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Episode 1

Steven Pinker: “I Manage My Controversy Portfolio Carefully”

By cataloging the steady march of human progress, the Harvard psychologist and linguist has become a very public intellectual. But the self-declared “polite Canadian” has managed to enrage people on…

Bring Your Questions for Author Steven Pinker

…“The Global War on Terror,” Pinker shows that the rates of death from terrorism are below where they were in 1970. Pinker has kindly agreed to answer reader submitted questions….

Author Steven Pinker Answers Your Questions

Photo credit: Rebecca Goldstein Last week we solicited your questions for author and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker on his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence…

The Decline and Fall of Violence (Ep. 43)

…builds off the fascinating new book by Steven Pinker called The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker has just completed a very good Q&A on our…

Episode 446

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

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…

Episode 101

Celebrating 100 People I (Mostly) Admire

Steve and producer Morgan Levey look back at the first 100 episodes of the podcast, including surprising answers, spectacular explanations, and listeners who heard the show and changed their lives….

The FREAKest Links: Cold Case and Hot Button Edition

…solved.” Similar decks have been created and distributed in San Diego; Kansas City, Mo.; and Odessa, Tex. The Chicago Sun-Times excerpts Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker‘s preface to the book,…

Episode 43

The Decline and Fall of Violence

The world is a more peaceful place today that at any time in history — by a long, long shot.

Episode 132

Is It Wrong to Enjoy Yourself While the World Is Burning?

Are things as dire as they seem? How big is your moral circle? And should Angela spend time with her kids or answer her emails?…

Carrots and Sticks at the RSA

…cool animation of a Stephen Pinker talk). Here is a 15-minute condensation of a talk I gave about my book, Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get…

A new blog that is way better than ours

…to talk at length with people like Steve Pinker, Mitch Kapor, and even Thomas Dolby. What is best about the conference is that people really have fun. When I attended…

The FREAK-est Links

How is baseball signaling like financial markets? Steve Pinker to speak in New Jersey. (Earlier) Airlines offering better meals, albeit for a price. (Earlier) Chinese cremator leaves corpses half burned…

The two smartest musicians I ever met

…a blog to accompany it. Steve Pinker was also at the table that day. (If he were a musician, he would definitely be one of the two smartest musicians I’d…

Betting on the End of the World

…cash (including Tierney) on There’s more information on Tierney’s blog, including a link to this interesting essay by Steven Pinker about the overall decline of violence in modern times….

Dangerous Ideas

I once had the honor of sharing a meal with Steven Pinker. He was as fun and brilliant in person as he is in his writing. The Chicago Sun-Times recently…

The FREAK-est Links

…by identity thieves. (Earlier) The Rubik’s Cube World Championships — the next Rock, Paper Scissors? Steve Pinker calls the modern age “the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.” (Earlier)…

Episode 528

Yuval Noah Harari Thinks Life is Meaningless and Amazing

In this special episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steve Levitt talks to the best-selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus about finding the profound in the obvious….

Episode 82

Is This the Future of High School?

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan returns to share his vision for a new way to learn — and the conversation inspires Steve to make a big announcement.

Episode 84

Yuval Noah Harari Thinks Life Is Meaningless and Amazing

The author of Sapiens has a knack for finding the profound in the obvious. He tells Steve why money is fiction, traffic can be mind-blowing, and politicians have a right…

Episode 81

Why Bother Searching for Aliens?

Astronomer Jill Tarter spent her career searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. She explains what civilizations from other planets could teach us about our own future….

Episode 73

Turning Work into Play

How psychologist Dan Gilbert went from high school dropout to Harvard professor, found the secret of joy, and inspired Steve Levitt’s divorce….

A Traffic Sign for John C. Calhoun

…“State”? Here’s a question for Steven Pinker. Why would the sign sound wrong if we left out the adjective “state”? Seatbelt billboards often say that wearing seatbelts is “not just…

A day in the life of Freakonomics email

…disentangle my way through the book. 2. Page 155, second paragraph, claims author Steven Pinker wrote the following in his own book, Blank Slate: “Patients in traditional forms of psychotherapy…

Episode 301

What Would Be the Best Universal Language? (Earth 2.0 Series)

We explore votes for English, Indonesian and … Esperanto! The search for a common language goes back millennia, but so much still gets lost in translation. Will technology finally solve…

Episode 72

“Leaving Black People in the Lurch”

Linguist and social commentator John McWhorter explains how good intentions may be hurting Black America — and where the word “motherf*cker” comes from….

Episode 20

Should We Separate the Art From the Artist?

Also: What is the meaning of life?…

Episode 540

Swearing Is More Important Than You Think

Every language has its taboo words (which many people use all the time). But the list of forbidden words is always changing — and those changes tell us some surprising…


Swearing Is More Important Than You Think [Uncensored]

Every language has its taboo words (which many people use all the time). But the list of forbidden words is always changing — and those changes tell us some surprising…

Episode 145

What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common?

Spontaneous order is everywhere if you know where to look for it.