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In Praise of Mediocrity: An Excerpt From James Altucher’s Choose Yourself!

James Altucher, who has shown up on this blog a number of times — and who was having lunch with me when we saw a lady get a mouse in her salad — has a new book out. It’s called Choose Yourself! Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream. It is a classic Altucherian blend of insight, candor, and calamity. He has already made news with the book by letting Bitcoin users buy it ahead of the official release, and he is also giving people their money back if they read the whole book. Since he’s essentially giving the book away for free, we thought we might as well offer a free excerpt here. It is a chapter in praise of mediocrity. My favorite passage by far is this one:

The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the ugly bastard child that results. The child that was so ugly nobody else wanted to touch it. Look at Facebook: combine the internet with stalking. Amazing!

Enjoy! Read More »





James Altucher Strikes Again

A few years ago, I was working on a book about the psychology of money — a book I put aside when Freakonomics began to happen. The first chapter of the book was about a fellow named James Altucher, whom I’ve blogged about before. James’s relationship with money was fascinating and precarious. He grew up […] Read More »





Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem? A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

The gist: If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it? Read More »





Win Free Tickets to See Dubner on Stage in Brooklyn on January 14

Stephen Dubner’s new podcast Question of the Day launched in August, it immediately shot to No. 1 on the iTunes chart. Last month it was selected as one of iTunes “Best of 2015.” (You can subscribe here.) Now you can come see a live taping of the show on Thursday, January 14, at The Bell House in Brooklyn. Join Dubner, his Question of the Day co-host, James Altucher, and their special guest Negin Farsad for an evening of conversation that will run from the ridiculous to the sublime (and occasionally both). Read More »





Introducing “Question of the Day,” a New Dubner Podcast

One of the best things about being a journalist is getting to ask questions. Stephen Dubner has been doing this for years, accumulating fascinating bits of knowledge, hidden insights, and wild stories. By now he knows at least a little bit about a lot of things. Read More »





How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast


Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is a rebroadcast called “How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

The gist: Doctors, chefs, and other experts are much more likely than the rest of us to buy store-brand products. What do they know that we don’t? And if we all did like they do, how much fatter might our wallets be? Read More »





Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset? Full Transcript

This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset?” [MUSIC: Brotherun, “Wishful Thinking” (from Brotherun EP)] Stephen J. DUBNER: In our previous episode, we talked about a set of TV commercials that use behavioral research to sell financial products like life insurance. Daniel GILBERT: It’s great to think optimistically […] Read More »





Think Like a Freak

The New York Times-bestselling Freakonomics changed the way we see the world, exposing the hidden side of just about everything. Then came SuperFreakonomics, a documentary film, an award-winning podcast, and more. Now, with Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have written their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend […] Read More »