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Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

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. 

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Episodes

462. The Future of New York City Is in Question. Could Andrew Yang Be the Answer?

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.
2021-05-13
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461. How to Stop Worrying and Love the Robot Apocalypse

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?
2021-05-06
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460. The True Story of the Minimum-Wage Fight

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.
2021-04-29
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459. Let?s Be Blunt: Marijuana Is a Boon for Older Workers

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.
2021-04-22
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458. How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy

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. 
2021-04-15
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457. Is Dialysis a Test Case of Medicare for All?

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.
2021-04-08
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456. How to Fix the Hot Mess of U.S. Healthcare

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? 
2021-04-01
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Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Ep. 405 Rebroadcast)

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?
2021-03-25
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How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself? (Bonus)

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.
2021-03-21
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455. Are You Ready for a Fresh Start?

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?
2021-03-18
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454. Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished?

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?
2021-03-11
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453. A Rescue Plan for Black America

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.)
2021-03-04
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Am I Boring You? (Ep. 225 Rebroadcast)

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?
2021-02-25
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452. Jeff Immelt Knows He Let You Down

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? 
2021-02-18
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451. Can I Ask You a Ridiculously Personal Question?

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!
2021-02-11
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450. How to Be Better at Death

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.
2021-02-04
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449. How to Fix the Incentives in Cancer Research

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.
2021-01-28
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448. The Downside of Disgust

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.
2021-01-21
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447. How Much Do We Really Care About Children?

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.
2021-01-14
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446. ?We Get All Our Great Stuff from Europe ? Including Witch Hunting.?

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. 
2021-01-07
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Trust Me (Ep. 266 Rebroadcast)

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?
2020-12-31
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445. Why Do We Seek Comfort in the Familiar?

In this episode of No Stupid Questions ? a Freakonomics Radio Network show launched earlier this year ? Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth debate why we watch, read, and eat familiar things during a crisis, and if it might in fact be better to try new things instead. Also: is a little knowledge truly as dangerous as they say? 
2020-12-24
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444. How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?

Patients in the U.S. healthcare system often feel they?re treated with a lack of empathy. Doctors and nurses have tragically high levels of burnout. Could fixing the first problem solve the second? And does the rest of society need more compassion too?
2020-12-17
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443. A Sneak Peek at Biden?s Top Economist

The incoming president argues that the economy and the environment are deeply connected. This is reflected in his choice for National Economic Council director ? Brian Deese, a climate-policy wonk and veteran of the no-drama-Obama era. But don?t mistake Deese?s lack of drama for a lack of intensity.
2020-12-10
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PLAYBACK (2015): Could the Next Brooklyn Be ... Las Vegas?!

Tony Hsieh, the longtime C.E.O. of Zappos, was an iconoclast and a dreamer. Five years ago, we sat down with him around a desert campfire to talk about those dreams. Hsieh died recently from injuries sustained in a house fire; he was 46.
2020-12-06
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442. Is it Too Late for General Motors to Go Electric?

G.M. produces more than 20 times as many cars as Tesla, but Tesla is worth nearly 10 times as much. Mary Barra, the C.E.O. of G.M., is trying to fix that. We speak with her about the race toward an electrified (and autonomous) future, China and Trump, and what it?s like to be the ?fifth-most powerful woman in the world.?
2020-12-03
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441. Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 2: Digital)

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.
2020-11-26
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440. Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 1: TV)

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.
2020-11-19
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439. Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears

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?
2020-11-12
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438. How to Succeed by Being Authentic (Hint: Carefully)

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?
2020-11-05
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Why the Left Had to Steal the Right?s Dark-Money Playbook

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.
2020-10-31
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437. Many Businesses Thought They Were Insured for a Pandemic. They Weren?t.

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?
2020-10-29
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436. Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog

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.
2020-10-22
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435. Why Are Cities (Still) So Expensive?

 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 (!).
2020-10-15
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434. Is New York City Over?

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.
2020-10-08
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?Don?t Neglect the Thing That Makes You Weird? | People I (Mostly) Admire: Ken Jennings

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.
2020-10-03
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433. How Are Psychedelics and Other Party Drugs Changing Psychiatry?

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.
2020-10-01
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432. When Your Safety Becomes My Danger

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.
2020-09-24
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?One Does Not Know Where an Insight Will Come From? | People I (Mostly) Admire: Kerwin Charles

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. 
2020-09-19
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Does Anyone Really Know What Socialism Is? (Ep. 408 Rebroadcast)

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.
2020-09-17
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What if Your Company Had No Rules?

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.
2020-09-12
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431. Why Can?t Schools Get What the N.F.L. Has?

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).
2020-09-10
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"I Started Crying When I Realized How Beautiful the Universe Is? | People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 2: Mayim Bialik

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.
2020-09-05
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America?s Hidden Duopoly (Ep. 356 Rebroadcast)

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?
2020-09-03
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430. Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research?

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.
2020-08-27
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Introducing ?People I (Mostly) Admire"

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. 
2020-08-22
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The Economics of Sports Gambling (Ep. 388 Rebroadcast)

What happens when tens of millions of fantasy-sports players are suddenly able to bet real money on real games? We?re about to find out. A recent Supreme Court decision has cleared the way to bring an estimated $300 billion in black-market sports betting into the light. We sort out the winners and losers.
2020-08-20
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429. Is Economic Growth the Wrong Goal?

The endless pursuit of G.D.P., argues the economist Kate Raworth, shortchanges too many people and also trashes the planet. Economic theory, she says, ?needs to be rewritten? ? and Raworth has tried, in a book called Doughnut Economics. It has found an audience among reformers, and now the city of Amsterdam is going whole doughnut.
2020-08-13
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How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War (Ep. 386 Rebroadcast)

Aisle upon aisle of fresh produce, cheap meat, and sugary cereal ? a delicious embodiment of free-market capitalism, right? Not quite. The supermarket was in fact the endpoint of the U.S. government?s battle for agricultural abundance against the U.S.S.R. Our farm policies were built to dominate, not necessarily to nourish ? and we are still living with the consequences.
2020-08-06
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428. The Simple Economics of Saving the Amazon Rain Forest

Everyone agrees that massive deforestation is an environmental disaster. But most of the standard solutions ? scolding the Brazilians, invoking universal morality ? ignore the one solution that might actually work
2020-07-30
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