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Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher
Society & Culture>Documentary
582 episodes
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. 
  • 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?
    Play48m 22s
  • 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.
    Play44m 15s
  • 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.
    Play35m 24s
  • 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-es...
    Play51m 26s
  • 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.
    Play53m 28s
  • 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?
    Play49m 50s
  • 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?
    Play46m 1s
  • 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...
    Play52m 28s
  • 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...
    Play42m 3s
  • 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?
    Play44m 48s
  • 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 c...
    Play56m 47s
  • 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?
    Play39m 12s
  • 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?
    Play45m 48s
  • 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!
    Play42m 44s
  • 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 o...
    Play57m 38s
  • 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 a...
    Play44m 16s
  • 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 do...
    Play45m 40s
  • 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.
    Play47m 45s
  • 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 tria...
    Play40m 20s
  • 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?
    Play30m 55s
  • 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 tru...
    Play36m 56s
  • 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?
    Play48m 50s
  • 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.
    Play43m 16s
  • 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.
    Play57m 2s
  • 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 powerfu...
    Play44m 41s
  • 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 ful...
    Play48m 21s
  • 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.
    Play37m 12s
  • 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?
    Play49m 41s
  • 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 f...
    Play47m 32s
  • 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 di...
    Play45m 19s
  • 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?
    Play40m 51s
  • 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.
    Play57m 37s
  • 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 (!).
    Play44m 54s
  • 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.
    Play49m 4s
  • 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.
    Play47m 8s
  • 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.
    Play53m 33s
  • 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, complicate...
    Play47m 57s
  • 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’ encoura...
    Play39m 29s
  • 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) experienc...
    Play44m 24s
  • 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 takin...
    Play55m 6s
  • 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).
    Play49m 37s
  • 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-co...
    Play45m 27s
  • 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?
    Play53m 0s
  • 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 econom...
    Play58m 24s
  • 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 unders...
    Play42m 53s
  • 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 l...
    Play54m 42s
  • 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 A...
    Play41m 7s
  • 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, no...
    Play43m 48s
  • 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
    Play32m 14s
  • Most Americans agree that racial discrimination has been, and remains, a big problem. But that is where the agreement ends.
    Play40m 7s
  • 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.
    Play44m 2s