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Freakonomics Radio

Author: Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher

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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. The entire archive, going back to 2010, is available on the Stitcher podcast app and at freakonomics.com.
33 Episodes
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Google and Facebook are worth a combined $2 trillion, with the vast majority of their revenue coming from advertising. In our previous episode, we learned that TV advertising is much less effective than the industry says. Is digital any better? Some say yes, some say no — and some say we’re in a full-blown digital-ad bubble.
Companies around the world spend more than half-a-trillion dollars each year on ads. The ad industry swears by its efficacy — but a massive new study tells a different story.
The modern world overwhelms us with sounds we didn’t ask for, like car alarms and cell-phone “halfalogues.” What does all this noise cost us in terms of productivity, health, and basic sanity?
John Mackey, the C.E.O. of Whole Foods, has learned the perils of speaking his mind. But he still says what he thinks about everything from “conscious leadership” to the behavioral roots of the obesity epidemic. He also argues for a style of capitalism and politics that at this moment seems like a fantasy. What does he know that we don’t?
The sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh spent years studying crack dealers, sex workers, and the offspring of billionaires. Then he wandered into an even stranger world: social media. He spent the past five years at Facebook and Twitter. Now that he’s back in the real world, he’s here to tell us how the digital universe really works. In this pilot episode of a new podcast, Venkatesh interviews the progressive political operative Tara McGowan about her digital successes with the Obama campaign, her noisy failure with the Iowa caucus app, and why the best way for Democrats to win more elections was to copy the Republicans.
A fine reading of most policies for “business interruption” reveals that viral outbreaks aren’t covered. Some legislators are demanding that insurance firms pay up anyway. Is it time to rethink insurance entirely?
As beloved and familiar as they are, we rarely stop to consider life from the dog’s point of view. That stops now. In this latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, we discuss Inside of a Dog with the cognitive scientist (and dog devotee) Alexandra Horowitz.
It isn’t just supply and demand. We look at the complicated history and skewed incentives that make “affordable housing” more punch line than reality in cities from New York and San Francisco to Flint, Michigan (!).
The pandemic has hit America's biggest city particularly hard. Amidst a deep fiscal hole, rising homicides, and a flight to the suburbs, some people think the city is heading back to the bad old 1970s. We look at the history — and the data — to see why that’s probably not the case.
It was only in his late twenties that America’s favorite brainiac began to seriously embrace his love of trivia. Now he holds the “Greatest of All Time” title on Jeopardy! Steve Levitt digs into how he trained for the show, what it means to have a "geographic memory," and why we lie to our children.
Three leading researchers from the Mount Sinai Health System discuss how ketamine, cannabis, and ecstasy are being used (or studied) to treat everything from severe depression to addiction to PTSD. We discuss the upsides, downsides, and regulatory puzzles.
The families of U.S. troops killed and wounded in Afghanistan are suing several companies that did reconstruction there. Why? These companies, they say, paid the Taliban protection money, which gave them the funding — and opportunity — to attack U.S. soldiers instead. A look at the messy, complicated, and heart-breaking tradeoffs of conflict-zone economies.
The dean of Yale’s School of Management grew up in a small village in Guyana. During his unlikely journey, he has researched video-gaming habits, communicable disease, and why so many African-Americans haven’t had the kind of success he’s had. Steve Levitt talks to Charles about his parents’ encouragement, his love of Sports Illustrated, and how he talks to his American-born kids about the complicated history of Blackness in America.
Trump says it would destroy us. Biden needs the voters who support it (especially the Bernie voters). The majority of millennials would like it to replace capitalism. But what is “it”? We bring in the economists to sort things out and tell us what the U.S. can learn from the good (and bad) experiences of other (supposedly) socialist countries.
Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings came to believe that corporate rules can kill creativity and innovation. In this latest edition of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Maria Konnikova talks to Hastings about his new book, No Rules Rules, and why for some companies the greatest risk is taking no risks at all.
Thanks to daily Covid testing and regimented protocols, the new football season is underway. Meanwhile, most teachers, students, and parents are essentially waiting for the storm to pass. And school isn’t even a contact sport (usually).
She’s best known for playing neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, but the award-winning actress has a rich life outside of her acting career, as a teacher, mother — and a real-life neuroscientist.  Steve Levitt tries to learn more about this one-time academic and Hollywood non-conformist, who is both very similar to him and also quite his opposite.
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?
We explore the science, scalability, and (of course) economics surrounding the global vaccine race. Guests include the chief medical officer of the first U.S. firm to go to Phase 3 trials with a vaccine candidate; a former F.D.A. commissioner who’s been warning of a pandemic for years; and an economist who thinks Covid-19 may finally change how diseases are cured.
A new interview show with host Steve Levitt. Today he speaks with the Harvard psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker. By cataloging the steady march of human progress, the self-declared “polite Canadian” has managed to enrage people on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Levitt tries to understand why.
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Comments (504)

BC

The reason why ads don't work on me is because I don't have money.

Nov 28th
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Vera

Funniest show ever.

Nov 26th
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Clinton Knight

Been saying for a while, people are sick of being sold to. All the consumer needs is that a product exists to fill a need. Brands and products have been around long enough that consumers are "solutions" aware. Meaning the average consumer aren't needing to know who exists on the shelf, because they already know something will be on the shelf to do that thing.

Nov 21st
Reply

Heftybags

Advertising certainly doesn't work on here. Soon as they start before the first syllable skip skip skip until it's over.

Nov 21st
Reply (1)

Stuart Morgan

Always wondered about this. 90% seems like an advertising arms race where they spend/waste money because the competitor is doing it.

Nov 19th
Reply

zq

Considering the demographics of the avg Whole Foods shopper, I'm surprised this is the CEO.

Nov 12th
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Shiva Lakshmanan

#peoplehack The place were you deconstruct ideas, 5houghts and biases. we are all fallible!

Nov 11th
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Erin Nelson

What a jackass.

Nov 9th
Reply (1)

Rory Simpson

Hi, another white guy here to laymansplain to you journalism professionals that the Je... left wing controls the media. Well I'm off to block suburban traffic riding my recumbent bike to whole foods while listening to Ben Shapiro on my airpods, bye!

Nov 6th
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Brian Burchett

Another left leaning guest. I like A lot of the content from this podcast, but you can definitely tell where they lean politically. What is she talking about with all of the right leaning Facebook groups? does she not realize 80+% of the media is essentially owned by the left? They've been putting out lies and falsehoods for the past four years

Nov 5th
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Vera

intelligent and eye-opening discussion. It is vital to understand how things work, so thank you for this.

Nov 2nd
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Stuart Morgan

right wing media has larger individual following on Facebook because the there are so many left wing sources, so the followers are split. this person is lying with statistics otherwise she would present the raw total follows for right and left wing media.

Nov 2nd
Reply (1)

Stuart Morgan

She lists the right having all this media like fox news. Um sweetie have you heard of cnn, msnbc, new you times etc.

Nov 2nd
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Patrick Hendry

what is the name of the new podcast?

Nov 1st
Reply

Tamara Marie

"Marine insurance" underwriting cargo ships in the late 1600s - 1700s? That was HUMAN cargo. I can't believe you let him get away with making insuring enslaved Africans seem benign.

Oct 30th
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zq

Did she say daschund is the most aggressive dog?

Oct 23rd
Reply

BC

Interesting episode! I learned a lot about dogs.

Oct 23rd
Reply

Sir NelsonG

people on the left are blocking affordable housing . Really

Oct 16th
Reply

Joy Zaher

I love this podcast but I am so tired of all these other podcasts being "test run" on Freakonomics. I have to try 6 times to get one episode of ACTUAL Freakonomics.

Oct 4th
Reply

Stuart Morgan

For a program that cares about facts it's not very accurate to describe Floyd as being murdered. Maybe he was, maybe he died of the drug overdose, maybe it was manslaughter but we still don't know this.

Sep 22nd
Reply (4)
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