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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. The entire archive, going back to 2010, is available on the Stitcher podcast app and at freakonomics.com.

456. How to Fix the Hot Mess of U.S. Healthcare

Freakonomics Radio

  • 590 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 51:52

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? 

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Ep. 405 Rebroadcast)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 300 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 46:01

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?

How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself? (Bonus)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 280 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 52:28

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 New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation.

455. Are You Ready for a Fresh Start?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 390 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 44:03

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?

454. Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 450 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 45:18

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?

453. A Rescue Plan for Black America

Freakonomics Radio

  • 280 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 56:47

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 create a region where it’s safe to be Black. (This is an episode of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.)

452. Jeff Immelt Knows He Let You Down

Freakonomics Radio

  • 340 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 45:48

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? 

451. Can I Ask You a Ridiculously Personal Question?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 220 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 42:25

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!

450. How to Be Better at Death

Freakonomics Radio

  • 250 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 57:38

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 of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, she is interviewed by guest host Maria Konnikova.

449. How to Fix the Incentives in Cancer Research

Freakonomics Radio

  • 210 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 44:15

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 against one another.

447. How Much Do We Really Care About Children?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 240 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 50:58

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.

446. “We Get All Our Great Stuff from Europe — Including Witch Hunting.”

Freakonomics Radio

  • 230 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 42:00

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 trials, and whether we need a Manhattan Project for climate change. 

Trust Me (Ep. 266 Rebroadcast)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 240 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 31:45

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?

445. Why Do We Seek Comfort in the Familiar?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 280 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 36:56

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 truly as dangerous as they say? 

444. How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 330 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 48:50

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?

PLAYBACK (2015): Could the Next Brooklyn Be ... Las Vegas?!

Freakonomics Radio

  • 240 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 57:02

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.

441. Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 2: Digital)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 630 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 50:51

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 full-blown digital-ad bubble.

“Don’t Neglect the Thing That Makes You Weird” | People I (Mostly) Admire: Ken Jennings

Freakonomics Radio

  • 590 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 50:37

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.

433. How Are Psychedelics and Other Party Drugs Changing Psychiatry?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 280 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 56:49

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.

432. When Your Safety Becomes My Danger

Freakonomics Radio

  • 280 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 50:25

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, complicated, and heart-breaking tradeoffs of conflict-zone economies.