Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

United States

In their books "Freakonomics," "SuperFreakonomics" and "Think Like a Freak", Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore "the hidden side of everything," telling stories about cheating schoolteachers and eating champions while teaching us all to think a bit more creatively, rationally, and productively. 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

Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language? (Earth 2.0 Series)  

There are 7,000 languages spoken on Earth. What are the costs — and benefits — of our modern-day Tower of Babel?

"How Much Brain Damage Do I Have?"  

John Urschel was the only player in the N.F.L. simultaneously getting a math Ph.D. at M.I.T. But after a new study came out linking football to brain damage, he abruptly retired. Here's the inside story — and a look at how we make decisions in the face of risk versus uncertainty.

Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis (Rebroadcast)  

By some estimates, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. How can that be? And what's to be done? Our third and final episode in this series offers some encouraging answers.

Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations (Rebroadcast)  

How do so many ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market? One reason is that clinical trials are often run on "dream patients" who aren't representative of a larger population. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing worse than being excluded from a drug trial is being included.

Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6 (Rebroadcast)  

We tend to think of medicine as a science, but for most of human history it has been scientific-ish at best. In the first episode of a three-part series, we look at the grotesque mistakes produced by centuries of trial-and-error, and ask whether the new era of evidence-based medicine is the solution.

What Are You Waiting For? (Rebroadcast)  

Standing in line represents a particularly sloppy — and frustrating — way for supply and demand to meet. Why haven't we found a better way to get what we want? Is it possible that we secretly enjoy waiting in line? And might it even be (gulp) good for us?

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask)  

The bad news: roughly 70 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. The good news: all the important stuff can fit on one index card. Here's how to become your own financial superhero.

The Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money  

It's hard enough to save for a house, tuition, or retirement. So why are we willing to pay big fees for subpar investment returns? Enter the low-cost index fund. The revolution will not be monetized.

These Shoes Are Killing Me!  

The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece, far more functional than we give it credit for. So why do we encase it in "a coffin" (as one foot scholar calls it) that stymies so much of its ability — and may create more problems than it solves?

When Helping Hurts  

Good intentions are nice, but with so many resources poured into social programs, wouldn't it be even nicer to know what actually works?

The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From Marriage  

Over 40 percent of U.S. births are to unmarried mothers, and the numbers are especially high among the less-educated. Why? One argument is that the decline in good manufacturing jobs led to a decline in "marriageable" men. Surely the fracking boom reversed that trend, right?

The Harvard President Will See You Now (Rebroadcast)  

How a pain-in-the-neck girl from rural Virginia came to run the most powerful university in the world.

Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2)  

Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his management philosophy, and why he supports legislation that goes against his self-interest.

Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 1)  

Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his management philosophy and why he supports legislation that goes against his self-interest.

"Tell Me Something I Don't Know" on the topic of Rivalry  

Steve Levitt, Scott Turow and Bridget Gainer are panelists. For the "Freakonomics" co-author, the attorney and novelist, and the Cook County commissioner it's "game on!" as they tackle competition of all kinds: athletic, sexual, geopolitical, and the little-known battle between butter and margarine that landed in the Supreme Court. WBEZ's Tricia Bobeda, co-host of the "Nerdette" podcast, is fact-checker.

Evolution, Accelerated  

A breakthrough in genetic technology has given humans more power than ever to change nature. It could help eliminate hunger and disease; it could also lead to the sort of dystopia we used to only read about in sci-fi novels. So what happens next?

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He’s One of the Most Famous Political Operatives in America. America Just Doesn’t Know It Yet.  

Steve Hilton was the man behind David Cameron's push to remake British politics. Things didn't work out so well there. Now he's trying to launch a new political revolution – from sunny California.

How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns?  

Nearly two percent of America is grassy green. Sure, lawns are beautiful and useful and they smell great. But are the costs — financial, environmental and otherwise — worth the benefits?

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.

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