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Freakonomics Radio

​Dubner Productions and Stitcher

Discover the hidden side of everything with Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics books. Each week, Freakonomics Radio tells you things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do) — from the economics of sleep to how to become great at just about anything. Dubner speaks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, intellectuals and entrepreneurs, and various other underachievers. Special features include series like “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.” as well as a live game show, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” 

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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.

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Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Demonization of Gluten

Oct 19th, 201743:55

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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How do 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.

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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.

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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.

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These Shoes Are Killing Me!

Jul 20th, 201739:14

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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​Letting Go

Feb 22nd45:00

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?

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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.")

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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.")

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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.

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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.

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Are We Running Out of Ideas?

Nov 30th, 201737:04

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?

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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?

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Nurses to the Rescue!

Nov 16th, 201757:43

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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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When Helping Hurts

Jul 13th, 201751:25

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

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Evolution, Accelerated

Jun 15th, 201735:40

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? Help us meet the Freakonomics Radio listener challenge. If 500 of you become sustaining members at just $7/month before June 30th we'll unlock an additional $25,000 from the Tow Foundation. Become a member now!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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The Taboo Trifecta

Mar 2nd, 201732:06

The 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.

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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.

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Trevor Noah Has a Lot to Say

Jan 12th, 201735:19

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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

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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. (Ep. 2 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

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

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354. How to Be Creative

Oct 18th52:32

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. (Ep. 1 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

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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.

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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).

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

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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.)

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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.

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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 kneeling 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.)

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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How to Be Happy (Ep. 345)

Aug 16th37:30

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).

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Nearly two 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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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."

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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.)

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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.”

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The Invisible Paw

Apr 5th48:14

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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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Stephen Dubner's conversation with the co-founder and longtime co-C.E.O. of the Carlyle Group, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.” (http://freakonomics.com/ceos).

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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.

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

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It’s Your Problem Now

Feb 8th44:00

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.")

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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 MIT; and our resident economist -- to tell you what to watch for, whether you're a football fanatic or a total newbie.

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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")

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How to Become a C.E.O.

Jan 25th44:16

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.")

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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?

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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?

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Trust Me (Rebroadcast)

Dec 28th, 201729:57

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?

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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.

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In this live episode of "Tell Me Something I Don't Know," you'll learn about carcass balancing, teen sleeping, and brand naming. Joining Stephen J. Dubner as co-host is Alex Wagner (CBS This Morning Saturday); author A.J. Jacobs (It's All Relative) is the live fact-checker.

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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?

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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.

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

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

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Stephen J. Dubner hosts an episode full of the world’s most renowned behavior change experts, including Colin Camerer, Ayelet Fishbach, David Laibson, Max Bazerman, Katy Milkman, and Kevin Volpp. Angela Duckworth (psychologist and author of Grit) is our special guest co-host, with Mike Maughan (head of global insights at Qualtrics) as real-time fact-checker.

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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.

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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?

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How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world. Help us meet the Freakonomics Radio listener challenge. If 500 of you become sustaining members at just $7/month before June 30th we'll unlock an additional $25,000 from the Tow Foundation. Freakonomics.com/donate

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Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO 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.

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Steve Levitt, Scott Turow and Bridget Gainer are panelists. For the "Freakonomics" co-author, the attorney and novelist, and the Cook County commissioner it's "game on!" as they tackle competition of all kinds: athletic, sexual, geopolitical, and the little-known battle between butter and margarine that landed in the Supreme Court. WBEZ's Tricia Bobeda, co-host of the "Nerdette" podcast, is fact-checker.

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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. Help us meet the Freakonomics Radio listener challenge. If 500 of you become sustaining members at just $7/month before June 30th we'll unlock an additional $25,000 from the Tow Foundation. Become a member now!

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Nearly two 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?

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Hoopers! Hoopers! Hoopers!

May 18th, 201739:21

As CEO 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.

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Big Returns from Thinking Small

Mar 30th, 201730:44

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.

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Hear live journalism wrapped in a game show package and hosted by Stephen J. Dubner. In this episode, Tim Ferriss, Eugene Mirman and Anne Pasternak are panelists. The self-help guru, the comedian and the Brooklyn Museum director talk about brainwaves, sugar, stars and — thanks to fact-checker AJ Jacobs — barf bags.

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How Safe Is Your Job? (Rebroadcast)

Mar 23rd, 201733:17

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

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Why Is My Life So Hard?

Mar 16th, 201730:29

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?

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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?

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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?

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Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal

Feb 16th, 201737:04

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.

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We assembled a panel of smart dudes -- a two-time Super Bowl champ; a couple of NFL linemen, including one who's getting a math Ph.D. at MIT; and our resident economist -- to tell you what to watch for, whether you're a football fanatic or a total newbie.

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Did China Eat America’s Jobs?

Jan 26th, 201738:21

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?

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Is the American Dream Really Dead?

Jan 19th, 201739:26

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?

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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.

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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.

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How to Make a Bad Decision

Nov 17th, 201635:41

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.

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"Tell Me Something I Don't Know" is a live game show hosted by Stephen J. Dubner of "Freakonomics Radio." He has always had a mission: to tell you the things you thought you knew but didn't, and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do. Now, with "TMSIDK," he has a new way of doing just that. This new show is still journalism, still factual -- but disguised in the most entertaining, unexpected, and occasionally ridiculous conversation you're likely to hear. Audience contestants come on stage and try to wow a panel of experts with a fascinating fact, a historical wrinkle, a new line of research -- anything, really, as long as it's interesting, useful and true (or at least true-ish). The panel -- an ever-changing mix of comedians, brainiacs, and other high achievers -- poke and prod the contestants, and ultimately choose a winner. And there's a real-time, human fact-checker on hand to filter out the bull. This debut episode features Barnard College president Debora Spar, New York Public Library president Tony Marx, and comedian Andy Zaltzman; Jody Avirgan from FiveThirtyEight handles the fact-checking. You can subscribe now on iTunes. And don't worry, Freakonomics Radio isn't going anywhere -- this is just a special bonus episode of Dubner's new side gig.

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Trust Me

Nov 10th, 201627:42

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?

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The U.S. president is often called the "leader of 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.

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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.

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In Praise of Incrementalism

Oct 27th, 201648:29

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.

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In Praise of Maintenance

Oct 20th, 201641:41

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

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This Is Your Brain on Podcasts

Oct 13th, 201645:19

Neuroscientists still have a great deal to learn about the human brain. One recent MRI study sheds some light, finding 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. Show your support for Freakonomics Radio and all the great podcasts from WNYC Studios with a donation today. Just click here to give: http://bit.ly/2e85l3U

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

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Why Are We Still Using Cash?

Sep 29th, 201642:59

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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What Are You Waiting For?

Aug 11th, 201634:53

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?

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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?

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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?

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What Are Gender Barriers Made Of?

Jul 21st, 201636:29

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?

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Is the Internet Being Ruined?

Jul 14th, 201647:54

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?

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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?

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The Suicide Paradox (Rebroadcast)

Jun 30th, 201657:22

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.

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The U.S. president is often called the "leader of 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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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The Longest Long Shot

May 26th, 201642:59

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.

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How to Be Tim Ferriss

May 19th, 201641:28

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.

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How to Win Games and Beat People

May 12th, 201652:26

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.

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How to Get More Grit in Your Life

May 5th, 201644:25

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.

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"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.

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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.

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How to Be More Productive

Apr 21st, 201638:34

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.

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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.

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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?

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

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

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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?

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The No-Tipping Point

Mar 11th, 201643:14

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.

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The United States of Cory Booker

Mar 3rd, 201639:18

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?

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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? Here are a few reasons.

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How Can This Possibly Be True?

Feb 18th, 201640:49

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?

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Who Needs Handwriting?

Feb 11th, 201639:33

The digital age is making pen and paper seem obsolete. But what are we giving up if we give up on handwriting?

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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.

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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?

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Do Boycotts Work?

Jan 21st, 201637:23

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?

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Is Migration a Basic Human Right?

Dec 17th, 20151:00:53

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

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The Cheeseburger Diet

Dec 10th, 201532:04

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

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

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

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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.

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Should Everyone Be in a Rock Band?

Nov 12th, 201545:28

Lessons from Tom Petty's rise and another rocker's fall.

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Food + Science = Victory!

Nov 5th, 201538:20

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.

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Am I Boring You?

Oct 29th, 201539:29

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?

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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?

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How To Win A Nobel Prize

Oct 15th, 201545:27

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

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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?

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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.

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How Did the Belt Win?

Sep 24th, 201530:56

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?

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

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

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

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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?

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How to Make a Smart TV Ad

Aug 20th, 201530:35

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

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The Dangers of Safety (Rebroadcast)

Aug 13th, 201530:57

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

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Why Do We Really Follow the News?

Aug 6th, 201535:51

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?

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How to Create Suspense

Jul 30th, 201539:21

Why is soccer the best sport? How has Harlan Coben sold 70 million books? And why does "Apollo 13" keep you enthralled even when you know the ending?

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

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The Economics of Sleep, Part 2

Jul 16th, 201543:25

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

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The Economics of Sleep, Part 1

Jul 9th, 201544:56

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

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A Better Way to Eat (Rebroadcast)

Jul 2nd, 201528:04

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

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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?

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Make Me a Match

Jun 18th, 201550:23

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.

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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.

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

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

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

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Ten Years of Freakonomics

May 14th, 201546:02

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.

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Zappos CEO 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.

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Think Like a Child (Rebroadcast)

Apr 30th, 201529:44

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Perfect Crime (Rebroadcast)

Mar 26th, 201529:35

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

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

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When Willpower Isn’t Enough

Mar 12th, 201533:11

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

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This Idea Must Die

Mar 5th, 201554:33

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?

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The Maddest Men of All

Feb 26th, 201532:56

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

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Hacking the World Bank

Feb 19th, 201536:33

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

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

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

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How Safe Is Your Job?

Jan 29th, 201533:38

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

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Someone Else’s Acid Trip

Jan 22nd, 201529:15

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

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That’s a Great Question!

Jan 15th, 201525:24

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.

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

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

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

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Time to Take Back the Toilet

Dec 18th, 201434:48

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

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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?

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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.

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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?

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The Man Who Would Be Everything

Nov 20th, 201427:45

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

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Why Do People Keep Having Children?

Nov 13th, 201438:33

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

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

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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.

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“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”

Oct 23rd, 20141:02:29

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

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

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The science of what works -- and doesn't work -- in fund-raising

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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.

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Fitness Apartheid

Sep 25th, 201430:42

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

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Outsiders by Design

Sep 18th, 201440:26

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

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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?

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Regulate This!

Sep 4th, 201456:13

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.

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

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Parking Is Hell (Rebroadcast)

Aug 21st, 201435:08

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

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

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It's awkward, random, confusing -- and probably discriminatory too.

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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?

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Does Religion Make You Happy?

Jul 24th, 201428:36

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

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Why You Should Bribe Your Kids

Jul 17th, 201427:33

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

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

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A Better Way to Eat

Jul 3rd, 201426:04

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

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

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

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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?

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Failure Is Your Friend

Jun 5th, 201431:03

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

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

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Think Like a Child

May 22nd, 201428:15

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

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

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

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The Perfect Crime

May 1st, 201428:28

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

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

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

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“If Mayors Ruled the World”

Apr 10th, 201431:06

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

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How to Make People Quit Smoking

Apr 3rd, 201432:37

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

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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.

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Women Are Not Men (Rebroadcast)

Mar 20th, 201437:29

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

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“It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana”

Mar 13th, 201422:51

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.

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

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Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?

Feb 27th, 201423:17

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

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Why Marry? (Part 2)

Feb 20th, 201423:27

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

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Why Marry? (Part 1)

Feb 13th, 201419:31

The myths of modern marriage.

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Thick markets, thin markets, and the triumph of attributes over compatibility. This episode is included in the Freakonomics #smartbinge podcast playlist at wnyc.org/smartbinge

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Reasons to Not Be Ugly

Jan 30th, 201425:19

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

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The benefits of rumor-mongering

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Fear Thy Nature (Rebroadcast)

Jan 16th, 201437:13

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

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

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What’s the “Best” Exercise?

Jan 2nd, 201415:01

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

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Save Me From Myself (Rebroadcast)

Dec 26th, 201335:58

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

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The Pope just gave it to the global economy with both barrels. Was he right to do so?

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Are Gay Men Really Rich?

Dec 12th, 201319:44

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

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The Most Dangerous Machine

Dec 5th, 201331:38

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

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

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

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Who Runs the Internet?

Nov 14th, 201332:18

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

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

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What's a college degree really worth these days?

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

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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?

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The science of what works -- and doesn't work -- in fund-raising

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

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

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

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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?

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The Suicide Paradox (Rebroadcast)

Sep 5th, 201356:57

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.

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

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