Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

United States

In their books "Freakonomics" and "SuperFreakonomics," Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore "the hidden side of everything," with stories about cheating schoolteachers, self-dealing real-estate agents, and crack-selling mama’s boys. The Freakonomics Radio podcast, hosted by Dubner, carries on that tradition with weekly episodes. Prepare to be enlightened, engaged, perhaps enraged, and definitely surprised.

Episodes

Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor?  

A series of academic studies suggest that the wealthy are, to put it bluntly, selfish jerks. It's an easy narrative to swallow — but is it true? A trio of economists set out to test the theory. All it took was a Dutch postal worker's uniform, some envelopes stuffed with cash, and a slight sense of the absurd.

Hoopers! Hoopers! Hoopers!  

As CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer was famous for over-the-top enthusiasm. Now he's brought that same passion to the N.B.A. -- and to a pet project called USAFacts, which performs a sort of fiscal colonoscopy on the American government.

How Big is My Penis? (And Other Things We Ask Google)  

On the Internet, people say all kinds of things they'd never say aloud -- about sex and race, about their true wants and fears. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has spent years parsing the data. His conclusion: our online searches are the reflection of our true selves. In the real world, everybody lies.

Food + Science = Victory! (Rebroadcast)  

A kitchen wizard and a nutrition detective talk about the perfect hamburger, getting the most out of garlic, and why you should use vodka in just about everything.

There’s a War on Sugar. Is It Justified?  

Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it's addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make? We hear from a regulatory advocate, an evidence-based skeptic, a former FDA commissioner — and the organizers of Milktoberfest.

Earth 2.0: Is Income Inequality Inevitable?  

In pursuit of a more perfect economy, we discuss the future of work; the toxic remnants of colonization; and whether giving everyone a basic income would be genius -- or maybe the worst idea ever.

Earth 2.0: What Would Our Economy Look Like?  

If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we've blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we'll release over several months. Today we start with — what else? — economics. You'll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others.

Could Solving This One Problem Solve All the Others?  

The biggest problem with humanity is humans themselves. Too often, we make choices — what we eat, how we spend our money and time — that undermine our well-being. An all-star team of academic researchers thinks it has the solution: perfecting the science of behavior change. Will it work?

Big Returns from Thinking Small  

By day, two leaders of Britain's famous Nudge Unit use behavioral tricks to make better government policy. By night, they repurpose those tricks to improve their personal lives. They want to help you do the same.

BONUS: “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” on the topic of Collections.  

Hear live journalism wrapped in a game show package and hosted by Stephen J. Dubner. In this episode, Tim Ferriss, Eugene Mirman and Anne Pasternak are panelists. The self-help guru, the comedian and the Brooklyn Museum director talk about brainwaves, sugar, stars and — thanks to fact-checker AJ Jacobs — barf bags.

How Safe Is Your Job? (Rebroadcast)  

Economists preach the gospel of "creative destruction," whereby new industries -- and jobs -- replace the old ones. But has creative destruction become too destructive?

Why Is My Life So Hard?  

Most of us feel we face more headwinds and obstacles than everyone else — which breeds resentment. We also undervalue the tailwinds that help us — which leaves us ungrateful and unhappy. How can we avoid this trap?

Chuck E. Cheese’s: Where a Kid Can Learn Price Theory  

The pizza-and-gaming emporium prides itself on affordability, which means its arcade games are really cheap to play. Does that lead to kids hogging the best games — and parents starting those infamous YouTube brawls?

The Taboo Trifecta  

The serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal loves to talk about the bodily functions that make most people flinch. That's why she's building a business around the three P's: periods, pee, and poop.

No Hollywood Ending for the Visual-Effects Industry  

In their chase for a global audience, American movie studios spend billions to make their films look amazing. But almost none of those dollars stay in America. What would it take to bring those jobs back -- and would it be worth it?

Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal  

What happens when a public-health researcher deep in coal country argues that mountaintop mining endangers the entire community? Hint: it doesn't go very well.

How to Get More Grit in Your Life (Rebroadcast)  

The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person's level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn't something you're born with -- it can be learned. Here's how.

An Egghead’s Guide to the Super Bowl  

We assembled a panel of smart dudes -- a two-time Super Bowl champ; a couple of NFL linemen, including one who's getting a math Ph.D. at MIT; and our resident economist -- to tell you what to watch for, whether you're a football fanatic or a total newbie.

Did China Eat America’s Jobs?  

For years, economists promised that global free trade would be mostly win-win. Now they admit the pace of change has been "traumatic." This has already lead to a political insurrection -- so what's next?

Is the American Dream Really Dead?  

Just a few decades ago, more than 90 percent of 30-year-olds earned more than their parents had earned at the same age. Now it's only about 50 percent. What happened -- and what can be done about it?

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