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After struggling to schedule his own toddler’s flu shot, @AnupamBJena discovered that the time of year kids are born has a dramatic effect on whether they and their families get the flu. Bapu explains his findings and asks what could be done.
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Our friend Stephen Dubner, author and @Freakonomics radio host, joins us this week for a conversation about kids and public policy. Listen in on @Spotify to learn more about how long-term thinking could help us make better policy for kids ➡️
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When social psychologist @RoyFBaumeister first started researching the power of bad over good, he tried looking for exceptions. The only problem? He couldn't find one.
This week on No Stupid Questions: Why do we buy things we’ll never use? Also: why do we hoard?
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“If you’re late for one meeting, you don’t make up for it by showing up early the next time,” says journalist @JohnTierneyNYC. Find out why on this week’s episode, from our archives:
Dr. Bapu Jena on why Freakonomics is the best medicine. This week on People I (Mostly) Admire:
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Do you ever find yourself in an endless cycle of negative thinking? If so, you’re normal! At least that’s what the psychologists tell us. Find out why that’s the case on this week’s episode:
“If chickens had a concept of heaven, what would it be? It would be roosters and lots of corn,” reflects @DBtodomundo. “And you realize, my perspective is just one of many.” Listen now for the full story:
Why are kids with summer birthdays more likely to get the flu? This week on Freakonomics, M.D.
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In their book "The Power of Bad," @JohnTierneyNYC and @RoyFBaumeister suggest that it takes roughly four good events to outweigh one bad one. What does this mean for romantic relationships, work, or parenting?
Stephen Dubner: “How do you not let the possibility of negative response affect what you want to do next?” @DBtodomundo: “I tend to think long-range.” Hear their conversation on this week’s episode:
Alicia Grandjean, a software engineer at BBC, was surprised that 32% of people worldwide intentionally ignore the news, often because it has a negative effect on their mood. So she came up with an experimental tool to help.
David Byrne @DBtodomundo found himself getting dragged down by depressing news, so he started collecting positive stories. This grew into @RTB_Cheerful, a magazine that highlights potential solutions for big problems.
How can we overcome our impulse towards negativity? When it comes to news and social media, journalist @JohnTierneyNYC recommends a “low-bad diet” — less back-and-forth political screeching, more science and history.
Negativity bias has adaptive roots — it evolved to help keep our ancestors alive. “Life has to win every day,” explains social psychologist @RoyFBaumeister. “Death only has to win once." How does it operate in the 21st century? Listen now:
Stephen Dubner: “What do you think is more likely: that men will become nicer or that women will become less penalized when they're not being nice?” @angeladuckw: “I think men are already becoming nicer.” Do you agree? Listen to their full convo now:
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“We couldn’t find exceptions,” says psychologist @RoyFBaumeister. “All different methods and all different sorts of phenomena keep pointing to the same conclusion: the mind overreacts to bad relative to good.” What’s the cost of this negativity bias?
How can putting yourself in the mind of a chicken help you see the glass as half full? David Byrne, @DBtodomundo, shares his theory.
“I basically never paid any attention to personal finance until I was age 40.” Today, @haroldpollack is a personal-finance guru, keynoting financial conferences in Vegas. What happened? Hear his conversation with @StevenDLevitt:
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On this week’s episode, Stephen and @angeladuckw — both bestselling authors — debate the inherent value of reading books versus consuming other forms of media … like listening to podcasts.
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“Life has gotten so much safer than it ever was. It’s so much more peaceful than it ever was. And yet we still have this ancient reaction to catastrophize and imagine the worst,” says journalist @JohnTierneyNYC. Find out how to fight the bias:
Readers are drawn to bad news, which explains the journalism truism: "If it bleeds, it leads." But why does this work so well? Find out on this week’s episode:
Reasons to Be Cheerful. This week, an episode from the Freakonomics Radio archives:
.@haroldpollack is a soft-spoken @UChicago public policy professor who, through a series of unlikely events, has become an expert on taking back control of your personal finances. Hear his story now:
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The bad news: “We have probably been understating the losses from air pollution by about 50%,” says @UChiEnergy director Michael Greenstone. The opportunity: “That would imply that the benefits of reducing air pollution are 50 percent larger.”
In each ep of Freakonomics, M.D., @AnupamBJena dissects a question at the sweet spot between health and economics. This week: Does having more information mean a patient will make better choices? And what if that patient … also happens to be a doctor?
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Air pollution can be invisible to the naked eye — and so can the scope of its impacts. It’s not just about your lungs. Find out how air pollution affects your cognitive abilities:
This week on No Stupid Questions: Are women required to be nicer than men? Also: should you feel guilty if you don’t read books?
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“One of the few things I have left is the belief that my brain still works,” says @StevenDLevitt. “If you take that from me, I'm going to be really upset.” This week, the Freakonomics co-authors and @angeladuckw put their cognitive function to the test.
Harold Pollack on why managing your money is as easy as taking out the garbage. This week on People I (Mostly) Admire:
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What could be worse for human life expectancy than cigarette smoking, wars, and car accidents? Listen to the latest episode of Freakonomics Radio to find out. (Hint: You probably encounter it every day…)
Don’t miss Stephen going head-to-head with Freakonomics friends @StevenDLevitt of @MostlyAdmiring and @angeladuckw of @NSQ_Show on this week’s episode! Who will win … and why? You might be surprised.
Does having more health information actually change behavior? To test this question, host @AnupamBJena explores whether doctors make healthier choices than the rest of us (and he fesses up to an unhealthy habit of his own).
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“I think air pollution is the greatest single threat to human health on the planet.” — Michael Greenstone, @UChicago economist, @UChiEnergy director, and @impact_lab co-director, on this week’s episode. Listen now to find out why:
We know that air pollution is dangerous to our physical health. But how big are the cognitive impacts of air pollution? Probably way more than you’re thinking. Find out now:
The economic costs of air pollution are massive: one estimate puts it at nearly $3 trillion a year, more than 3% of global GDP. And according to new studies: it harms not only our bodies, but also our brains. Listen now to learn how:
The U.S. has relatively low-pollution — in part because we’ve offshored so much manufacturing, and the pollution that goes with it. Still, most Americans breathe polluted air. How concerned should we be?
You can’t tell just by looking at the sky whether the air you’re breathing is polluted. But the odds are that it is: the @WHO estimates that 90% of people worldwide breathe polluted air. How does that affect our brains?
One study shows that umpires made more mistakes when facing high pollution levels. Find out how air pollution may affect your cognitive ability on this week’s episode:
Do As Docs Say, Not As They Do. This week on Freakonomics, M.D.
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Is it possible that on a given day, pollution can affect your cognitive abilities? “I can't say I've heard many more theories that would surprise me more if they were true.” — @StevenDLevitt. Find out on the latest episode of Freakonomics Radio!
It’s well-established that air pollution has significant negative effects on the body. But can pollution also affect your brain? Find out on this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio:
A new @nberpubs working paper argues that a program to curtail opioid use among military veterans has led to an increase in veteran suicides, concentrated in rural areas:
“It's worse than cigarette smoking. It's worse than wars. It's worse than auto accidents.” What is Michael Greenstone, @UChicago economist/@UChiEnergy director/@impact_lab co-director, describing? The impact of AIR POLLUTION on life expectancy.
Air pollution causes 7 million deaths a year and costs the global economy $3 trillion. But is the true cost even higher? Stephen explores the links between pollution and cognitive function, and enlists @StevenDLevitt and @angeladuckw in a DIY experiment.
This Is Your Brain on Pollution. This week on Freakonomics Radio:
“Many Americans don't realize that America moves a much larger share of its goods by rail than Europe does,” says @Harvard economist Ed Glaeser. “In fact, in many ways we are a rail-intensive country. We just aren't intensive in moving people by rail.”
China currently spends 8% of its GDP on infrastructure — over 3x the U.S. share of 2.4%. “They're not spending these kinds of resources on infrastructure because the Chinese Communist Party is a bunch of transportation nerds like me,” says @PeteButtigieg
Does anyone recall a stunt from years ago where a group stuck coupons redeemable for cash in the middle of prize-winning books? The goal was to see how many people would read far enough to find the coupon and redeem the money. We need help tracking down the details!
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“Do we need a train between Chicago and Milwaukee? Or would we be better off with a dedicated lane that only runs autonomous buses and autonomous cars, wired in a way that keeps them all apart and lets them run 150 miles an hour?” — economist Ed Glaeser
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