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

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.

Should We Just Ignore Our Weaknesses? (NSQ Ep. 61)

Also: why do we like what we like?

Sendhil Mullainathan Thinks Messing Around is the Best Use of Your Time (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 37)

He’s a professor of computation and behavioral science at the University of Chicago, MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, and author. Steve and Sendhil laugh their way through a conversation about the importance of play, the benefits of change, and why we remember so little about the books we’ve read — and how Sendhil’s new app solves this problem.

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02 14 2012

Happy Valentine's Day: Economist Edition

 You might think that the dismal science has very little to offer on matters of the heart.  But I disagree.  And so does Elisabeth Fosslien. She’s a brilliant young analyst interested in design, math, and economics. Yes, she’s the sort of person who dressed up as a bear market for Halloween. ...

Introducing “This Won’t Hurt a Bit”

How can a marathon be dangerous even if you don’t run the race? Does your doctor follow medical advice any better than you do? Just how dangerous was it to go to a birthday party at the height of the pandemic? These are the kinds of questions that intrigue Dr. Bapu Jena, a rare double threat — he’s both an M.D. and a Ph.D. economist at Harvard. Each week on This Won’t Hurt a Bit, Jena digs into fascinating research to discover the hidden side of healthcare.

Why Do We Complain? (NSQ Ep. 60)

Also: what do you really mean when you say you “don’t have time”?

How Rahm Emanuel Would Run the World (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 36)

In this interview, first heard on Freakonomics Radio last year, Steve talks with the former top adviser to presidents Clinton and Obama, about his record — and his reputation. And Rahm explains that while he believes in the power of the federal government, as former mayor of Chicago, he says that cities are where problems really get solved.

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

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?

Do Dreams Actually Mean Anything? (NSQ Ep. 59)

Also: why is music so memorable?

David Epstein Knows Something About Almost Everything (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 35)

He’s been an Arctic scientist, a sports journalist, and is now a best-selling author of science books. His latest, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, makes the argument that early specialization does not give you a head start in life. David and Steve talk about why frustration is a good sign, and why the 10,000-hour rule is definitely not a rule.

Nap Time for Everyone! (Ep. 468)

The benefits of sleep are by now well established, and yet many people don’t get enough. A new study suggests we should channel our inner toddler and get 30 minutes of shut-eye in the afternoon. But are we ready for a napping revolution?

How Can You Stop Comparing Yourself With Other People? (NSQ Ep. 13 Rebroadcast)

Also: how can we stop confusing correlation with causation?