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Freakonomics Radio

Author: Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher

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Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner uncovers the hidden side of everything. Why is it safer to fly in an airplane than drive a car? How do we decide whom to marry? Why is the media so full of bad news? Also: things you never knew you wanted to know about wolves, bananas, pollution, search engines, and the quirks of human behavior.
699 Episodes
Gun control, abortion rights, drug legalization — it seems like every argument these days claims that if X happens, then Y will follow, and we’ll all be doomed to Z. Is the slippery-slope argument a valid logical construction or just a game of feelingsball?
He turned a small Hollywood talent agency into a massive sports-and-entertainment empire. In a freewheeling conversation, he explains how he did it and why it nearly killed him.
Sure, markets work well in general. 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. Plus: We hear from a listener who, inspired by this episode, made a remarkable decision.
Museums are purging their collections of looted treasures. Can they also get something in return? And what does it mean to be a museum in the 21st century? (Part 3 of “Stealing Art Is Easy. Giving It Back Is Hard.”)
The world’s great museums are full of art and artifacts that were plundered during an era when plunder was the norm. Now there’s a push to return these works to their rightful owners. Sounds simple, right? It's not. (Part 2 of “Stealing Art Is Easy. Giving It Back Is Hard.”)
How did a freshly looted Egyptian antiquity end up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Why did it take Kim Kardashian to crack the case? And how much of what you see in any museum is stolen? (Part 1 of “Stealing Art Is Easy. Giving It Back Is Hard.”)
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. 
Every language has its taboo words (which many people use all the time). But the list of forbidden words is always changing — and those changes tell us some surprising things about ourselves. Note: The swear words in this episode have been bleeped out. To hear a version of this episode without the bleeps, go to
Delaware is beloved by corporations, bankruptcy lawyers, tax avoiders, and money launderers. Critics say the Delaware “franchise” is undemocratic and corrupt. Insiders say it’s wildly efficient. We say: they’re both right.
Many companies say they want to create more opportunities for Black Americans. One company is doing something concrete about it. We visit the South Side of Chicago to see how it’s working out.
Every year, Americans short the I.R.S. nearly half a trillion dollars. Most ideas to increase compliance are more stick than carrot — scary letters, audits, and penalties. But what if we gave taxpayers a chance to allocate how their money is spent, or even bribed them with a thank-you gift?
In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, the economist Amy Finkelstein explains why insurance markets are broken and how to fix them. Also: why can’t you buy divorce insurance?
People who are good at their jobs routinely get promoted into bigger jobs they’re bad at. We explain why firms keep producing incompetent managers — and why that’s unlikely to change.
Most travelers want the cheapest flight they can find. Airlines, meanwhile, need to manage volatile fuel costs, a pricey workforce, and complex logistics. So how do they make money — and how did America’s grubbiest airport suddenly turn into a palace? (Part 3 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)
Thanks to decades of work by airlines and regulators, plane crashes are nearly a thing of the past. Can we do the same for cars? (Part 2 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”)
It’s an unnatural activity that has become normal. You’re stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of strangers (and strange smells), defying gravity and racing through the sky.  But oh, the places you’ll go! We visit the world’s busiest airport to see how it all comes together. (Part 1 of “Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies.”) 
Adam Smith famously argued that specialization is the key to prosperity. In the N.F.L., the long snapper is proof of that argument. Here’s everything there is to know about a job that didn’t used to exist.
Hotel guests adore those cute little soaps, but is it just a one-night stand? In our fourth episode of The Economics of Everyday Things, Zachary Crockett discovers what happens to those soaps when we love ’em and leave ’em.
For decades, the U.S. let globalization run its course and hoped China would be an ally. Now the Biden administration is spending billions to bring high-tech manufacturing back home. Is this the beginning of a new industrial policy — or just another round of corporate welfare?
Can a hit single from four decades ago still pay the bills? Zachary Crockett f-f-f-finds out in the third episode of our newest podcast, The Economics of Everyday Things. 
Comments (673)

mahan myr

How can I find the transcript of this episode?

Jun 6th

Joe A. Finley II

Cost overruns?! We spent $250B/yr on the military in the 1990s; we now spend nearly $800B/yr. So there's that. Make green infrastructure, not war.

May 19th

John Caulfield

Fascinating episode as ever. It made me think, which is always a good thing, Maybe col Bogdanos should take 5 minutes to do the same thing though. Whenever anybody talking about an obviously complex subject says it's simple my hackles rise. If defining something as stolen and returning it really is as simple as he suggests then any American with non native American heritage, such as the colonel, had better find somewhere else to live. So no, defining theft and ownership of ancient artifacts isn't simple and he does the subject matter a disservice by insisting it is.

May 17th

payam kohan

as an iranian, i'd rather not receive them unless the regime changes! they are even selling and renting our historical monuments! 😢

May 13th

Joe A. Finley II

John sounds and talks like the real-life embodiment of Tom Dubois from "Boondocks."

May 4th

Jessie Adams

You'd think an episode specifically on swearing wouldn't bleep the words out...

May 1st

Teresa Ellis

I, as a full grown woman, appreciate when words are bleeped out. Curse words give me a strong negative feeling. They talk about a strong physiological response when people curse? I get it on the receiving end. I can do that ice water challenge just fine with my own inoffensive words. They are in order of strength: rats, stinking rats, stupid and, the strongest of all, big fat, stinking rats. Though, when I am in a bad mood, EVERYTHING is stupid. NOT people though, never people. Just objects and situations. I just describe them as "people who are making poor choices or frustrating choices." I have put up with people swearing around me, but if I can, and have, asked that they don't do it around me.

Apr 20th

Monique Rogers

I've been listening to you for awhile now but this episode is a perfect example of platforming someone who works in service of the most destructive and exploitative aspects of capitalism. Not here for it.

Apr 13th
Reply (4)

Paula Sun

btw I always take the soap I used with me. they last me years.

Mar 14th
Reply (2)

Paula Sun

I thought this episode was a retold story of a hotel soap rebrand I read before. but this one is so much more, not only these soaps have their lives renewed , they also have a more meaningful life to save lives. I had a pretty stressful and depressing day, but listening to this story, with this guy's hopeful exciting voice, I feel uplifted and happy. thank you!

Mar 14th

Sharad Patel

Pretty basic information that most of us know already

Mar 11th

Jen Schang

One aspect of this story that was missed is the attempts to unionize after the private equity takeover of hospitals. There is absolutely a reason the staff of hospitals taken over by private equity have attempted to regain some power by unionizing.Take a look at what has happened in the Pacific Northwest, specifically in Seattle and Portland. Hospitals have actually been ruined and even destroyed by private equity acquisition due to the poor treatment of staff by new management.

Mar 5th

Barry Raymond

Dickens was correct in Great Expectations!

Mar 2nd

Mike Weiss

This podcast is a thinly veiled boomer corporate apologist-fest. CaPiTaLiSM sOlVeS evERyThiNg!

Feb 27th

Joe A. Finley II

Although "Flagpole Sitta" was Harvey Danger's only ORIGINAL hit, it's arguable that "Save it for Later" was an EXCELLENT cover that got nearly as much airplay in the late-1990s/early-2000s club and frat party scene. This brings up an interesting issue: can a well-done cover of a hit song ALSO be a hit? This is pretty arguable in the affirmative when you look at Marvin Gaye's and CCR's "Heard it Through the Grapevine." On the flip side of the proverbial cassette tape is this propensity to call EVERYTHING from "hit makers" like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé a "hit" "just because." Quality over quantity

Feb 11th

niloofar sah


Feb 10th

Moshe Wise

The US already tried prohibiting alcohol and found it a counterproductive policy.

Feb 3rd

Kim Hawko Vitiello

there is not a single industry that private equity firms are not determined to use to squeeze as many pennies out of the other 99% as possible.

Jan 30th

The Derstine

sad to hear such audio pollution (adverts) at 10 decibels louder than podcast 😰🫤 really annoying

Jan 27th

niloofar sah

👊🏽❤️👏🏽enjoyed it lot! she's so genuine and I loved it!

Jan 19th
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