Just like the books Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, Freakonomics Radio will explore "the hidden side of everything." It will tell you things you always thought you knew but didn't, and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do.
What do Renaissance painting, civil-rights movements, and Olympic cycling have in common? In each case, huge breakthroughs came from taking tiny steps. In a world where everyone is looking for the next moonshot, we shouldn't ignore the power of incrementalism.
For soccer fans, it's easy. For the rest of us? Not so much, especially since the U.S. team didn't qualify. So here's what to watch for even if you have no team to root for. Because the World Cup isn't just a gargantuan sporting event; it's a microcosm of human foibles and (yep) economic theory brought to life.
We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it's hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City ? and tried to bring the Olympics there ? is now C.E.O. of a Google-funded startup that is building, from scratch, the city of the future.
Pharmaceutical firms donate an enormous amount of their products (and some cash too). But it doesn't seem to be helping their reputation. We ask Pfizer's generosity chief why the company gives so much, who it really helps, and whether all this philanthropy is just corporate whitewashing.
Corporate Social Responsibility programs can attract better job applicants who'll work for less money. But they also encourage employees to misbehave. Don't laugh ? you too probably engage in "moral licensing," even if you don't know it.
We all like to throw around terms that describe human behavior ? "bystander apathy" and "steep learning curve" and "hard-wired." Most of the time, they don't actually mean what we think they mean. But don't worry ? the experts are getting it wrong, too.
A breakthrough in genetic technology has given humans more power than ever to change nature. It could help eliminate hunger and disease; it could also lead to the sort of dystopia we used to only read about in sci-fi novels. So what happens next?
Sure, medical progress has been astounding. But today the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country, with so-so outcomes. Atul Gawande ? cancer surgeon, public-health researcher, and best-selling author ? has some simple ideas for treating a painfully complex system.
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explains the thinking behind the controversial new Republican tax package ? and why its critics are wrong. (Next week, we'll hear from the critics.)