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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. The entire archive, going back to 2010, is available on the Stitcher podcast app and at freakonomics.com.

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Episodes

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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427. The Pros and Cons of Reparations

Most Americans agree that racial discrimination has been, and remains, a big problem. But that is where the agreement ends.
2020-07-23
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426. Should America (and FIFA) Pay Reparations?

The racial wealth gap in the U.S. is massive. We explore the causes, consequences, and potential solutions. Also: another story of discrimination and economic disparity, this one perpetrated by an international sporting authority. The first of a two-part series.
2020-07-16
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425. Remembrance of Economic Crises Past

Christina Romer was a top White House economist during the Great Recession. As a researcher, she specializes in the Great Depression. She tells us what those disasters can (and can?t) teach us about the Covid crash.
2020-07-09
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424. How to Make Your Own Luck

Before she decided to become a poker pro, Maria Konnikova didn?t know how many cards are in a deck. But she did have a Ph.D. in psychology, a brilliant coach, and a burning desire to know whether life is driven more by skill or chance. She found some answers in poker ? and in her new book The Biggest Bluff, she?s willing to tell us everything she learned.
2020-07-02
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423. The Doctor Will Zoom You Now

Thanks to the pandemic, the telehealth revolution we?ve been promised for decades has finally arrived. Will it stick? Will it cut costs ? and improve outcomes? We ring up two doctors and, of course, an economist to find out.
2020-06-25
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422. Introducing "No Stupid Questions"

In this new addition to the Freakonomics Radio Network, co-hosts Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss the relationship between age and happiness. Also: does all creativity come from pain? New episodes of "No Stupid Questions" are released every Sunday evening ? please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
2020-06-18
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421. How to Prevent Another Great Depression

Millions and millions are out of work, with some jobs never coming back. We speak with four economists ? and one former presidential candidate ? about the best policy options and the lessons (good and bad) from the past.
2020-06-11
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420. Which Jobs Will Come Back, and When?

Covid-19 is the biggest job killer in a century. As the lockdown eases, what does re-employment look like? Who will be first and who last? Which sectors will surge and which will disappear? Welcome to the Great Labor Reallocation of 2020.
2020-06-04
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How to Make Meetings Less Terrible (Ep. 389 Rebroadcast)

In the U.S. alone, we hold 55 million meetings a day. Most of them are woefully unproductive, and tyrannize our offices. The revolution begins now ? with better agendas, smaller invite lists, and an embrace of healthy conflict.
2020-05-28
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419. 68 Ways to Be Better at Life

The accidental futurist Kevin Kelly on why enthusiasm beats intelligence, how to really listen, and why the solution to bad technology is more technology.
2020-05-21
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418. What Will College Look Like in the Fall (and Beyond)?

Three university presidents try to answer our listeners? questions. The result? Not much pomp and a whole lot of circumstance.
2020-05-14
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417. Reasons to Be Cheerful

Humans have a built-in ?negativity bias,? which means we give bad news much more power than good. Would the Covid-19 crisis be an opportune time to reverse this tendency?
2020-05-07
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416. How Do You Reopen a Country?

We speak with a governor, a former C.D.C. director, a pandemic forecaster, a hard-charging pharmacist, and a pair of economists ? who say it?s all about the incentives. (Pandemillions, anyone?)
2020-04-30
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415. How Rahm Emanuel Would Run the World

As a former top adviser to presidents Clinton and Obama, he believes in the power of the federal government. But as former mayor of Chicago, he says that cities are where real problems get solved ? especially in the era of Covid-19.
2020-04-27
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414. Will Covid-19 Spark a Cold War (or Worse) With China?

The U.S. spent the past few decades waiting for China to act like the global citizen it said it wanted to be. The waiting may be over.
2020-04-23
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413. Who Gets the Ventilator?

Should a nurse or doctor who gets sick treating Covid-19 patients have priority access to a potentially life-saving healthcare device? Americans aren?t used to rationing in medicine, but it?s time to think about it. We consult a lung specialist, a bioethicist, and (of course) an economist.
2020-04-16
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412. What Happens When Everyone Stays Home to Eat?

Covid-19 has shocked our food-supply system like nothing in modern history. We examine the winners, the losers, the unintended consequences ? and just how much toilet paper one household really needs.
2020-04-09
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411. Is $2 Trillion the Right Medicine for a Sick Economy?

Congress just passed the biggest aid package in modern history. We ask six former White House economic advisors and one U.S. Senator: Will it actually work? What are its best and worst features? Where does $2 trillion come from, and what are the long-term effects of all that government spending? 
2020-04-02
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