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Freakonomics Radio

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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.
583 Episodes
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The man who wants America to “think harder” has parlayed his quixotic presidential campaign into front-runner status in New York’s mayoral election. And he has some big plans.
It’s true that robots (and other smart technologies) will kill many jobs. It may also be true that newer collaborative robots (“cobots”) will totally reinvigorate how work gets done. That, at least, is what the economists are telling us. Should we believe them?
Backers of a $15 federal wage say it’s a no-brainer if you want to fight poverty. Critics say it’s a blunt instrument that leads to job loss. Even the economists can’t agree! We talk to a bunch of them — and a U.S. Senator — to sort it out, and learn there’s a much bigger problem to worry about.
The state-by-state rollout of legalized weed has given economists a perfect natural experiment to measure its effects. Here’s what we know so far — and don’t know — about the costs and benefits of legalization.
In this special crossover episode, People I (Mostly) Admire host Steve Levitt admits to No Stupid Questions co-host Angela Duckworth that he knows almost nothing about psychology. But once Angela gives Steve a quick tutorial on “goal conflict,” he is suddenly a fan. They also talk parenting, self-esteem, and how easy it is to learn econometrics if you feel like it.
Kidney failure is such a catastrophic (and expensive) disease that Medicare covers treatment for anyone, regardless of age. Since Medicare reimbursement rates are fairly low, the dialysis industry had to find a way to tweak the system if they wanted to make big profits. They succeeded.
Medicine has evolved from a calling into an industry, adept at dispensing procedures and pills (and gigantic bills), but less good at actual health. Most reformers call for big, bold action. What happens if, instead, you think small?
Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code?
In a word: networks. Once it embraced information as its main currency, New York was able to climb out of a deep fiscal (and psychic) pit. Will that magic trick still work after Covid? In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Kurt Andersen interviews Thomas Dyja, author of New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation.
Behavioral scientists have been exploring if — and when — a psychological reset can lead to lasting change. We survey evidence from the London Underground, Major League Baseball, and New Year’s resolutions; we look at accidental fresh starts, forced fresh starts, and fresh starts that backfire. And we wonder: will the pandemic’s end provide the biggest fresh start ever?
Americans are so accustomed to the standard intersection that we rarely consider how dangerous it can be — as well as costly, time-wasting, and polluting. Is it time to embrace the lowly, lovely roundabout?
New York Times columnist Charles Blow argues that white supremacy in America will never fully recede, and that it’s time for Black people to do something radical about it. In The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto, he urges a “reverse migration” to the South to consolidate political power and create a region where it’s safe to be Black. (This is an episode of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.)
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?
Not so long ago, G.E. was the most valuable company in the world, a conglomerate that included everything from light bulbs and jet engines to financial services and The Apprentice. Now it’s selling off body parts to survive. What does the C.E.O. who presided over the decline have to say for himself?
Most of us are are afraid to ask sensitive questions about money, sex, politics, etc. New research shows this fear is largely unfounded. Time for some interesting conversations!
Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who would like to put herself out of business. Our corporate funeral industry, she argues, has made us forget how to offer our loved ones an authentic sendoff. Doughty is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, she is interviewed by guest host Maria Konnikova.
For all the progress made in fighting cancer, it still kills 10 million people a year, and some types remain especially hard to detect and treat. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, is nearly always fatal. A new clinical-trial platform could change that by aligning institutions that typically compete against one another.
It’s a powerful biological response that has preserved our species for millennia. But now it may be keeping us from pursuing strategies that would improve the environment, the economy, even our own health. So is it time to dial down our disgust reflex?  You can help fix things — as Stephen Dubner does in this episode — by chowing down on some delicious insects.
They can’t vote or hire lobbyists. The policies we create to help them aren’t always so helpful. Consider the car seat: parents hate it, the safety data are unconvincing, and new evidence suggests an unintended consequence that is as anti-child as it gets.
We’ve collected some of our favorite moments from People I (Mostly) Admire, the latest show from the Freakonomics Radio Network. Host Steve Levitt seeks advice from scientists and inventors, memory wizards and basketball champions — even his fellow economists. He also asks about quitting, witch trials, and whether we need a Manhattan Project for climate change.
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Comments (533)

BC

oh hey I'm working on something like this

May 15th
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km

We Want Yang! :-)

May 7th
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Dean Keith

I use to be a farmer for years. I know that i never fed any cattle chicken shit. Crushed corn is not chicken shit. This episode is kinda just nonsense when they bring people to the table that don't know anything about the topic.

May 2nd
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Stuart Morgan

The only prescription I've heard from him is reparations, the rest of the time he is only taking about power and white supremacy. Look for something everywhere through a race obsessed lens and of course you will find it. Reminds me of Sam Harris finding God in a cooking book.

Apr 18th
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Erin Nelson

the 3rd party with self insured is ...... health insurance companies lmao

Apr 8th
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Aniruddha Joi

was there a 15min commercial for Lenovo in the middle? the hell was that ? lol

Apr 4th
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Jarod Rollins

Please do an episode about why there are so many female teachers, so few male teachers and if recruiting more men is worthwhile and why. Thanks.

Mar 30th
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Sepehr Tbr

It was awesome 👍👍 good job

Mar 29th
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ID8131011

dr. oz??

Mar 28th
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ID8131011

i love roundabouts. I'm cool with them being everywhere.

Mar 28th
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Bill Clark

Hate roundabouts. They're a menace to pedestrians, especially the elderly and disabled. They have to walk farther and you have no confidence that cars will stop for you.

Mar 22nd
Reply (1)

Nicholas

wow this was a great episode super interesting and a different perspective I haven't heard of you keep up the great work. might have to read his book and share it

Mar 20th
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Brian Burchett

Wow, the racism is very strong in this one!! He's going off of Obama's playbook and trying to set race relations back another 20 years. Didn't expect much different from the left leaning show

Mar 8th
Reply (4)

Phillip Luebke

I was very interested to hear what Charles had to say but that drum interlude used throughout the episode was very distracting.

Mar 4th
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marry rahmani

I’m back loging on episodes but wow ! Really love to hear more of this kind of episodes. I am also definitely going to read the book.

Jan 26th
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David Sheerin

this is mistitled....should be called "how much do we care about having more kids."

Jan 17th
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km

But, AI/singularity.

Jan 16th
Reply

BC

Okay the petsmart ad is actually useful.

Jan 5th
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Shawn Ramirez

I imagine the hosts would find it comforting to think that - as a society, we are actually driving ourselves off of a cliff like some teenagers might be so prone to, only it is a climate or fiscal cliff instead of an actual one.

Dec 27th
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Kyle Smith

This is horrifically biased and clearly partisan from a definitively left wing source. I enjoy this podcast because avoids lopsided BS like this. the fact the interviewee in this episode pretends like nearly ALL media is left wing biased and spreads as much or more fals information as Fox does is appalling. I notice they also conveniently left out misinformation from NPR too.

Dec 26th
Reply
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