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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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523. Did Michael Lewis Just Get Lucky with ?Moneyball??

No ? but he does have a knack for stumbling into the perfect moment, including the recent FTX debacle. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, we revisit the book that launched the analytics revolution.

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522. Is Google Getting Worse?

It used to feel like magic. Now it can feel like a set of cheap tricks. Is the problem with Google ? or with us?

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The Most Interesting Fruit in the World (Ep. 375 Update)

The banana, once a luxury good, rose to become America?s favorite fruit. Now a deadly fungus threatens to wipe it out. Can it be saved?

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521. I?m Your Biggest Fan!

It?s fun to obsess over pop stars and racecar drivers ? but is fandom making our politics even more toxic?  

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520. The Unintended Consequences of Working from Home

The last two years have radically changed the way we work ? producing winners, losers, and a lot of surprises.

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519. Has Globalization Failed?

It was supposed to boost prosperity and democracy at the same time. What really happened? According to the legal scholar Anthea Roberts, it depends which story you believe.

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518. Are Personal Finance Gurus Giving You Bad Advice?

One Yale economist certainly thinks so. But even if he?s right, are economists any better?

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517. Are M.B.A.s to Blame for Wage Stagnation?

New research finds that bosses who went to business school pay their workers less. So what are M.B.A. programs teaching ? and should they stop? 

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Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears (Ep. 439 Update)

The pandemic provided city dwellers with a break from the din of the modern world. Now the noise is coming back. What does that mean for our productivity, health, and basic sanity?

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516. Nuclear Power Isn?t Perfect. Is It Good Enough?

Liberals endorse harm reduction when it comes to the opioid epidemic. Are they ready to take the same approach to climate change? 

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Extra: Ken Burns | People I (Mostly) Admire

The documentary filmmaker, known for The Civil War, Jazz, and Baseball, turns his attention to the Holocaust, and asks what we can learn from the evils of the past.

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515. When You Pray to God Online, Who Else Is Listening?

The pandemic moved a lot of religious activity onto the internet. With faith-based apps, Silicon Valley is turning virtual prayers into earthly rewards. Does this mean sharing user data? Dear God, let?s hope not ?

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This Is Your Brain on Pollution (Ep. 472 Update)

As the Biden administration rushes to address climate change, Stephen Dubner looks at another, hidden cost of air pollution ? one that?s affecting how we think.

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514. Roland Fryer Refuses to Lie to Black America

The controversial Harvard economist, recently back from a suspension, ?broke a lot of glass early in my career,? he says. His research on school incentives and police brutality won him acclaim ? but also enemies. Now he?s taking a hard look at corporate diversity programs. The common thread in his work? ?I refuse to not tell the truth.?

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513. Should Public Transit Be Free?

It boosts economic opportunity and social mobility. It?s good for the environment. So why do we charge people to use it? The short answer: it?s complicated. 

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Why Is U.S. Media So Negative? (Ep. 477 Replay)

Breaking news! Sources say American journalism exploits our negativity bias to maximize profits, and social media algorithms add fuel to the fire. Stephen Dubner investigates.

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The Pros and Cons of America?s (Extreme) Individualism (Ep. 470 Replay)

According to a decades-long research project, the U.S. is not only the most individualistic country on earth; we?re also high on indulgence, short-term thinking, and masculinity (but low on ?uncertainty avoidance,? if that makes you feel better). We look at how these traits affect our daily lives and why we couldn?t change them even if we wanted to. 

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The U.S. Is Just Different ? So Let?s Stop Pretending We?re Not (Ep. 469 Replay)

We often look to other countries for smart policies on education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. But can a smart policy be simply transplanted into a country as culturally unusual (and as supremely WEIRD) as America?

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512. Does Philosophy Still Matter?

It used to be at the center of our conversations about politics and society. Scott Hershovitz (author of Nasty, Brutish, and Short) argues that philosophy still has a lot to say about work, justice, and parenthood. Our latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

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511. Why Did You Marry That Person?

Sure, you were ?in love.? But economists ? using evidence from Bridgerton to Tinder ? point to what?s called ?assortative mating.? And it has some unpleasant consequences for society.

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The Economist?s Guide to Parenting: 10 Years Later (Ep. 479 Replay)

In one of the earliest Freakonomics Radio episodes, we asked a bunch of economists with young kids how they approached child-rearing. Now the kids are old enough to talk ? and they have a lot to say. We hear about nature vs. nurture, capitalism vs. Marxism, and why you don?t tell your friends that your father is an economist.

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510. What Problems Does Crypto Solve, Anyway?

Boosters say blockchain technology will usher in a brave new era of decentralization. Are they right ? and would it be a dream or a nightmare? (Part 3 of "What Can Blockchain Do for You?")

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509. Are N.F.T.s All Scams?

Some of them are. With others, it?s more complicated (and more promising). We try to get past the Bored Apes and the ripoffs to see if we can find art on the blockchain. (Part 2 of "What Can Blockchain Do for You?")

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508. Does the Crypto Crash Mean the Blockchain Is Over?

No. But now is a good time to sort out the potential from the hype. Whether you?re bullish, bearish, or just confused, we?re here to explain what the blockchain can do for you. (Part 1 of a series.) 

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507. 103 Pieces of Advice That May or May Not Work

Kevin Kelly calls himself ?the most optimistic person in the world.? And he has a lot to say about parenting, travel, A.I., being luckier ? and why we should spend way more time on YouTube.

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506. What Is Sportswashing (and Does It Work)?

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 P.G.A. Tour. Can a sporting event really repair a country?s reputation ? or will it trigger the dreaded Streisand Effect?

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505. Did Domestic Violence Really Spike During the Pandemic?

When the world went into lockdown, experts predicted a rise in intimate-partner assaults. What actually happened was more complicated.

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504. Introducing ?Off Leash?

In this new podcast from the Freakonomics Radio Network, dog-cognition expert and bestselling author Alexandra Horowitz (Inside of a Dog) takes us inside the scruffy, curious, joyful world of dogs. This is the first episode of Off Leash; you can find more episodes in your podcast app now. 

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503. What Is the Future of College ? and Does It Have Room for Men?

Educators and economists tell us all the reasons college enrollment has been dropping, especially for men, and how to stop the bleeding. (Part 4 of ?Freakonomics Radio Goes Back to School.?)

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Abortion and Crime, Revisited (Ep. 384 Update)

As the Supreme Court considers overturning Roe v. Wade, we look back at Steve Levitt?s controversial research on an unintended consequence of the 1973 ruling.

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502. ?I Don?t Think the Country Is Turning Away From College.?

Enrollment is down for the first time in memory, and critics complain college is too expensive, too elitist, and too politicized. The economist Chris Paxson ? who happens to be the president of Brown University ? does not agree. (Part 3 of ?Freakonomics Radio Goes Back to School.?)

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501. The University of Impossible-to-Get-Into

America?s top colleges are facing record demand. So why don?t they increase supply? (Part 2 of ?Freakonomics Radio Goes Back to School.?)

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500. What Exactly Is College For?

We think of them as intellectual enclaves and the surest route to a better life. But U.S. colleges also operate like firms, trying to differentiate their products to win market share and prestige points. In the first episode of a special series, we ask what our chaotic system gets right ? and wrong. (Part 1 of ?Freakonomics Radio Goes Back to School.?)

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Is the U.S. Really Less Corrupt Than China ? and How About Russia? (Ep. 481 Update)

The political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang argues that different forms of government create different styles of corruption. The U.S. and China have more in common than we?d like to admit ? but Russia is a different story, which could explain its willingness to invade Ukraine. 

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499. Don't Worry, Be Tacky

The British art superstar Flora Yukhnovich, the Freakonomist Steve Levitt, and the upstart American Basketball Association were all unafraid to follow their joy ? despite sneers from the Establishment. Should we all be more willing to embrace the déclassé?

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498. In the 1890s, the Best-Selling Car Was ? Electric

After a huge false start, electric cars are finally about to flourish. We speak with a technology historian about this all-too-common story, and what it means for innovation everywhere.

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497. Can the Big Bad Wolf Save Your Life?

Every year, there are more than a million collisions in the U.S. between drivers and deer. The result: hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and billions in damages. Enter the wolf ?

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How to Change Your Mind (Ep. 379 Update)

There are a lot of barriers to changing your mind: ego, overconfidence, inertia ? and cost. Politicians who flip-flop get mocked; family and friends who cross tribal borders are shunned. But shouldn?t we be encouraging people to change their minds? And how can we get better at it ourselves?

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496. Do Unions Still Work?

Organized labor hasn?t had this much public support in 50 years, and yet the percentage of Americans in a union is near a record low. A.F.L-C.I.O. president Liz Shuler tries to explain this gap ? and persuade Stephen Dubner that ?the folks who brought you the weekend? still have the leverage to fix a broken economy.

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495. Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses?

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.


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494. Why Do Most Ideas Fail to Scale?

In a new book called The Voltage Effect, the economist John List ? who has already revolutionized how his profession does research ? is trying to start a scaling revolution. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, List teaches us how to avoid false positives, how to know whether a given success is due to the chef or the ingredients, and how to practice ?optimal quitting.?  

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Why Does the Richest Country in the World Have So Many Poor Kids? (Ep. 475 Update)

Among O.E.C.D. nations, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty. Until recently, it looked as if Washington was about to change that. But then ? Washington happened.

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493. Why Does the Most Monotonous Job in the World Pay $1 Million?

Adam Smith famously argued that specialization is the key to prosperity. In the N.F.L., the long snapper is proof of that argument. Just in time for the Super Bowl, here?s everything there is to know about a job that didn?t used to exist.

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Are You Ready for a Fresh Start? (Ep. 455 Replay)

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?


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492. How Did a Hayfield Become One of America?s Hottest Cities?

Frisco used to be just another sleepy bedroom community outside of Dallas. Now it?s got corporate headquarters, billions of investment dollars, and a bunch of Democrats in a place that used to be deep red. Is Frisco nothing more than a suburb on steroids ? or is it the future of the American city?

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491. Why Is Everyone Moving to Dallas?

When Stephen Dubner learned that Dallas?Fort Worth will soon overtake Chicago as the third-biggest metro area in the U.S., he got on a plane to find out why. Despite getting stood up by the mayor, nearly drowning on a highway, and eating way too much barbecue, he came away impressed. (Part 1 of 2 ? because even podcasts are bigger in Texas.)

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490. What Do Broken-Hearted Knitters, Urinating Goalkeepers, and the C.I.A. Have in Common?

Curses and other superstitions may have no basis in reality, but that doesn?t stop us from believing. 

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489. Is ?Toxic Positivity? a Thing?

 In this special episode of No Stupid Questions, Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss the consequences of seeing every glass as at least half-full. 

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488. Does Death Have to Be a Death Sentence?

In this special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt speaks with the palliative physician B.J. Miller about modern medicine?s goal of ?protecting a pulse at all costs.? Is there a better, even beautiful way to think about death and dying?

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487. Is It Okay to Have a Party Yet?

In this special episode of Freakonomics, M.D., host Bapu Jena looks at data from birthday parties, March Madness parties, and a Freakonomics Radio holiday party to help us all manage our risk of Covid-19 exposure.

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