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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. 

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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443. A Sneak Peek at Biden’s Top Economist

The incoming president argues that the economy and the environment are deeply connected. This is reflected in his choice for National Economic Council director — Brian Deese, a climate-policy wonk and veteran of the no-drama-Obama era. But don’t mistake Deese’s lack of drama for a lack of intensity.

43mins

10 Dec 2020

Rank #1

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419. 68 Ways to Be Better at Life

The accidental futurist Kevin Kelly on why enthusiasm beats intelligence, how to really listen, and why the solution to bad technology is more technology.

37mins

21 May 2020

Rank #2

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251. Are We in a Mattress-Store Bubble?

You've seen them — everywhere! — and often clustered together, as if central planners across America decided that what every city really needs is a Mattress District. There are now dozens of online rivals too. Why are there so many stores selling something we buy so rarely?

36mins

9 Jun 2016

Rank #3

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442. Is it Too Late for General Motors to Go Electric?

G.M. produces more than 20 times as many cars as Tesla, but Tesla is worth nearly 10 times as much. Mary Barra, the C.E.O. of G.M., is trying to fix that. We speak with her about the race toward an electrified (and autonomous) future, China and Trump, and what it’s like to be the “fifth-most powerful woman in the world.”

44mins

3 Dec 2020

Rank #4

Most Popular Podcasts

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406. Can You Hear Me Now?

When he became chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai announced that he was going to take a “weed whacker” to Obama-era regulations. So far, he’s kept his promise, and earned the internet’s ire for reversing the agency’s position on net neutrality. Pai defends his actions and explains how the U.S. can “win” everything from the 5G race to the war on robocalls.

48mins

20 Feb 2020

Rank #5

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359. Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s?

The quirky little grocery chain with California roots and German ownership has a lot to teach all of us about choice architecture, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, and team spirit.

47mins

29 Nov 2018

Rank #6

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418. What Will College Look Like in the Fall (and Beyond)?

Three university presidents try to answer our listeners’ questions. The result? Not much pomp and a whole lot of circumstance.

55mins

14 May 2020

Rank #7

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386. How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War

Aisle upon aisle of fresh produce, cheap meat, and sugary cereal — a delicious embodiment of free-market capitalism, right? Not quite. The supermarket was in fact the endpoint of the U.S. government’s battle for agricultural abundance against the U.S.S.R. Our farm policies were built to dominate, not necessarily to nourish — and we are still living with the consequences.

39mins

1 Aug 2019

Rank #8

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345. How to Be Happy (Rebroadcast)

The U.N.’s World Happiness Report — created to curtail our unhealthy obsession with G.D.P. — is dominated every year by the Nordic countries. We head to Denmark to learn the secrets of this happiness epidemic (and to see if we should steal them).

37mins

3 Jan 2019

Rank #9

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Does Anyone Really Know What Socialism Is? (Ep. 408 Rebroadcast)

Trump says it would destroy us. Biden needs the voters who support it (especially the Bernie voters). The majority of millennials would like it to replace capitalism. But what is “it”? We bring in the economists to sort things out and tell us what the U.S. can learn from the good (and bad) experiences of other (supposedly) socialist countries.

44mins

17 Sep 2020

Rank #10

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What if Your Company Had No Rules?

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings came to believe that corporate rules can kill creativity and innovation. In this latest edition of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Maria Konnikova talks to Hastings about his new book, No Rules Rules, and why for some companies the greatest risk is taking no risks at all.

55mins

12 Sep 2020

Rank #11

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376. The Data-Driven Guide to Sane Parenting

Humans have been having kids forever, so why are modern parents so bewildered? The economist Emily Oster marshals the evidence on the most contentious topics — breastfeeding and sleep training, vaccines and screen time — and tells her fellow parents to calm the heck down.

49mins

2 May 2019

Rank #12

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407. Is There Really a “Loneliness Epidemic”?

That’s what some health officials are saying, but the data aren’t so clear. We look into what’s known (and not known) about the prevalence and effects of loneliness — including the possible upsides.

33mins

27 Feb 2020

Rank #13

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363. Think Like a Winner

Great athletes aren’t just great at the physical stuff. They’ve also learned how to handle pressure, overcome fear, and stay focused. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be an athlete to use what they know. (Ep. 4 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

55mins

17 Jan 2019

Rank #14

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398. The Truth About the Vaping Crisis

A recent outbreak of illness and death has gotten everyone’s attention — including late-to-the-game regulators. But would a ban on e-cigarettes do more harm than good? We smoke out the facts.

44mins

21 Nov 2019

Rank #15

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379. How to Change Your Mind (Rebroadcast)

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?

45mins

28 Nov 2019

Rank #16

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383. The Zero-Minute Workout

There is strong evidence that exercise is wildly beneficial. There is even stronger evidence that most people hate to exercise. So if a pill could mimic the effects of working out, why wouldn’t we want to take it?

37mins

27 Jun 2019

Rank #17

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340. People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard. (Rebroadcast)

You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge at a time.

57mins

20 Dec 2018

Rank #18

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362. Why Is This Man Running for President? (Update)

A year ago, nobody was taking Andrew Yang very seriously. Now he is America’s favorite entrepre-nerd, with a candidacy that keeps gaining momentum. This episode includes our Jan. 2019 conversation with the leader of the Yang Gang and a fresh interview recorded from the campaign trail in Iowa.

59mins

19 Dec 2019

Rank #19

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399. Honey, I Grew the Economy

Innovation experts have long overlooked where a lot of innovation actually happens. The personal computer, the mountain bike, the artificial pancreas — none of these came from some big R&D lab, but from users tinkering in their homes. Acknowledging this reality — and encouraging it — would be good for the economy (and the soul too).

43mins

5 Dec 2019

Rank #20