What Are the Police for, Anyway? (Ep. 476)

The U.S. is an outlier when it comes to policing, as evidenced by more than 1,000 fatal shootings by police each year. But we’re an outlier in other ways too: a heavily-armed populace, a fragile mental-health system, and the fact that we spend so much time in our cars. Add in a history of racism and it’s no surprise that barely half of all Americans have a lot of confidence in the police. So what if we start to think about policing as … philanthropy?

How Can You Escape Binary Thinking? (NSQ Ep. 67)

Also: why is it so satisfying to find a bargain?

Leidy Klotz on Why the Best Solutions Involve Less — Not More (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 45)

When we try to improve things, our first thought is often: What can we add to make this better? But Leidy, a professor of engineering, says we tend to overlook the fact that a better solution might be to take something away. He and Steve talk about examples from Leidy’s book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less, and from their own lives.

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01 29 2020

How the San Francisco 49ers Stopped Being Losers (Ep. 350 Update)

One of the most storied (and valuable) sports franchises in the world had fallen far. So they decided to do a full reboot — and it worked: this week, they are headed back to the Super Bowl. Before the 2018 season, we sat down with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and players as they were plotting their turnaround. Here’s an update of that episode.

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What Happens to Patients When Thousands of Cardiologists Leave Town? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 7)

This week, Bapu Jena presents some hot-off-the-presses research exploring the relationship between how many patients a doctor sees, and how well those patients do. Plus, the surprising impact of annual cardiology conferences that prompted Bapu’s first conversation with Stephen Dubner on Freakonomics Radio.

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

Among O.E.C.D. nations, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty. How can that be? To find out, Stephen Dubner speaks with a Republican senator, a Democratic mayor, and a large cast of econo-nerds. Along the way, we hear some surprisingly good news: Washington is finally ready to attack the problem head-on.

When Is It OK to Tell a Lie? (NSQ Ep. 66)

Also: is obsessing over your mental health bad for your mental health?

Edward Glaeser Explains Why Some Cities Thrive While Others Fade Away (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 44)

An expert on urban economics and co-author of the new book Survival of the City, Ed says cities have faced far worse than Covid. Steve talks with the Harvard professor about why the slums of Mumbai function so well, high-quality housing in China sits empty, and declining cities hang on for so long.

Are Barbershops the Cutting Edge of Healthcare Delivery? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 6)

Bapu Jena talks with a barber and a pharmacist whose study brought healthcare to Black men in Los Angeles who were getting haircuts. They discuss its impact on high blood pressure among customers — and how unconventional approaches like this could help build trust.

All You Need Is Nudge (Ep. 474)

When Richard Thaler published Nudge in 2008 (with co-author Cass Sunstein), the world was just starting to believe in his brand of behavioral economics. How did nudge theory hold up in the face of a global financial meltdown, a pandemic, and other existential crises? With the publication of a new, radically updated edition, Thaler tries to persuade Stephen Dubner that nudging is more relevant today than ever.

Why Do We Forget So Much of What We’ve Read? (NSQ Ep. 24 Rebroadcast)

Also: do we overestimate or underestimate our significance in other people’s lives?

Arne Duncan Says All Kids Deserve a Chance — and Criminals Deserve a Second One (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 43)

Former U.S. Secretary of Education, 3x3 basketball champion, and leader of an anti-gun violence organization are all on Arne’s resume. He’s also Steve’s neighbor. The two talk about teachers caught cheating in Chicago public schools and Steve shares a story he’s never told Arne, about a defining moment in the educator’s life.