Why is six scared of seven? Because seven, eight, nine. Jokes like this are only one example of the ways that we humans like to assign personality traits to the numbers that dictate our world. Today on Word of Mouth we explore this seemingly universal tendency to create emotional associations with numbers. Then, is tipping culturally determined? Freakonomics investigates the nuances of tipping in the United States with the help of Cornell professor Michael Lynn. Plus, Botox is well known for freezing the faces of many a Hollywood starlet, but how about freezing out negative emotions? We hear from journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner about how Botox is being used to treat depression.
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We spoke with Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner about three issues that have been dominating headlines lately. In case you’ve missed them and need to catch up quickly, we’ve compiled the highlights so you can be a champion of serious water-cooler discussions.
The major take-away? Dubner urges you to think like a freak, and to listen to more public radio.
The world cup kicks off in Sao Paulo this Thursday amid controversy, corruption, and protest. Today, a profile of the neuroscientist behind a bionic exoskeleton that will make a miraculous kickoff at the world cup possible. But first, Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freaknomics, explains some of the decisions that are part of playing in the world cup. And then, a conversation with Ruth Graham, who triggered a fury among young adult fans by claiming "Adults should be embarrassed about reading literature for children".
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In this episode, Stephen Dubner focuses on an experimental procedure called the fecal transplant. This procedure is sort of combination of organ transplant and blood transfusion that may present a viable way to treat not only intestinal problems but also obesity and a number of neurological disorders. We'll talk to two doctors at the vanguard of this procedure and a patient who says it changed his life. Also: we've all heard our share of poignant and loving eulogies, but what if the deceased was a real jerk?
In this episode, Stephen Dubner breaks down the costs and benefits of going to college, especially during an economy that's leaving a lot of people un- and underemployed. The data say that college graduates make a lot more money in the long run and enjoy a host of other benefits as well. But does that justify the time and money? We'll hear from economists David Card, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers, as well as former Bush advisor Karl Rove, who made it to the White House without a college degree.
The first part of this episode, Stephen Dubner looks at this and other examples of weird recycling. We hear the story of MedWish, a Cleveland non-profit that sends unused or outdated hospital equipment – from gauze and tongue depressors to beds and x-ray machines – to hospitals in poor countries. We also hear Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold describe a new nuclear-power reactor that runs on radioactive waste. Also in this hour: we look at the strange moments when knowledge is not power.