Freakonomics Week

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How much do parents really matter? And are we sure winners never quit and quitters never win? Stephen J. Dubner, host of Freakonomics Radio and co-author, with Steven D. Levitt, of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, talks about the unexpected economics behind issues like parenthood and quitting.


Stephen J. Dubner

Comments [15]

Sara from NYC

What a terrific example of the tea kettle calling the coffee pot black: economist calling out other prognosticators as false prophets ...

Jun. 28 2011 12:18 PM
Vlad from Central New Jerset

Regarding world suicide rates. Most of the former Soviet Union countries have the highest suicide rates in the world. Then why does Georgia, a country right in the heart of the world' worst, have one of the world's lowest? I think it's the water. Georgia's bottled spring water is supposed to have special effects. At first I thought this was a joke. But the water is one of their biggest exports.

Jun. 28 2011 12:11 PM
Phil Henshaw from way uptown

This is completely crazy Brian, that the suicide rate of developed societies has nothing to do with high stress and high risks of competitive social and business struggles, but concerns only "getting your stuff" ???

Economists have a talent for numbers, but unless they get help from someone who studies the real world they are happy to go with completely mad suppositions. I mean, who on earth is STILL PLANNING ON our having an infinite earth, for crying out loud.

If you want your listeners to learn something about the odd statistics economists come across, great for starting conversations maybe, for heavens sake have someone who studies the subject referred to comment.

Jun. 28 2011 12:03 PM
Liz Hollander from Queens NY

Predictions: My favorite accurate prediction was Laugh-In's news spoof in 1968 beginning a segment with the words President Ronald Reagan -- and pausing for the thirty seconds of laughter. Dunno about the pro's, but Satirists are often vindicated.

Pessimism: Dubner's casual assessment of the world being a better place than 100 years ago is typical of knee-jerk progressivism (in the old sense) -- Let him factor in mass murder, water availability, environmental quality, and he'll find little change.

Parents: Passive factors (like the disposition to want your children, also the educational level, general habits, etc) rather than active pursuits are the most influential aspects of being a parent (note that I do not use the active verb). It has less to do with time spent, even, and than with the general atomosphere of the household. Present or absent, the parents are responsible for it. Other influences on children -- peers, teachers, are vastly underrated.

Jun. 28 2011 12:02 PM

Doesn't he understand that predicting future average temperature in 100 years is not the same as predicting if some rain cloud is going to float over Manhattan instead of Staten Island on Tuesday? This kind of "Scientific Republicanism" is like going to an Intelligent Design class. Bleh.

Jun. 28 2011 11:53 AM
Ken from Soho

O.K., so WHAT IS "Freakonomics"? Freaky economics, or economics of freaks?

Jun. 28 2011 11:53 AM

As usual, Dubner has no problem letting his librtarian/futurist beliefs lead him to talking out of his a**.

The conditions which lead to judging climate change is not comparable to weather forecasting.

His general belief in invincibile progress does not address the evidence that pessimists judge particular discrete situations better than optimists.

Jun. 28 2011 11:49 AM
Marcelo from Park Slope

In the mid nineties I predicted that we were heading into an era in which we would no longer call a 'place' over the phone to see if the person was there. Instead we would gradually move into a world where we would call that person directly. Seems so ubiquitous today, but back then it was a wild concept.

Jun. 28 2011 11:47 AM
Bill from Hempstead, NY

They say the only thing we know for sure is that there will be Death and Taxes.... I have this pet theory that life is inevitable as well... as a consequence of the complexity....perhaps related to the level of complexity....thoughts?

Jun. 28 2011 11:44 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

So Freakonomics is a form of infotainment? We saw what went on in
08 using economic's data gathering system.
3 cheers for that BS.

Jun. 28 2011 11:44 AM
Patrick from NJ

So what should we do to weather men/women that get their predictions wrong? Accountability!?!?!?!?! Should we fire them? Should we hunt them down and murder them? Maybe we should just get rid of them so when a blizzard is approaching, or a tornado, or a hurricane, we can consult the town mystic who can make weather predictions for us!!!

Jun. 28 2011 11:43 AM
JC Brotherhood from Nyck

Pessimists have the advantage of being pleasantly surprised more often than not

Jun. 28 2011 11:42 AM

Brian - any *good* Tarot reader (the end t is silent btw) will tell you it's not about prediction, it's about insight.

Jun. 28 2011 11:38 AM
telegram sam from Staten Island

Does the guest read Nicholas Taleb? This research is very similar to Taleb's Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan.

Jun. 28 2011 11:38 AM
Paul from NYC/Northern NJ

In the absence of data, there are NO statistics. I love it when people say they "could have" predicted this or that (baseball history is a good one), given the data. Well, duh.

Jun. 28 2011 11:32 AM

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