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Season 13, Episode 38

From politics and economics to psychology and the arts, many of the modern ideas we take for granted emerged a century ago from a single European capital. In this episode of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, the historian Richard Cockett explores all those ideas — and how the arrival of fascism can ruin in a few years what took generations to build.

5/16/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 37

So you want to help people? That’s great — but beware the law of unintended consequences. Three stories from the modern workplace.

5/9/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 36

People who are good at their jobs routinely get promoted into bigger jobs they’re bad at. We explain why firms keep producing incompetent managers — and why that’s unlikely to change.

5/2/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 35

Justin Trudeau, facing record-low approval numbers, is doubling down on his progressive agenda. But he is so upbeat (and Canada-polite) that it’s easy to miss just how radical his vision is. Can he make it work?

4/25/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 34

Are we living through the most revolutionary period in history? Fareed Zakaria says yes. But it’s not just political revolution — it’s economic, technological, even emotional. He doesn’t offer easy solutions but he does offer some hope.

4/18/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 33

As the U.S. tries to fix its messy immigration system, our neighbor to the north is scooping up more talented newcomers every year. Are the Canadians stealing America’s bacon? (Part three of a three-part series.)

4/11/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 32

The U.S. immigration system is a massively complicated machine, with a lot of worn-out parts. How to fix it? Step one: Get hold of some actual facts and evidence. (We did this step for you.) (Part two of a three-part series.)

4/4/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 31

How did a nation of immigrants come to hate immigration? We start at the beginning, sort through the evidence, and explain why your grandfather was lying about Ellis Island. (Part one of a three-part series.)

3/28/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 30

Economists have discovered an odd phenomenon: many people who use social media (even you, maybe?) wish it didn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean they can escape.

3/21/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 29

What surprises lurk in our sewage? How did racist city planners end up saving Black lives? Why does Arizona grow hay for cows in Saudi Arabia? Three strange stories about the most fundamental substance we all take for granted.

3/14/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 28

We conclude our series on Richard Feynman. And later: Google used to feel like magic. Now it can feel like a set of cheap tricks. Is the problem with Google — or with us? And is Google Search finally facing a real rival, in the form of A.I.-powered “answer engines”?

3/7/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 27

In his final years, Richard Feynman’s curiosity took him to some surprising places. We hear from his companions on the trips he took — and one he wasn’t able to. (Part three of a series.)

2/29/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 26

What happens when an existentially depressed and recently widowed young physicist from Queens gets a fresh start in California? We follow Richard Feynman out west, to explore his long and extremely fruitful second act. (Part two of a series.)

2/22/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 25

From the Manhattan Project to the Challenger investigation, the physicist Richard Feynman loved to shoot down what he called “lousy ideas.” Today, the world is awash in lousy ideas — so maybe it’s time to get some more Feynman in our lives? (Part one of a series.)

2/15/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 24

Michael Roth of Wesleyan University doesn’t hang out with other university presidents. He also thinks some of them have failed a basic test of good sense and decency. It’s time for a conversation about college, and courage.

2/8/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 23

We conclude our series on academic fraud. And later: 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. 

2/1/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 22

Can academic fraud be stopped? Probably not — the incentives are too strong. Scholarly publishing is a $28 billion global industry, with misconduct at every level. But a few reformers are gaining ground.

1/25/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 21

Some of the biggest names in behavioral science stand accused of faking their results. Last year, an astonishing 10,000 research papers were retracted. We talk to whistleblowers, reformers, and a co-author who got caught up in the chaos.

1/18/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 20

Most travelers want the cheapest flight they can find. Airlines, meanwhile, need to manage volatile fuel costs, a pricey workforce, and complex logistics. So how do they make money — and how did America’s grubbiest airport suddenly turn into a palace? (Part 3 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)

1/11/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 19

Thanks to decades of work by airlines and regulators, plane crashes are nearly a thing of the past. Can we do the same for cars? (Part 2 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)

1/4/24
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 18

Air travel is an unnatural activity that has become normal. You’re stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of strangers (and strange smells), defying gravity and racing through the sky. But oh, the places you’ll go! We visit the world’s busiest airport to see how it all comes together. (Part 1 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)

12/28/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 17

Michael Lewis got incredible access to Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire behind the spectacular FTX fraud. His book is a bestseller, but some critics say he went too easy on S.B.F. Lewis tells us why the critics are wrong — and what it’s like to watch your book get turned into a courtroom drama.

12/21/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 16

In policing, as in most vocations, the best employees are often promoted into leadership without much training. One economist thinks he can address this problem — and, with it, America’s gun violence.

12/14/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 15

Public transit 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. Also: We talk to the man who gets half the nation’s mass-transit riders where they want to go (most of the time).

12/7/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 14

Most industries have become more productive over time. But not construction! We identify the causes — and possible solutions. (Can you say … “prefab”?)

11/30/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 13

Private equity firms say they make companies more efficient through savvy management. Critics say they bend the rules to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and employees. Can they both be right? (Probably not.)

11/23/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 12

Everyone makes mistakes. How do you learn from them? Lessons from the classroom, the Air Force, and the world’s deadliest infectious disease. Part of the series “How to Succeed at Failing.”

11/16/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 11

Giving up can be painful. That’s why we need to talk about it. Today: stories about glitchy apps, leaky paint cans, broken sculptures — and a quest for the perfect bowl of ramen. Part of the series “How to Succeed at Failing.”

11/9/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 10

In medicine, failure can be catastrophic. It can also produce discoveries that save millions of lives. Tales from the front line, the lab, and the I.T. department. Part of the series “How to Succeed at Failing.”

11/2/23
50:30
No. 0

Season 13, Episode 9

We tend to think of tragedies as a single terrible moment, rather than the result of multiple bad decisions. Can this pattern be reversed? We try — with stories about wildfires, school shootings, and love.

10/26/23
50:30
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