If you have a tough decision to make, wander on over to FreakonomicsExperiments.com. So far we’ve helped more than 20,000 people make decisions, and the preliminary results look great.
As an incentive to get people who tossed coins at FreakonomicsExperiments to complete follow-up surveys, we promised to give away prizes via lottery. As evidence we kept our word, the complete list of winners is here.
I listened to your podcast on letting a coin decide your future – and wanted to make my own, small contribution to your piece. I am an attending physician now – but back when I was in medical school (early 2000s), I helped out with the admissions process by interviewing prospective candidates. On one day of interviews, my faculty colleague and I conducted six interviews – and by the end of the day, our job was to rank each of the candidates that we had interviewed. We independently agreed on No. 1 and No. 2 (and No. 5 and No. 6), but neither of us could decide between No. 3 and No. 4. He asked me how we should resolve this – and I (jokingly) suggested that we should flip a coin. Ironically, he loved the idea – and pulled out a coin, and then we assigned each candidate to heads/tails. We said that whoever won the coin toss would get 3rd. (Interestingly, we flipped the coin only once – not two out of three.)
A few weeks back, we launched Freakonomics Experiments, a website designed to help you make both big and small decisions in your life when you’re feeling stuck. First, we try to get you thinking differently about the choices with the hope you can figure it out on your own. If that fails, we flip a coin to help you decide.
Now, we are looking for a handful of folks who are willing to take it to a whole other level. We are looking for an intrepid few who, in the name of Freakonomics, are willing to let a coin toss decide a handful of life decisions. We want to get to know you, watch your life unfold at the mercy of fate, and make you characters in our next book.
If you think you have what it takes, fill out the online application and you just may be one of the few, the not-so-proud, the Freak guinea pigs.
Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Introducing ‘Freakonomics Experiments.'” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player in the post, or read the transcript below.)
In it, Steve Levitt tells Kai Ryssdal about a new website we’ve just launched that will help you make tough decisions in life while also taking part in academic research. And there’s Freakonomics swag to be had, too.
A: Freakonomics Experiments is a set of simple experiments about complex issues — whether to break up with your significant other, quit your job, or start a diet, just to name a few.
Sometimes in life you face one of these decisions, and you just don’t know what to do. In the end, whatever you decide will essentially be a flip of a coin. Freakonomics Experiments helps you make the decision by flipping that coin for you. Over the next few months, we’ll then check in with you with surveys and other materials. In turn, you’ll help further scientific research. Unlike most games of chance, participating in this experiment is win-win.
We all face big choices from time to time. Which college to choose? Should I break up with my girlfriend? Should I quit my job? Should I dye my hair blond?
Sometimes the decisions are easy and obvious. Other times, no matter how much you think about it, no clear answer emerges. Your life might be very different depending on what path you take, but you just can’t tell which choice will leave you better off.