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Episode No.
Date
Length
EXTRA

The Economics of Everyday Things: Girl Scout Cookies

How does America’s cutest sales force get billions of Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs into our hands every year? Zachary Crockett finds out in the second episode of our newest podcast, The Economics of Everyday Things.

1/29/23
16:13
No. 532

Do You Know Who Owns Your Vet?

When small businesses get bought by big investors, the name may stay the same — but customers and employees can feel the difference. (Part 2 of 2.)

1/25/23
49:05
EXTRA

Introducing “The Economics of Everyday Things”

A new podcast hosted by Zachary Crockett. In the first episode: Gas stations. When gas prices skyrocket, do station owners get a windfall? And where do their profits really come from?

1/22/23
18:14
No. 531

Should You Trust Private Equity to Take Care of Your Dog?

Big investors are buying up local veterinary practices (and pretty much everything else). What does this mean for scruffy little Max* — and for the U.S. economy? (Part 1 of 2.)

*The most popular dog name in the U.S. in 2022.

1/18/23
48:36
EXTRA

Extra: Samin Nosrat Always Wanted to Be Famous

And with her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, she succeeded. Now she’s not so sure how to feel about all the attention.

1/15/23
39:53
No. 530

What’s Wrong with Being a One-Hit Wonder?

We tend to look down on artists who can’t match their breakthrough success. Should we be celebrating them instead?

1/11/23
51:53
No. 529

Can Our Surroundings Make Us Smarter?

In a special episode of No Stupid Questions, Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss classroom design, open offices, and cognitive drift.

1/4/23
47:46
No. 528

Yuval Noah Harari Thinks Life is Meaningless and Amazing

In this special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt talks to the best-selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus about finding the profound in the obvious.

12/28/22
56:24
No. 527

Can Adam Smith Fix Our Economy?

Labor exploitation! Corporate profiteering! Government corruption! The 21st century can look a lot like the 18th. In the final episode of a series, we turn to “the father of economics” for solutions. (Part 3 of “In Search of the Real Adam Smith.”)

12/21/22
53:49
No. 526

Was Adam Smith Really a Right-Winger?

Economists and politicians have turned him into a mascot for free-market ideology. Some on the left say the right has badly misread him. Prepare for a very Smithy tug of war. (Part 2 of “In Search of the Real Adam Smith.”)

12/14/22
76:23
No. 525

In Search of the Real Adam Smith

How did an affable 18th-century “moral philosopher” become the patron saint of cutthroat capitalism? Does “the invisible hand” mean what everyone thinks it does? We travel to Smith’s hometown in Scotland to uncover the man behind the myth. (Part 1 of a series.)

12/7/22
51:39
No. 524

How Important Is Breastfeeding, Really?

In this special episode of Freakonomics, M.D., host Bapu Jena looks at a clever new study that could help answer one of parenting’s most contentious questions.

11/30/22
35:54
No. 523

Did Michael Lewis Just Get Lucky with “Moneyball”?

No — but he does have a knack for stumbling into the perfect moment, including the recent FTX debacle.

11/23/22
59:40
No. 522

Is Google Getting Worse?

It used to feel like magic. Now it can feel like a set of cheap tricks. Is the problem with Google — or with us?

11/16/22
60:32
No. 375

The Most Interesting Fruit in the World (Update)

The banana, once a luxury good, rose to become America’s favorite fruit. Now a deadly fungus threatens to wipe it out. Can it be saved?

11/9/22
41:07
No. 521

I’m Your Biggest Fan!

It’s fun to obsess over pop stars and racecar drivers — but is fandom making our politics even more toxic?

11/2/22
49:18
No. 520

The Unintended Consequences of Working from Home

The last two years have radically changed the way we work — producing winners, losers, and a lot of surprises.

10/26/22
45:52
No. 519

Has Globalization Failed?

It was supposed to boost prosperity and democracy at the same time. What really happened? According to the legal scholar Anthea Roberts, it depends which story you believe.

10/19/22
49:46
No. 518

Are Personal Finance Gurus Giving You Bad Advice?

One Yale economist certainly thinks so. But even if he’s right, are economists any better?

10/12/22
62:48
No. 517

Are M.B.A.s to Blame for Wage Stagnation?

New research finds that bosses who went to business school pay their workers less. So what are M.B.A. programs teaching — and should they stop?

10/5/22
47:35
No. 439

Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears (Update)

The pandemic provided city dwellers with a break from the din of the modern world. Now the noise is coming back. What does that mean for our productivity, health, and basic sanity?

9/28/22
56:24
No. 516

Nuclear Power Isn’t Perfect. Is It Good Enough?

Liberals endorse harm reduction when it comes to the opioid epidemic. Are they ready to take the same approach to climate change?

9/21/22
58:28
No. 515

When You Pray to God Online, Who Else Is Listening?

The pandemic moved a lot of religious activity onto the internet. With faith-based apps, Silicon Valley is turning virtual prayers into earthly rewards. Does this mean sharing user data? Dear God, let’s hope not …

9/14/22
49:45
No. 472

This Is Your Brain on Pollution (Update)

As the Biden administration rushes to address climate change, Stephen Dubner looks at another, hidden cost of air pollution — one that’s affecting how we think.

9/7/22
52:35
No. 514

Roland Fryer Refuses to Lie to Black America

The controversial Harvard economist, recently back from a suspension, “broke a lot of glass early in my career,” he says. His research on school incentives and police brutality won him acclaim — but also enemies. Now he’s taking a hard look at corporate diversity programs. The common thread in his work? “I refuse to not tell the truth.”

8/31/22
61:29
No. 513

Should Public Transit Be Free?

It boosts economic opportunity and social mobility. It’s good for the environment. So why do we charge people to use it? The short answer: it’s complicated.

8/24/22
47:41
No. 477

Why Is U.S. Media So Negative? (Replay)

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.

8/17/22
47:47
No. 470

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

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.

8/10/22
52:38
No. 469

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

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?

8/3/22
54:46
No. 512

Does Philosophy Still Matter?

It used to be at the center of our conversations about politics and society. Scott Hershovitz (author of Nasty, Brutish, and Short) argues that philosophy still has a lot to say about work, justice, and parenthood. Our latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

7/27/22
53:00
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