re fighting for?

1/21/16
37:23
No. 233

How to Be Less Terrible at Predicting the Future

Experts and pundits are notoriously bad at forecasting, in part because they aren’t punished for bad predictions. Also, they tend to be deeply unscientific. The psychologist Philip Tetlock is finally turning prediction into a science — and now even you could become a superforecaster.

1/14/16
46:52
No. 232

The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap

Discrimination can’t explain why women earn so much less than men. If only it were that easy.

1/7/16
43:23
No. 200

When Willpower Isn’t Enough (Replay)

Sure, we all want to make good personal decisions, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s where “temptation bundling” comes in.

12/31/15
41:56
No. 181

Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition (Replay)

A team of economists has been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.

12/24/15
45:58
No. 231

Is Migration a Basic Human Right?

The argument for open borders is compelling — and deeply problematic.

12/17/15
60:53
No. 230

The Cheeseburger Diet

One woman’s quest to find the best burger in town can teach all of us to eat smarter.

12/10/15
32:04
No. 229

Ben Bernanke Gives Himself a Grade

He was handed the keys to the global economy just as it started heading off a cliff. Fortunately, he’d seen this movie before.

12/3/15
49:58
No. 186

Why Do People Keep Having Children? (Replay)

Even a brutal natural disaster doesn’t diminish our appetite for procreating. This surely means we’re heading toward massive overpopulation, right? Probably not.

11/26/15
40:00
No. 228

Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late?

In our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.

11/19/15
45:33
No. 227

Should Everyone Be in a Rock Band?

Lessons from Tom Petty’s rise and another rocker’s fall: A conversation with Warren Zanes, former member of the Del Fuegos and the author of Petty: The Biography.

11/12/15
45:28
No. 226

Food + Science = Victory!

On the menu: A kitchen wizard and a nutrition detective talk about the perfect hamburger, getting the most out of garlic, and why you should use vodka in just about everything.

11/5/15
38:20
No. 225

Am I Boring You?

Researchers are trying to figure out who gets bored — and why — and what it means for ourselves and the economy. But maybe there’s an upside to boredom?

10/29/15
39:29
No. 178

How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying (Replay)

Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t?

10/22/15
40:17
No. 224

How To Win A Nobel Prize

The process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off at least a little bit.

10/15/15
45:27
No. 223

Should Kids Pay Back Their Parents for Raising Them?

When one athlete turned pro, his mom asked him for $1 million. Our modern sensibilities tell us she doesn’t have a case. But should she?

10/8/15
47:22
No. 222

Meet the Woman Who Said Women Can’t Have It All

Anne-Marie Slaughter was best known for her adamant views on Syria when she accidentally became a poster girl for modern feminism. As it turns out, she can be pretty adamant in that realm as well.

10/1/15
42:11
No. 221

How Did the Belt Win?

Suspenders may work better, but the dork factor is too high. How did an organ-squeezing belly tourniquet become part of our everyday wardrobe — and what other suboptimal solutions do we routinely put up with?

9/24/15
30:56
No. 220

“I Don’t Know What You’ve Done With My Husband But He’s a Changed Man”

From domestic abusers to former child soldiers, there is increasing evidence that behavioral therapy can turn them around.

9/17/15
45:53
No. 219

Preventing Crime for Pennies on the Dollar

Conventional programs tend to be expensive, onerous, and ineffective. Could something as simple (and cheap) as cognitive behavioral therapy do the trick?

9/10/15
41:33
No. 218

The Harvard President Will See You Now

How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world.

9/3/15
39:18
No. 217

Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset?

We spend billions on end-of-life healthcare that doesn’t do much good. So what if a patient could forego the standard treatment and get a cash rebate instead?

8/27/15
36:55
No. 216

How to Make a Smart TV Ad

Step 1: Hire a Harvard psych professor as the pitchman. Step 2: Have him help write the script …

8/20/15
30:35
No. 1

The Dangers of Safety (Replay)

What do NASCAR drivers, Glenn Beck and the hit men of the NFL have in common?

8/13/15
30:57
No. 215

Why Do We Really Follow the News?

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?

8/5/15
35:51
No. 214

How to Create Suspense

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?

7/29/15
39:20
No. 213

Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush

The comedian, actor — and now, author — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.

7/22/15
32:00
No. 212

The Economics of Sleep, Part 2

People who sleep better earn more money. Now all we have to do is teach everyone to sleep better.

7/16/15
43:25
No. 211

The Economics of Sleep, Part 1

Could a lack of sleep help explain why some people get much sicker than others?

7/6/15
44:56
No. 173

A Better Way to Eat (Replay)

Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?

7/1/15
26:56
No. 210

Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees?

We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?

6/24/15
52:39
No. 209

Make Me a Match

Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Al Roth.

6/17/15
50:23
No. 208

Making Sex Offenders Pay — and Pay and Pay and Pay

Sure, sex crimes are horrific, and the perpetrators deserve to be punished harshly. But society keeps exacting costs — out-of-pocket and otherwise — long after the prison sentence has been served.

6/10/15
35:29
No. 207

Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?

One man’s attempt to remake his life in the mold of homo economicus.

6/4/15
54:48
No. 183

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know (Replay)

The debut of a live game show from Freakonomics Radio, with judges Malcolm Gladwell, Ana Gasteyer, and David Paterson.

5/28/15
66:52
No. 169

Failure Is Your Friend (Replay)

In which we argue that failure should not only be tolerated but celebrated.

5/20/15
31:48
No. 206

Ten Years of Freakonomics

Dubner and Levitt are live onstage at the 92nd Street Y in New York to celebrate their new book “When to Rob a Bank” — and a decade of working together.

5/14/15
46:02
No. 205

Could the Next Brooklyn Be … Las Vegas?!

Zappos C.E.O. Tony Hsieh has a wild vision and the dollars to try to make it real. But it still might be the biggest gamble in town.

5/11/15
59:07
No. 168

Think Like a Child (Replay)

When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an 8 year old.

4/29/15
29:44
No. 204

Nate Silver Says: “Everyone Is Kind of Weird”

America’s favorite statistical guru answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions, and more.

4/23/15
39:38
No. 203

Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend

It may seem like winning a valuable diamond is an unalloyed victory. It’s not. It’s not even clear that a diamond is so valuable.

4/16/15
40:29
No. 202

How Many Doctors Does It Take to Start a Healthcare Revolution?

The practice of medicine has been subsumed by the business of medicine. This is great news for healthcare shareholders — and bad news for pretty much everyone else.

4/9/15
58:53
No. 201

How Do We Know What Really Works in Healthcare?

A lot of the conventional wisdom in medicine is nothing more than hunch or wishful thinking. A new breed of data detectives is hoping to change that.

4/2/15
45:53
No. 165

The Perfect Crime (Replay)

If you are driving and kill a pedestrian, there’s a good chance you’ll barely be punished. Why?

3/26/15
32:39
No. 154

What You Don’t Know About Online Dating (Replay)

Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility.

3/19/15
40:11
No. 200

When Willpower Isn’t Enough

Sure, we all want to make good personal decisions, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s where “temptation bundling” comes in.

3/13/15
36:21
No. 199

This Idea Must Die

Every year, Edge.org asks its salon of big thinkers to answer one big question. This year’s question borders on heresy: what scientific idea is ready for retirement?

3/5/15
54:33
No. 198

The Maddest Men of All

Advertisers have always been adept at manipulating our emotions. Now they’re using behavioral economics to get even better.

2/26/15
36:04
No. 197

Hacking the World Bank

Jim Yong Kim has an unorthodox background for a World Bank president — and his reign thus far is just as unorthodox.

2/19/15
39:41
No. 196

Is There a Better Way to Fight Terrorism?

The White House is hosting an anti-terror summit next week. Summits being what they are, we try to offer some useful advice.

2/13/15
47:26
No. 195

How Efficient Is Energy Efficiency?

It’s a centerpiece of U.S. climate policy and a sacred cow among environmentalists. Does it work?

2/5/15
36:29
No. 194

How Safe Is Your Job?

Economists preach the gospel of “creative destruction,” whereby new industries — and jobs — replace the old ones. But has creative destruction become too destructive?

1/29/15
38:38
No. 193

Someone Else’s Acid Trip

As Kevin Kelly tells it, the hippie revolution and the computer revolution are nearly one and the same.

1/22/15
33:21
No. 192

That’s a Great Question!

Verbal tic or strategic rejoinder? Whatever the case: it’s rare to come across an interview these days where at least one question isn’t a “great” one.

1/15/15
30:13
No. 191

Why Doesn’t Everyone Get the Flu Vaccine?

Influenza kills, but you’d never know it by how few of us get the vaccine.

1/8/15
40:51
No. 150

What’s the “Best” Exercise? (Replay)

Most people blame lack of time for being out of shape. So maybe the solution is to exercise more efficiently.

1/1/15
19:09
No. 163

What’s More Dangerous: Marijuana or Alcohol? (Replay)

Imagine that both substances were undiscovered until today. How would we think about their relative risks?

12/25/14
28:18
No. 190

Time to Take Back the Toilet

Public bathrooms are noisy, poorly designed, and often nonexistent. What to do?

12/18/14
37:21
No. 142

The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat (Replay)

We spend billions on our pets, and one of the fastest-growing costs is pet “aftercare.” But are those cremated remains you got back really from your pet?

12/11/14
48:57
No. 189

How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps

Okay, maybe the steps aren’t so easy. But a program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble.

12/4/14
34:18
No. 188

Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?

We’ve all heard the depressing numbers: when compared to kids from other rich countries, U.S. students aren’t doing very well, especially in math, even though we spend more money per student than most other countries. So is the problem here as simple as adding two plus two? Is the problem here that our students aren’t getting very bright simply because … our teachers aren’t very bright?

11/27/14
39:02
No. 187

The Man Who Would Be Everything

Boris Johnson — mayor of London, biographer of Churchill, cheese-box painter and tennis-racket collector — answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.

11/20/14
32:35
No. 186

Why Do People Keep Having Children?

Even a brutal natural disaster doesn’t diminish our appetite for procreating. This surely means we’re heading toward massive overpopulation, right? Probably not.

11/13/14
43:31
No. 185

Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico?

Corporations around the world are consolidating like never before. If it’s good enough for companies, why not countries? Welcome to Amexico!

11/6/14
59:43
No. 184

What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics?

A lot! “The Economics of the Undead” is a book about dating strategy, job creation, and whether there should be a legal market for blood.

10/30/14
29:51
No. 183

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

The debut of a live game show from Freakonomics Radio, with judges Malcolm Gladwell, Ana Gasteyer, and David Paterson.

10/23/14
63:30
No. 182

How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas?

The Norwegian government parleys massive oil wealth into huge subsidies for electric cars. Is that carbon laundering or just pragmatic environmentalism?

10/16/14
40:34
No. 141

How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten (Replay)

The science of what works — and doesn’t work — in fundraising

10/9/14
37:10
No. 181

Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition

A team of economists has been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.

10/2/14
46:34
No. 180

Fitness Apartheid

Markets are hardly perfect, but the results can be ugly when you try to subvert them.

9/25/14
33:57
No. 179

Outsiders by Design

What does it mean to pursue something that everyone else thinks is nuts? And what does it take to succeed?

9/18/14
44:40
No. 178

How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying

Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t?

9/11/14
38:39
No. 177

Regulate This!

Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, EatWith, and other companies in the “sharing economy” are practically daring government regulators to shut them down. The regulators are happy to comply

9/4/14
57:39
No. 144

Who Runs the Internet? (Replay)

The online universe doesn’t have nearly as many rules, or rulemakers, as the real world. Discuss.

8/28/14
32:58
No. 118

Parking Is Hell (Replay)

There ain’t no such thing as a free parking spot. Somebody has to pay for it — and that somebody is everybody.

8/21/14
39:32
No. 126

What Do Medieval Nuns and Bo Jackson Have in Common? (Replay)

A look at whether spite pays — and if it even exists.

8/14/14
39:06
No. 129

Should Tipping Be Banned? (Replay)

It’s awkward, random, confusing — and probably discriminatory too.

8/7/14
44:29
No. 122

How Much Does Your Name Matter? (Replay)

A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?

7/31/14
51:24
No. 176

Does Religion Make You Happy?

It’s a hard question, but we do our best.

7/24/14
30:02
No. 175

Why You Should Bribe Your Kids

Educational messaging looks good on paper but kids don’t respond to it — and adults aren’t much better.

7/17/14
28:59
No. 174

What Do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common?

It isn’t easy to separate the guilty from the innocent, but a clever bit of game theory can help.

7/10/14
34:30
No. 173

A Better Way to Eat

Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. What can the rest of us learn from his breakthrough?

7/3/14
27:30
No. 172

How to Screen Job Applicants, Act Your Age, and Get Your Brain Off Autopilot

Dubner and Levitt answer reader questions in this first installment of the “Think Like a Freak” Book Club.

6/26/14
27:17
No. 171

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Appetizer

Is it really in a restaurant’s best interest to give customers free bread or chips before they even order?

6/19/14
37:49
No. 170

Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet)

Every four years, the U.S. takes a look at the World Cup and develops a slight crush. What would it take to really fall in love?

6/12/14
38:40
No. 169

Failure Is Your Friend

In which we argue that failure should not only be tolerated but celebrated.

6/5/14
32:29
No. 42

The Upside of Quitting (Replay)

You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?

5/29/14
59:40
No. 168

Think Like a Child

When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an eight year old.

5/22/14
29:41
No. 167

The Three Hardest Words in the English Language

Why learning to say “I don’t know” is one of the best things you can do.

5/15/14
30:21
No. 166

How to Think Like a Freak — and Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions

Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt talk about their new book and field questions about prestige, university life, and (yum yum) bacon.

5/8/14
28:55
No. 165

The Perfect Crime

If you are driving and kill a pedestrian, there’s a good chance you’ll barely be punished. Why?

5/1/14
29:54
No. 164

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Avocado?

When it comes to exercising outrage, people tend to be very selective. Could it be that humans are our least favorite animal?

4/24/14
34:57
No. 163

What’s More Dangerous: Marijuana or Alcohol?

Imagine that both substances were undiscovered until today. How would we think about their relative risks?

4/17/14
28:47
No. 162

“If Mayors Ruled the World”

Unlike certain elected officials in Washington, mayors all over the country actually get stuff done. So maybe we should ask them to do more?

4/10/14
35:32
No. 161

How to Make People Quit Smoking

The war on cigarettes has been fairly successful in some places. But 1 billion humans still smoke — so what comes next?

4/3/14
37:30
No. 160

Why Everybody Who Doesn’t Hate Bitcoin Loves It

Thinking of Bitcoin as just a digital currency is like thinking about the Internet as just e-mail. Its potential is much more exciting than that.

3/27/14
38:45
No. 116

Women Are Not Men (Replay)

In many ways, the gender gap is closing. In others, not so much. And that’s not always a bad thing.

3/20/14
38:34
No. 159

“It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana”

A psychology professor argues that the brain’s greatest attribute is knowing what other people are thinking. And that a Queen song, played backwards, can improve your mind-reading skills.

3/13/14
23:56
No. 158

Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?

Yes, it expands the mind but we usually don’t retain much — and then there’s the opportunity cost.

3/6/14
22:01
No. 157

Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?

In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. We’ll tell you why.

2/27/14
27:07
No. 156

Why Marry? (Part 2)

The consequences of our low marriage rate — and if the old model is less attractive, how about a new one?

2/20/14
27:08
No. 155

Why Marry? (Part 1)

The myths of modern marriage.

2/13/14
22:46
No. 154

What You Don’t Know About Online Dating

Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility.

2/6/14
40:18
No. 153

Reasons to Not Be Ugly

The “beauty premium” is real, for everyone from babies to NFL quarterbacks.

1/30/14
29:37
No. 152

Everybody Gossips (and That’s a Good Thing)

The benefits of rumor-mongering.

1/23/14
38:57
No. 92

Fear Thy Nature (Replay)

What “Sleep No More” and the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about who we really are.

1/16/14
37:53
No. 151

Are We Ready to Legalize Drugs? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions

Dubner and Levitt talk about fixing the post office, putting cameras in the classroom, and wearing hats.

1/9/14
32:11
No. 150

What’s the “Best” Exercise?

Most people blame lack of time for being out of shape. So maybe the solution is to exercise more efficiently.

1/2/14
19:25
No. 60

Save Me From Myself (Replay)

A commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be. What could possibly go wrong?

12/26/13
36:42
No. 149

Pontiff-icating on the Free-Market System

This week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio takes a look at Pope Francis’s critique of the free-market system in “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), his first apostolic exhortation.

12/19/13
42:07
No. 148

Are Gay Men Really Rich?

It’s easy to get that idea. But is the stereotype true?

12/12/13
24:25
No. 147

The Most Dangerous Machine

More than 1 million people die worldwide each year from traffic accidents. But there’s never been a safer time to drive.

12/5/13
34:52
No. 146

Fighting Poverty With Actual Evidence

It’s time to do away with feel-good stories, gut hunches, and magical thinking.

11/27/13
41:46
No. 145

What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common?

Spontaneous order is everywhere if you know where to look for it.

11/21/13
46:54
No. 144

Who Runs the Internet?

The online universe doesn’t have nearly as many rules, or rulemakers, as the real world. Discuss.

11/14/13
32:58
No. 88

Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2 (Replay)

College tends to make people happier, healthier, and wealthier. But how?

11/7/13
33:59
No. 86

Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1 (Replay)

What’s a college degree really worth these days?

10/31/13
29:40
No. 143

Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such an Easy Sell

Being green is rarely a black-and-white issue — but that doesn’t stop marketers and politicians from pretending it is.

10/24/13
25:02
No. 142

The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat

We spend billions on our pets, and one of the fastest-growing costs is pet “aftercare.” But are those cremated remains you got back really from your pet?

10/14/13
45:59
No. 141

How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten

The science of what works — and doesn’t work — in fundraising.

10/10/13
37:32
No. 140

How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush

Dubner and Levitt field your queries in this latest installment of our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.

10/3/13
30:05
No. 139

Would a Big Bucket of Cash Really Change Your Life?

A 19th-century Georgia land lottery may have something to teach us about today’s income inequality.

9/26/13
32:14
No. 39

The Economist’s Guide to Parenting (Replay)

Think you know how much parents matter? Think again. Economists crunch the numbers to learn the ROI on child-rearing.

9/19/13
58:27
No. 138

Whatever Happened to the Carpal Tunnel Epidemic?

Once upon a time, office workers across America lived in fear of a dreaded infirmity. Was the computer keyboard really the villain — and did carpal tunnel syndrome really go away?

9/12/13
20:35
No. 40

The Suicide Paradox (Replay)

There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises.

9/5/13
58:34
No. 137

Who Are the Most Successful Immigrants in the World?

It’s impossible to say for sure, but the Lebanese do remarkably well. Why?

8/29/13
30:20
No. 41

The Folly of Prediction (Replay)

Human beings love to predict the future, but we’re quite terrible at it. So how about punishing all those bad predictions?

8/22/13
58:30
No. 136

The Middle of Everywhere

Chicago has given the world more than sausage, crooked politics, and Da Bears.

8/15/13
30:50
No. 38

The Church of “Scionology” (Replay)

We worship the tradition of handing off a family business to the next generation. But is that really such a good idea?

8/8/13
57:28
No. 135

Do Baby Girls Cause Divorce?

Even American parents have a strong “son preference” — which means that a newborn daughter can be bad news for a marriage.

8/1/13
23:14
No. 42

The Upside of Quitting (Replay)

You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?

7/22/13
59:40
No. 134

Government Employees Gone Wild

The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failures catalogs the fiscal, sexual, and mental lapses of federal workers — all with an eye toward preventing the next big mistake.

7/18/13
23:58
No. 133

A Burger a Day

Is junk food an abomination or a modern miracle?

7/11/13
9:17
No. 132

“Jane Austen, Game Theorist”

What does “Pride and Prejudice” have to do with nuclear deterrence?

7/4/13
31:34
No. 84

Legacy of a Jerk (Replay)

What happens to your reputation when you’re no longer around to defend it?

6/27/13
44:05
No. 131

Do You Really Want to Know Your Future?

You might think that someone with a 50-50 chance of getting a fatal disease would want to know for sure — but you would be wrong. What does this say about our supposed thirst for certainty?

6/20/13
34:44
No. 130

Why Family and Business Don’t Mix: A New Marketplace Podcast

Yet another reason to blame your parents for pretty much everything.

6/12/13
7:38
No. 129

Should Tipping Be Banned?

It’s awkward, random, confusing — and probably discriminatory too.

6/3/13
41:25
No. 128

Baby, You Can Program My Car

A glimpse into our driverless future.

5/29/13
8:23
No. 127

Can You Be Too Smart for Your Own Good? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions

Dubner and Levitt talk about circadian rhythms, gay marriage, autism, and whether “pay what you want” is everything it’s cracked up to be.

5/23/13
30:21
No. 69

The Hidden Cost of False Alarms (Replay)

If any other product failed 94 percent of the time, you’d probably stop using it. So why do we put up with burglar alarms?

5/15/13
5:41
No. 126

What Do Medieval Nuns and Bo Jackson Have in Common?

A look at whether spite pays — and if it even exists.

5/9/13
43:21
No. 125

It’s Crowded at the Top

Why is unemployment still so high? It may be because of something that happened well before the Great Recession.

5/1/13
9:05
No. 124

Running to Do Evil

An interview with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whose younger brother turned him in — and what it says about the Boston bombers.

4/25/13
29:58
No. 123

Help Wanted. No Smokers Need Apply

In many states, it is perfectly legal to not hire someone who smokes. Should employers also be able to weed out junk-food lovers or motorcyclists — or anyone who wants to have a baby?

4/17/13
8:19
No. 122

How Much Does Your Name Matter?

A kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?

4/8/13
50:56
No. 121

The Tax Man Nudgeth

Real tax reform may or may not ever happen. In the meantime, how about making the current system work a bit better?

4/3/13
10:13
No. 120

100 Ways to Fight Obesity

Freakonomics asks a dozen smart people for their best ideas. Get ready for a fat tax, a sugar ban, and a calorie-chomping tapeworm.

3/27/13
37:21
No. 119

How Money Is March Madness?

The N.C.A.A. basketball tournament grabs a lot of eyeballs, but turning them into dollars hasn’t always been easy — even when the “talent” is playing for free.

3/21/13
6:28
No. 118

Parking Is Hell

There ain’t no such thing as a free parking spot. Somebody has to pay for it — and that somebody is everybody.

3/13/13
36:39
No. 117

When Is a Negative a Positive?

Sure, we all like to hear compliments. But if you’re truly looking to get better at something, it’s the negative feedback that will get you there.

3/6/13
7:33
No. 116

Women Are Not Men

In many ways, the gender gap is closing. In others, not so much. And that’s not always a bad thing.

2/24/13
37:23
No. 115

The Downside of More Miles Per Gallon

The gas tax doesn’t work well, and it’s only going to get worse. What’s next?

2/20/13
6:05
No. 114

How to Think About Guns

No one wants mass shootings. Unfortunately, no one has a workable plan to stop them either.

2/14/13
34:26
No. 113

Sure, I Remember That

It is startlingly easy to create false memories, especially in politics.

2/8/13
6:39
No. 112

Would You Let a Coin Toss Decide Your Future?

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “Would You Let a Coin Toss Decide Your Future?”

1/31/13
29:03
No. 111

Introducing “Freakonomics Experiments”

Steve Levitt has a novel idea for helping people make tough decisions.

1/24/13
5:01
No. 110

Who Owns the Words That Come Out of Your Mouth?

The very long reach of Winston Churchill — and how the British government is remaking copyright law.

1/17/13
35:57
No. 109

How to Live Longer

Why do Hall of Fame inductees, Oscar winners, and Nobel laureates outlive their peers?

1/10/13
6:07
No. 108

How Did “Freakonomics” Get Its Name?

Levitt and Dubner answer your questions about driving, sneezing, and ladies’ nights. Plus a remembrance of Levitt’s sister Linda.

1/3/13
32:02
No. 107

How Much Does a Good Boss Really Matter?

It’s harder than you’d think to measure the value of a boss. But some enterprising economists have done just that — and the news is good.

12/27/12
14:10
No. 106

The House of Dreams

Dubner’s childhood home goes from sacred to profane — and then back again.

12/20/12
24:45
No. 105

Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas

Who better than an economist to help with your shopping list?

12/13/12
15:10
No. 104

The Things They Taught Me

College, at its best, is about learning to think. Stephen Dubner chats up three of his former professors who made the magic happen.

12/6/12
23:59
No. 103

Free-conomics

Economists are a notoriously self-interested bunch. But a British outfit called Pro Bono Economics is giving away its services to selected charities.

11/29/12
6:19
No. 102

I Consult, Therefore I Am

There are enough management consultants these days to form a small nation. But what do they actually do? And does it work?

11/26/12
35:59
No. 101

Mass Transit Hysteria

Adding more train and bus lines looks like an environmental slam dunk. Until you start to do the math.

11/15/12
6:33
No. 100

Our 100th Episode!

Turkey sex and chicken wings, selling souls and swapping organs, the power of the president and the price of wine: these are a few of our favorite things

11/5/12
14:33
No. 99

How to Maximize Your Halloween Candy Haul

Is it as simple as going to the richest neighborhood you can find? Of course not …

11/1/12
5:59
No. 98

We the Sheeple

Politicians tell voters exactly what they want to hear, even when it makes no sense. Which is pretty much all the time.

10/25/12
23:25
No. 97

Lying to Ourselves

We rely on polls and surveys to tell us how people will behave in the future. Too bad they’re completely unreliable.

10/18/12
5:45
No. 96

The Cobra Effect

When you want to get rid of a nasty pest, one obvious solution comes to mind: just offer a cash reward. But be careful — because nothing backfires quite like a bounty.

10/11/12
37:46
No. 95

Why America’s Economic Growth May Be (Shh!) Over

Sure, we love our computers and all the rest of our digital toys. But when it comes to real economic gains, can we ever match old-school innovations like the automobile and electricity?

10/4/12
5:48
No. 94

The Tale of the $15 Tomato

Trying to go rustic by baking, brewing, and knitting at home can be terribly inefficient. And that’s a wonderful thing.

9/23/12
9:24
No. 93

Why Online Poker Should Be Legal

The data show that poker is indeed a game of skill, not chance, and a Federal judge agrees. So why are players still being treated like criminals?

9/19/12
5:25
No. 92

Fear Thy Nature

What “Sleep No More” and the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about who we really are.

9/14/12
42:25
No. 91

Can Selling Beer Cut Down on Public Drunkenness?

Binge drinking is a big problem at college football games. Oliver Luck — father of No. 1 N.F.L. pick Andrew, and the athletic director at West Virginia University — had an unusual idea to help solve it.

9/6/12
5:45
No. 90

How Deep Is the Shadow Economy?

What we know — and don’t know — about the gazillions of dollars that never show up on anyone’s books.

8/30/12
24:39
No. 89

There’s Cake in the Breakroom!

If you think working from home offers too many distractions, just think about what happens at the office.

8/23/12
6:10
No. 88

Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2

College tends to make people happier, healthier, and wealthier. But how?

8/16/12
36:58
No. 87

The Season of Death

We know that summertime brings far too many fatal accidents. But you may be surprised if you dig into the numbers.

8/8/12
6:33
No. 86

Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1

What’s a college degree really worth these days?

7/30/12
34:38
No. 85

Olympian Economics

Do host cities really get the benefits their boosters promise, or are they just engaging in some fiscal gymnastics?

7/25/12
6:59
No. 84

Legacy of a Jerk

What happens to your reputation when you’re no longer around to defend it?

7/19/12
44:05
No. 83

What’s Wrong With Cash for Grades?

If we want our kids to thrive in school, maybe we should just pay them.

7/10/12
6:15
No. 82

Please Steal My Car

Levitt and Dubner answer your FREAK-quently Asked Questions about junk food, insurance, and how to make an economist happy.

7/5/12
26:12
No. 81

Star-Spangled Banter?

Once a week, the British Prime Minister goes before the House of Commons for a lightning round of hard questions. Should the U.S. give it a try?

6/26/12
7:13
No. 80

Riding the Herd Mentality

How using peer pressure — and good, old-fashioned shame — can push people to do the right thing.

6/21/12
36:26
No. 79

A Cheap Employee Is … a Cheap Employee

Paying workers as little as possible seems smart — unless you can make more money by paying them more.

6/13/12
6:03
No. 78

You Eat What You Are, Part 2

To feed 7 billion people while protecting the environment, it would seem that going local is a no-brainer — until you start looking at the numbers.

6/7/12
28:59
No. 77

Playing the Nerd Card

The N.B.A.’s superstars are suddenly sporting Urkel glasses — but is it more than a fashion statement?

5/30/12
5:29
No. 76

You Eat What You Are, Part 1

How American food so got bad — and why it’s getting so much better.

5/24/12
30:08
No. 75

Retirement Kills

Sure, we all dream of leaving the office forever. But what if it’s bad for your health?

5/16/12
5:36
No. 74

Soul Possession

In a world where nearly everything is for sale, is it always okay to buy what isn’t yours?

5/7/12
28:40
No. 73

A Rose By Any Other Distance

At a time when people worry about every mile their food must travel, why is it okay to import most of our cut flowers from thousands of miles away?

5/2/12
6:48
No. 72

Lottery Loopholes and Deadly Doctors

What do you do when smart people keep making stupid mistakes? And: are we a nation of financial illiterates? This is a “mashupdate” of “Is America Ready for a “No-Lose Lottery”?,” “The “No-Lose Lottery,” Part 2,” and “What Do Hand-Washing and Financial Illiteracy Have in Common?“

4/26/12
58:16
No. 71

Is Good Corporate Citizenship Also Good for the Bottom Line?

A new study says that yes, it is — but try telling that to the United Nations officials who are preaching sustainability practices.

4/19/12
6:20
No. 70

Eating and Tweeting

Does the future of food lie in its past – or inside a tank of liquid nitrogen? Also: how anti-social can you be on a social network? This is a “mashupdate” of “Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup, Part 1,” “Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup, Part 2,” and “Is Twitter a Two-Way Street?”

4/11/12
58:27
No. 69

The Hidden Cost of False Alarms

If any other product failed 94 percent of the time, you’d probably stop using it. So why do we put up with burglar alarms?

4/4/12
5:41
No. 68

The Power of the President — and the Thumb

How much does the President of the United States really matter? And: where did all the hitchhikers go? A pair of “attribution errors.” This is a “mashupdate” of “How Much Does the President Really Matter?” and “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?”

3/29/12
59:12
No. 67

The Patent Gap

Women hold fewer than one in 10 patents. Why? And what are we missing out on?

3/23/12
4:46
No. 66

Show and Yell

Is booing an act of verbal vandalism or the last true expression of democracy? And: when you drive a Prius, are you guilty of “conspicuous conservation”? This is a “mashupdate” of “Hey, Baby, Is That a Prius You’re Driving?” and “Boo … Who?”

3/15/12
61:01
No. 65

It’s Not the President, Stupid

Isn’t it time to admit that the U.S. economy doesn’t have a commander in chief?

3/8/12
5:24
No. 64

The Days of Wine and Mouses

Do more expensive wines taste better? And: what does one little rodent in a salad say about a restaurant’s future? This is a “mashupdate” of “Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?” and “A Mouse in the Salad.”

2/27/12
57:48
No. 63

The Dilbert Index?

Measuring workplace morale — and how to game the sick-day system.

2/23/12
6:15
No. 62

How Biased Is Your Media?

The left and the right blame each other for pretty much everything, including slanted media coverage. Can they both be right?

2/16/12
39:09
No. 61

Does This Recession Make Me Look Fat?

A look at some non-obvious ways to lose weight.

2/9/12
5:02
No. 60

Save Me From Myself

A commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be. What could possibly go wrong?

2/2/12
35:24
No. 59

The Hidden Side of the Super Bowl

A football cheat sheet to help you sound like the smartest person at the party.

1/26/12
5:02
No. 58

What Do Hand-Washing and Financial Illiteracy Have in Common?

Education is the surest solution to a lot of problems. Except when it’s not.

1/19/12
36:26
No. 57

Does Money Really Buy Elections?

We all know the answer is yes. But the data — and Rudy Giuliani — say no.

1/12/12
5:31
No. 56

Why Is “I Don’t Know” So Hard to Say?

Levitt and Dubner answer your FREAK-quently Asked Questions about certifying politicians, irrational fears, and the toughest three words in the English language.

1/4/12
17:31
No. 55

The Perils of Drunk Walking

We know it’s terribly dangerous to drive drunk. But heading home on foot isn’t the solution.

12/28/11
6:03
No. 54

How Is a Bad Radio Station Like Our Public-School System? (Encore)

The thrill of customization, via Pandora and a radical new teaching method.

12/21/11
28:40
No. 53

How American Food Got So Bad

Tyler Cowen points fingers. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

12/14/11
5:21
No. 52

Weird Recycling

Clever ways to not waste our waste.

12/3/11
25:32
No. 51

What Makes a Donor Donate?

The science of charity, with economist John List.

11/30/11
5:17
No. 50

The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?

There’s a nasty secret about hot-button topics like global warming: knowledge is not always power.

11/23/11
34:36
No. 49

Unnatural Turkeys

Our appetite for breast meat renders our holiday birds unable to reproduce.

11/17/11
4:38
No. 48

Boo…Who?

Is booing an act of verbal vandalism—or the last true expression of democracy?

11/10/11
33:58
No. 47

Wildfires, Cops, and Keggers

An election cycle brings about more than voting around the world. There are many odd by-products, often inspired by how the incentives line up for those in power.

11/2/11
4:53
No. 46

Misadventures in Baby-Making

We are constantly wowed by new technologies and policies meant to make childbirth better. But beware the unintended consequences.

10/26/11
28:02
No. 45

Those Cheating Teachers!

High-stakes testing has produced some rotten apples. But they can be caught.

10/19/11
5:18
No. 44

Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?

Did we needlessly scare ourselves into ditching a good thing? And, with millions of cars driving around with no passengers, should we be rooting for a renaissance?

10/10/11
30:00
No. 43

The Decline and Fall of Violence

The world is a more peaceful place today that at any time in history — by a long, long shot.

10/5/11
6:15
No. 42

The Upside of Quitting

You know the saying: a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. To which Freakonomics Radio says … Are you sure?

9/30/11
59:40
No. 41

The Folly of Prediction

Human beings love to predict the future, but we’re quite terrible at it. So how about punishing all those bad predictions?

9/14/11
58:22
No. 40

The Suicide Paradox

There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Freakonomics Radio digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises

8/31/11
57:21
No. 39

The Economist’s Guide to Parenting

Think you know how much parents matter? Think again. Economists crunch the numbers to learn the ROI on child-rearing.

8/17/11
58:27
No. 38

The Church of “Scionology”

We worship the tradition of handing off a family business to the next generation. But is that really such a good idea?

8/3/11
57:28
No. 37

Mouse in the Salad

In restaurants and in life, bad things happen. But what happens next is just as important.

7/21/11
28:41
No. 36

Hey Baby, Is That a Prius You’re Driving?

Conspicuous conservation is about showing off your environmental bona fides. In other words, if you lean green, there’s extra value in being seen leaning green.

7/7/11
27:16
No. 35

Live From St. Paul!

Freakonomics Radio hits the road, and plays some Quiz Bowl!

6/23/11
28:36
No. 34

Things Our Fathers Gave Us

What did Levitt and Dubner learn as kids from their dads?

6/8/11
14:27
No. 33

To Catch a Fugitive

Who is likelier to get to the fugitive first? When a fugitive is on the run, it’s not only the police he has to worry about. A bounty hunter could be coming after him, too.

5/26/11
19:12
No. 32

Growing Up Buffett

What’s it like to wake up one day and realize Dad is a multi-billionaire? That’s what happened to Warren Buffett’s son, Peter — who then started to think about whether or not to join the family.

5/13/11
15:00
No. 31

Gambling With Your Life

Does Las Vegas increase your risk of suicide? A researcher embeds himself in the city where Americans are most likely to kill themselves.

5/2/11
19:10
No. 30

Does College Still Matter? And Other Freaky Questions Answered…

In our second round of FREAK-quently Asked Questions, Steve Levitt answers some queries from listeners and readers.

4/15/11
16:53
No. 29

Smarter Kids at 10 Bucks a Pop

It won’t work for everyone, but there’s a cheap, quick, and simple way to lift some students’ grades.

4/8/11
20:32
No. 28

Why Can’t We Predict Earthquakes?

We talk to a U.S. Geological Survey physicist about the science — and folly — of predicting earthquakes. There are lots of known knowns; and, fortunately, not too many unknown unknowns. But it’s the known unknowns — the timing of the next Big One — that are the most dangerous.

4/1/11
21:27
No. 27

Death by Fire? Probably Not

Fire deaths in the U.S. have fallen 90 percent over the past 100 years, a great and greatly underappreciated gain. How did it happen — and could we ever get to zero?

3/24/11
20:12
No. 26

The Health of Nations

For decades, G.D.P. has been the yardstick for measuring living standards around the world. Martha Nussbaum would rather use something that actually works.

3/18/11
23:03
No. 25

Is Twitter a Two-Way Street?

To get a lot of followers on Twitter, do you need to follow a lot of other Tweeps? And if not, why not?

3/10/11
26:31
No. 24

The Power of Poop

Since the beginning of civilization, we’ve thought that human waste was worthless at best, and often dangerous. What if we were wrong?

3/4/11
19:51
No. 23

Millionaires vs. Billionaires

Five things you don’t know about the NFL labor standoff.

2/24/11
28:41
No. 22

Why Cities Rock

Could it be that cities are “our greatest invention” – that, despite their reputation as soot-spewing engines of doom, they in fact make us richer, smarter, happier and (gulp) greener?

2/18/11
17:07
No. 21

Bring on the Pain!

Bring on the Pain! It’s not about how much something hurts — it’s how you remember the pain. This week, lessons on pain from the New York City subway, the professional hockey rink, and a landmark study of colonoscopy patients. So have a listen. We promise, it won’t hurt a bit.

2/10/11
25:40
No. 20

Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup, Part 2

What do a computer hacker, an Indiana farm boy, and Napoleon Bonaparte have in common? The past, present, and future of food science.

2/3/11
27:21
No. 19

Waiter, There’s a Physicist In My Soup, Part I

The “molecular gastronomy” movement — which gets a bump in visibility next month with the publication of the mammoth cookbook “Modernist Cuisine” — is all about bringing more science into the kitchen. In many ways,it is the opposite of the “slow food” movement. In this episode, you’ll hear the chieftains of the two camps square off: Alice Waters for the slow foodies and Nathan Myhrvold for the mad scientists. Bon appetit!

1/27/11
26:24
No. 18

Freakonomics FAQ, No. 1

Levitt and Dubner field questions from the public and hold forth on everything from dating strategies and rock-and-roll accordion music to whether different nations have different economic identities. Oh, and also: is it worthwhile to vote?

1/20/11
16:44
No. 17

Trashed

How economics — and emotion — have turned our garbage into such a mess.

1/13/11
21:53
No. 16

Exit Interview: Schools Chancellor, NYC

Having already amassed an eventful resume — the Clinton White House, the Department of Justice, and Bertelsmann — Joel I. Klein spent the past eight years at chancellor of the biggest school system in the country. So what’d he learn?

1/6/11
15:16
No. 15

You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let’s Do It!

What happens when the most disturbing ideas are also the best?

12/30/10
26:33
No. 14

Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?

They should! It’s a cardinal rule: more expensive items are supposed to be qualitatively better than their cheaper versions. But is that true for wine?

12/16/10
25:22
No. 13

The “No-Lose Lottery,” Part 2

It’s the banking tool that got millions of people around the world to stop wasting money on the lottery. So why won’t state and federal officials in the U.S. give it a chance?

12/2/10
21:44
No. 12

Is America Ready for a “No-Lose Lottery”?

For the most part, Americans don’t like the simple, boring act of putting money in a savings account. We do, however, love to play the lottery. So what if you combined the two, creating a new kind of savings account with a lottery payout?

11/18/10
25:41
No. 11

How Much Does the President Really Matter?

The U.S. president is often called the “leader of the free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership, and its impact on the economy and the country.

11/4/10
32:54
No. 10

The N.F.L.’s Best Real Estate Isn’t for Sale. Yet.

The N.F.L. is very good at making money. So why on earth doesn’t it sell ad space on the one piece of real estate that football fans can’t help but see: the players themselves? The explanation is trickier than you might think. It has to do with Peyton Manning, with Eli Manning, and with…wait for it…Tevye.

10/29/10
22:04
No. 9

Reading, Rockets, and ‘Rithmetic

Government and the private sector often feel far apart. One is filled with compliance-driven bureaucracy. The other, with market-fueled innovation. But something is changing in a multi-billion-dollar corner of the Department of Education. It’s an experiment, which takes cues from the likes of Google and millionaires who hope to go to the moon.

10/21/10
20:20
No. 8

Who Stole All the Runs in Major League Baseball?

It was a pretty good baseball season — especially if you’re a fan of the Yankees, Rays, Twins, Rangers, Reds, Braves, Phillies, or Giants, all of whom made the playoffs. But the post-season just opened with a telling event, a no-hitter pitched by the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, which shows what’s been missing all season: runs.

10/7/10
24:10
No. 7

Two Book Authors and a Microphone

The next chapter in the adventures of Dubner and Levitt has begun. Listen to a preview of what’s to come for the fall season of Freakonomics Radio.

9/30/10
11:32
No. 6

Why the World Cup Is an Economist’s Dream

Steve Levitt talks about why the center cannot hold in penalty kicks, why a running track hurts home-field advantage, and why the World Cup is an economist’s dream.

6/10/10
8:44
No. 5

How Is a Bad Radio Station Like the Public School System?

In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, we explore a way to make 1.1 million schoolkids feel like they have 1.1 million teachers.

5/12/10
28:33
No. 4

Faking It

Do you “fake it?” If so, you’re hardly alone. In this episode, you’ll hear how everyone from the President of the United States to a kosher-keeping bacon-lover lives in a state of fallen grace. All the time. And gets by.

4/13/10
19:22
No. 3

What Would the World Look Like if Economists Were in Charge?

In this episode, we speculate what would happen if economists got to run the world. Hear from a high-end call girl; an Estonian who ran his country according to the gospel of Milton Friedman; and a guy who wants to start building new nations in the middle of the ocean.

3/24/10
19:40
No. 2

Is America’s Obesity Epidemic For Real?

Americans keep putting on pounds. So is it time for a cheeseburger tax? Or would a chill pill be the best medicine? In this episode, we explore the underbelly of fat through the eyes of a 280-pound woman, a top White House doctor, and a couple of overweight academics.

2/26/10
21:05
No. 1

The Dangers of Safety

In the first episode (subscribe at iTunes; or listen now in the player at right), we ask the question “What Do NASCAR Drivers, Glenn Beck, and the Hitmen of the N.F.L. Have in Common?”

2/5/10
26:53

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