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Freakonomics Radio

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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. Join the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program for weekly member-only episodes of Freakonomics Radio. You’ll also get every show in our network without a ...
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From the podcast that explores the hidden side of everything, hear authors like you’ve never heard them before. Stephen Dubner and a stable of Freakonomics friends talk with the writers of mind-bending books, and we hear the best excerpts as well. You’ll learn about skill versus chance, the American discomfort with death, the secret life of dogs, and much more. Join the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program for weekly member-only episodes of Freakonomics Radio. You’ll also get every sho ...
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The psychologist Daniel Kahneman — a Nobel laureate and the author of Thinking, Fast and Slow — recently died at age 90. Along with his collaborator Amos Tversky, he changed how we all think about decision-making. The journalist Michael Lewis told the Kahneman-Tversky story in a 2016 book called The Undoing Project. In this episode, Lewis explains …
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Nobel laureate, bestselling author, and groundbreaking psychologist Daniel Kahneman died in March. In 2021 he talked with Steve Levitt — his friend and former business partner — about his book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment (cowritten with Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein) and much more. SOURCES: Daniel Kahneman, professor emeritus of psychology a…
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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. SOURCES: Nick Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University. Katie Johnson, freelance data and analytics coach. Kelly Shue, professor of finance at the Yale Un…
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Fareed Zakaria says yes. But it’s not just political revolution — it’s economic, technological, even emotional. He doesn’t offer easy solutions but he does offer some hope. SOURCES: Fareed Zakaria, journalist and author. RESOURCES: Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash from 1600 to the Present, by Fareed Zakaria (2024). "The Ultimate Election Y…
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Fareed Zakaria says yes. But it’s not just political revolution — it’s economic, technological, even emotional. He doesn’t offer easy solutions but he does offer some hope. SOURCES: Fareed Zakaria, journalist and author. RESOURCES: Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash from 1600 to the Present, by Fareed Zakaria (2024). "The Ultimate Election Y…
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The political debates over immigration can generate a lot of fuzzy facts. We wanted to test Americans’ knowledge — so, to wrap up our special series on immigration, we called some Freakonomics Radio listeners and quizzed them. SOURCES: Zeke Hernandez, professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. RESOURCES: The Truth About Immi…
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As the U.S. tries to fix its messy immigration system, our neighbor to the north is scooping up more talented newcomers every year. Are the Canadians stealing America’s bacon? (Part three of a three-part series.) SOURCES: Zeke Hernandez, professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. William Kerr, professor of business administr…
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The U.S. immigration system is a massively complicated machine, with a lot of worn-out parts. How to fix it? Step one: Get hold of some actual facts and evidence. (We did this step for you.) (Part two of a three-part series.) SOURCES: Zeke Hernandez, professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. David Leonhardt, senior writer a…
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She arrived in the U.S. as an 11-year-old refugee, then rose to become Secretary of State. Her views on immigration, nationalism, and borders, from this 2015 interview, are almost strangely appropriate to the present moment. SOURCE: Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nat…
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How did a nation of immigrants come to hate immigration? We start at the beginning, sort through the evidence, and explain why your grandfather was lying about Ellis Island. (Part one of a three-part series.) SOURCES: Leah Boustan, professor of economics at Princeton University. Zeke Hernandez, professor at the Wharton School at the University of P…
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Economists have discovered an odd phenomenon: many people who use social media (even you, maybe?) wish it didn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean they can escape. SOURCES: Leonardo Bursztyn, professor of economics at the University of Chicago. Benjamin Handel, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. RESOURCES: "When Product Ma…
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In ancient Rome, it was bread and circuses. Today, it’s a World Cup, an Olympics, and a new Saudi-backed golf league that’s challenging the PGA Tour. Can a sporting event really repair a country’s reputation — or will it trigger the dreaded Streisand Effect? Also: why the major U.S. sports leagues are warming up to the idea of foreign investment. S…
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What surprises lurk in our sewage? How did racist city planners end up saving Black lives? Why does Arizona grow hay for cows in Saudi Arabia? Three strange stories about the most fundamental substance we all take for granted. SOURCES: Brian Beach, professor of economics at Vanderbilt University. Marc Johnson, professor of molecular microbiology an…
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It used to feel like magic. Now it can feel like a set of cheap tricks. Is the problem with Google — or with us? And is Google Search finally facing a real rival, in the form of A.I.-powered “answer engines”? SOURCES: Marissa Mayer, co-founder of Sunshine; former C.E.O. of Yahoo! and vice president at Google. Ryan McDevitt; professor of economics a…
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A wide-open conversation with three women who guided Richard Feynman through some big adventures at the Esalen Institute. (Part of our Feynman series.) SOURCES: Barbara Berg, friend of Richard Feynman. Cheryl Haley, friend of Richard Feynman. Debby Harlow, friend of Richard Feynma Sam Stern, content creator at the Esalen Institute. EXTRAS: Richard …
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In his final years, Richard Feynman's curiosity took him to some surprising places. We hear from his companions on the trips he took — and one he wasn’t able to. (Part three of a three-part series.) SOURCES: Alan Alda, actor and screenwriter. Barbara Berg, friend of Richard Feynman. Helen Czerski, physicist and oceanographer at University College L…
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What happens when an existentially depressed and recently widowed young physicist from Queens gets a fresh start in California? We follow Richard Feynman out west, to explore his long and extremely fruitful second act. (Part two of a three-part series.) SOURCES: Seamus Blackley, video game designer and creator of the Xbox. Carl Feynman, computer sc…
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They’re heading to the Super Bowl for the second time in five years. But back in 2018, they were coming off a long losing streak — and that’s the year we sat down with 49ers players, coaches, and executives to hear their turnaround plans. It’s probably time to consider the turnaround a success. SOURCES: Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback for the Las Vega…
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From the Manhattan Project to the Challenger investigation, the physicist Richard Feynman loved to shoot down what he called “lousy ideas.” Today, the world is awash in lousy ideas — so maybe it’s time to get some more Feynman in our lives? (Part one of a three-part series.) SOURCES: Helen Czerski, physicist and oceanographer at University College …
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Michael Roth of Wesleyan University doesn’t hang out with other university presidents. He also thinks some of them have failed a basic test of good sense and decency. It’s time for a conversation about college, and courage. SOURCE: Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University. RESOURCES: "Opinion: College Presidents Are Supposed to Be Moral Le…
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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. SOURCES: Sharon Begley, senior science writer for Stat at The Boston Globe. Jerome Kagan, emerit…
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Probably not — the incentives are too strong. Scholarly publishing is a $28 billion global industry, with misconduct at every level. But a few reformers are gaining ground. (Part 2 of 2) SOURCES: Max Bazerman, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Leif Nelson, professor of business administration at the University of Cali…
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Some of the biggest names in behavioral science stand accused of faking their results. Last year, an astonishing 10,000 research papers were retracted. We talk to whistleblowers, reformers, and a co-author who got caught up in the chaos. (Part 1 of 2) SOURCES: Max Bazerman, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Leif Nelso…
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In a special episode of The Economics of Everyday Things, host Zachary Crockett explains what millennials do to show they care, how corrugated cardboard keeps your food warm, and why every city has a billboard for a guy who calls himself “The Hammer.” SOURCES: Jason Abraham, managing partner of Hupy & Abraham. Nora Engstrom, professor at Stanford L…
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In a special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt talks to Cat Bohannon about her new book Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution. SOURCE: Cat Bohannon, researcher and author. RESOURCES: Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution, by Cat Bohannon (2023). "Genomic Inference of a Seve…
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In a special episode of No Stupid Questions, Angela Duckworth and Mike Maughan talk about unfinished tasks, recurring arguments, and Irish goodbyes. SOURCES: Roy Baumeister, social psychologist and visiting scholar at Harvard University. Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard University. John Gottman, professor emeritus of psychology at…
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