Freakonomics Radio

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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…

​Dubner Productions and Stitcher

  • Discover Pods Awards
    2018 Business

  • Discover Pods Awards
    2017 Best Business Podcast

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    2015 Business


  • Sep 29, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
  • weekly NEW EPISODES
  • 39m AVG DURATION
  • 658 EPISODES

4.5 from 25,504 ratings Listeners of Freakonomics Radio that love the show mention: dubner, tell me something, freakonomics podcast, freakonomics radio, dialysis, freakanomics, hidden side, tipping, incentives, norway, social sciences, behavioral economics, rebroadcast, emanuel, love the thought, love economics, loved the books, aggregate, steve levitt, conservative s definition.



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Latest episodes from Freakonomics Radio

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

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2022 51:34


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?

516. Nuclear Power Isn't Perfect. Is It Good Enough?

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2022 54:16


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

Extra: Ken Burns | People I (Mostly) Admire

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 46:08


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.

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

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 44:32


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 …

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

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 8, 2022 48:18


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.

514. Roland Fryer Refuses to Lie to Black America

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2022 59:54


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.”

513. Should Public Transit Be Free?

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 25, 2022 45:32


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. 

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

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 18, 2022 47:47


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.

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

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 11, 2022 48:06


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. 

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

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 4, 2022 51:36


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?

512. Does Philosophy Still Matter?

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 28, 2022 49:52


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.

511. Why Did You Marry That Person?

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 21, 2022 46:28


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.

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 14, 2022 51:23


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.

510. What Problems Does Crypto Solve, Anyway?

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 7, 2022 52:11


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?")

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 30, 2022 47:56


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?")

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 23, 2022 49:30


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.) 

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 16, 2022 40:23


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.

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 9, 2022 50:49


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?

505. Did Domestic Violence Really Spike During the Pandemic?

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 2, 2022 50:59


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

504. Introducing “Off Leash”

Play Episode Listen Later May 26, 2022 38:50


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. 

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

Play Episode Listen Later May 19, 2022 48:27


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.”)

Abortion and Crime, Revisited (Ep. 384 Update)

Play Episode Listen Later May 12, 2022 58:01


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.

502. “I Don't Think the Country Is Turning Away From College.”

Play Episode Listen Later May 5, 2022 44:27


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.”)

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

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 28, 2022 59:06


America's top colleges are facing record demand. So why don't they increase supply? (Part 2 of “Freakonomics Radio Goes Back to School.”)

500. What Exactly Is College For?

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 21, 2022 45:48


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.”)

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

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 14, 2022 67:34


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. 

499. Don't Worry, Be Tacky

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 7, 2022 37:37


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?

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

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 31, 2022 43:17


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.

497. Can the Big Bad Wolf Save Your Life?

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 24, 2022 46:41


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 …

How to Change Your Mind (Ep. 379 Update)

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 17, 2022 47:59


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?

496. Do Unions Still Work?

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 10, 2022 51:32


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.

495. Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses?

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 3, 2022 48:34


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. 

494. Why Do Most Ideas Fail to Scale?

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 24, 2022 48:54


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.”  

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

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 17, 2022 53:40


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.

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

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 10, 2022 50:48


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.

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

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 3, 2022 44:43


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? 

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 27, 2022 39:19


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?

491. Why Is Everyone Moving to Dallas?

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 20, 2022 48:27


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.)

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

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 13, 2022 47:01


Curses and other superstitions may have no basis in reality, but that doesn't stop us from believing. 

489. Is “Toxic Positivity” a Thing?

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 6, 2022 36:19


 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. 

488. Does Death Have to Be a Death Sentence?

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 30, 2021 53:58


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?

487. Is It Okay to Have a Party Yet?

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2021 31:11


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.

486. “The Art Market Is in Massive Disruption.”

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 16, 2021 42:21


Is art really meant to be an “asset class”? Will the digital revolution finally democratize a market that just keeps getting more elitist? And what will happen to the last painting Alice Neel ever made? (Part 3 of “The Hidden Side of the Art Market.”)

485. “I've Been Working My Ass Off for You to Make that Profit?”

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 9, 2021 46:24


The more successful an artist is, the more likely their work will later be resold at auction for a huge markup — and they receive nothing. Should that change? Also: why doesn't contemporary art impact society the way music and film do? (Part 2 of “The Hidden Side of the Art Market.”)

484. “A Fascinating, Sexy, Intellectually Compelling, Unregulated Global Market.”

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 52:42


The art market is so opaque and illiquid that it barely functions like a market at all. A handful of big names get all the headlines (and most of the dollars). Beneath the surface is a tangled web of dealers, curators, auction houses, speculators — and, of course, artists. In the first episode of a three-part series, we meet the key players and learn how an obscure, long-dead American painter suddenly became a superstar. (Part 1 of “The Hidden Side of the Art Market.”)

How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis? (Ep. 444 Replay)

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2021 51:00


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?

483. What's Wrong With Shortcuts?

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 43:20


You know the saying: “There are no shortcuts in life.” What if that saying is just wrong? In his new book Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life, the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy argues that shortcuts can be applied to practically anything: music, psychotherapy, even politics. Our latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

482. Is Venture Capital the Secret Sauce of the American Economy?

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 45:35


The U.S. is home to seven of the world's 10 biggest companies. How did that happen? The answer may come down to two little letters: V.C. Is venture capital good for society, or does it just help the rich get richer? Stephen Dubner invests the time to find out.

481. Is the U.S. Really Less Corrupt Than China?

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 55:46


A new book by an unorthodox political scientist argues that the two rivals have more in common than we'd like to admit. It's just that most American corruption is essentially legal.

480. How Much Does Discrimination Hurt the Economy?

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 53:19


Evidence from Nazi Germany and 1940's America (and pretty much everywhere else) shows that discrimination is incredibly costly — to the victims, of course, but also the perpetrators. One modern solution is to invoke a diversity mandate. But new research shows that's not necessarily the answer.

479. The Economist's Guide to Parenting: 10 Years Later

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 51:02


 In one of the earliest Freakonomics Radio episodes (No. 39!), 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 sometimes don't tell your friends that your father is an economist.

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