How Should We Be Thinking About Urbanization? A Freakonomics Quorum

Urbanization has been climbing steadily of late, with more than half of the world’s population now living in cities. Given the economic, sociological, political, and environmental ramifications, how should we be thinking about this? We gathered a quorum of smart thinkers on this subject — James Howard Kunstler, Edward Glaeser, Robert Bruegmann, Dolores Hayden, and […]

Why Is Family Guy Okay When Imus Wasn’t?

Don Imus is back on the radio, brimming with apology and announcing a new cast that includes two African-American comedians. He was run off the air a few months ago for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed ho’s.” I understand why he was canned. I understand why he is back. I understand that […]

Adopt and Prosper?

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal about online lending reports that Zopa, a British person-to-person lending market, is starting operations in the U.S. It will join, among others,, which the WSJ reports will issue $100 million in person-to-person loans this year, with future loan originations projected to be $1 billion in 2010 and […]

The FREAK-est Links

eBay structures micro-loans for businesses in impoverished regions. (Earlier) Is the “Kitty Genovese Effect” overblown? (Hat tip: BPS Research) Amazon quadruples profits from Harry Potter sales. (Earlier) Just how skin-deep is beauty?

Monkeys Are Machiavellian, Too

Wild monkeys assaulted the deputy mayor of New Delhi on Saturday as he sat on his terrace, reading the morning paper. In the scuffle, S.S. Bajwa lost his balance, tumbled from his building, and died the next day from injuries sustained in the fall. The attackers were rhesus macaques, which have overrun parts of Delhi […]

Frank Warren Spills His Secrets

Last week, we solicited your questions for Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret. Here are his answers. Q: What gave you the idea to start this project? A: There are two kinds of secrets. The ones we keep from others and the ones we keep from ourselves. I think I began collecting secrets from strangers […]

The Economics of Gold-Digging

The following story is currently making the rounds on the Internet. The events probably didn’t happen exactly as described, but for my purposes it doesn’t really matter. Supposedly, a woman posted the following personal ad on Craigslist: What am I doing wrong? Okay, I’m tired of beating around the bush. I’m a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) […]

Terrorism, a Bridge Collapse, and the Weather

A reader inquires why weather and infrastructure disasters are treated so differently from terrorist attacks.

One Asymmetric Information Problem That the Internet Will Not Solve

A young woman in England wants to sell something unusual to fund her college education. We wrote in Freakonomics about how the increased access to information provided by the Internet has helped consumers overcome the historical information advantage that real estate agents and life insurance salespeople have had. This is one case, however, in which […]