How to Think Like a Freak

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  • Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques


    Communication is critical to success in business and life. Concerned about an upcoming interview? Anxious about being asked to give your thoughts during a meeting? Fearful about needing to provide critical feedback in the moment? You are not alone! Learn and practice techniques that will help you speak spontaneously with greater confidence and clarity, regardless of content and context.

    Recorded on October 25, 2014, in collaboration with the Stanford Alumni Association as part of Stanford Reunion Homecoming and the Graduate School of Business Fall Reunion/Alumni Weekend.

    Speaker: Matt Abrahams, ’91 Matt Abrahams is a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching strategic communication; he also teaches public speaking in Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program.

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    Think Small to Solve Big Problems, with Stephen Dubner


    Stephen Dubner talks about the importance of thinking small in order to tackle some of the world's biggest problems piece by piece. Dubner is the co-author of Think Like a Freak (

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    Transcript: One argument that we make is that we could all benefit a little bit from thinking more like children, okay. Now you could say well, we're -- first of all everybody's biased in a lot of ways and we have our set of biases too. It may be that we embrace the idea in this book of thinking like children because we're kind of, you know, childlike. We have kind of obvious observations sometimes. There's observations that strike people as obvious. We ask a lot of questions that are not considered, you know, the kind of questions that people ask in good company or smart company. But one of the most powerful pieces of thinking like a child that we argue is thinking small. So I realize that this runs exactly counter to the philosophy of the arena in which I'm appearing which is thinking big, Big Think, but our argument is this. Big problems are by their nature really hard to solve for a variety of reasons. One is they're large and therefore they include a lot of people and therefore they include a lot of crossed and often mangled and perverse incentives.

    But also a big problem -- when you think about a big problem like the education reform. You're dealing with an institution or set of institutions that have gotten to where they've gotten to this many, many years of calcification and also accidents of history. What I mean by that is things have gotten the way they've gotten because of a lot of things a few people did many, many years ago and traditions were carried on. And now to suddenly change that would mean changing the entire stream of the way that this institution has functioned for many years. Therefore, attacking any big problem is bound to be really hard and the danger is you spend a lot of resources -- time, money, manpower, optimism which is perhaps one of our most precious resources attacking a problem that you can't make any headway on. So I mean, you know, history is littered with brilliant people who have attacked large problems in the past half century, century among them famine, among them poverty and most recently I think education reform, a healthy diet and so on. So these are all really big problems.

    So our argument is -- you know what? There's a lot of people out there thinking big. Maybe some of them will be successful. Probably not so many honestly. It's very, very hard. Our argument is -- you know what? Let the people who are gonna try to think big solve big problems -- let them go. There's enough people doing that. Why don't you just try to think small. Why don't you try to find one piece of the problem that you can identify and peel it off and try to solve that problem or answer that question. So there are a lot of reasons why it's better to do that. It's easier to satisfactorily answer a small question or solve a big problem because you can get the data, you can understand the incentives, it's just inherently much less complicated. If you can come up with a solution to a small problem there's a much better chance you'll actually be able to get it done. A lot of people feel like they come up with the answers to big problems but then you need to get all the political and capital will to do it. And that can be much harder than actually solving the problem.

    So if you can peel off a small piece of a problem and then someone else peels off another small piece and you add them up, you're constantly, you know, working toward a better place. So I'll give you an example. If you think about, let's say, education reform. Even that very phrase is kind of weighted or biased toward the supply side, the schools. It's basically saying that oh, all the kids and the families who are sending their kids to school -- they're all doing exactly the right thing. But education needs to be reformed because plainly the schools and teachers and principals, they're the bad people. So that's kind of an assumption already about where the problem should be solved. So you think, you know, people have been talking about the many, many inputs that go into education -- class size, technology in the classroom, resources spent, curricula -- the way the curricula are taught and so on. [TRANSCRIPT TRUNCATED]

    Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

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    Steven J. Dubner: When to Rob a Bank | Talks at Google


    Steven J. Dubner joined us in the Google London office to talk about his new book When to Rob a Bank.

    Why don't flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?

    Over the past decade, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have published more than 8,000 blog posts on Now the very best of this writing has been carefully curated into one volume, the perfect solution for the millions of readers who love all things Freakonomics.

    Discover why taller people tend to make more money; why it's so hard to predict the Kentucky Derby winner; and why it might be time for a sex tax (if not a fat tax). You'll also learn a great deal about Levitt and Dubner's own quirks and passions. Surprising and erudite, eloquent and witty, Freaks and Friends demonstrates the brilliance that has made their books an international sensation.

    Available on Google Play -

  • Daniel Kahneman on Thinking, Fast and Slow


    Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman on his book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'



    Jim Rohn: How to think and use your mind (Jim Rohn motivation)
    Take care to feed and stimulate your brain and you will expand your mind. The two are inextricably connected. We need to see the human brain and mind with wonder, awe and inspiration.

    The brain is the equivalent of a human supercomputer. It is more complicated than any computer mankind has ever made, and maximizing its ability is essential to becoming the success you want to be—because it controls who you are. It is the command center involved in and controlling absolutely everything you do, determining how you think, feel and act.

    Take care to feed and stimulate your brain and you will expand your mind. The two are inextricably connected. We need to see the human brain and mind with wonder, awe and inspiration. The brain is the equivalent of a human supercomputer. It is more complicated than any computer mankind has ever made, and maximizing its ability is essential to becoming the success you want to be—because it controls who you are. It is the command center involved in and controlling absolutely everything you do, determining how you think, feel and act.

    Gaining knowledge is hard work and takes a lifetime to master. It is an ongoing discipline that is never complete.

    So discipline yourself through the hard work of study. Learning will take work. Until someone comes up with modules that can plug into your mind and give you instant access to knowledge, you are on your own, and that takes work. The process of learning is a long one. Yes, we can speed it up, but it is still a process of reading, listening, reviewing, repetition, applying the knowledge, experiencing the outcomes, readjusting, etc. Simply put, that takes time. Slowly but surely, when you discipline yourself, you gain knowledge and learn. And when you do, you will be unlocking the potential of your mind.

    Learning is possible, no matter what your age. You are never too young or too old. Your mind was created to learn and has a huge capacity to do so. This week, make a commitment to unlock the potential of your mind!

    Gaining knowledge is hard work and takes a lifetime to master. It is an ongoing discipline that is never complete. So discipline yourself through the hard work of study. Learning will take work. Until someone comes up with modules that can plug into your mind and give you instant access to knowledge, you are on your own, and that takes work. The process of learning is a long one. Yes, we can speed it up, but it is still a process of reading, listening, reviewing, repetition, applying the knowledge, experiencing the outcomes, readjusting, etc. Simply put, that takes time. Slowly but surely, when you discipline yourself, you gain knowledge and learn. And when you do, you will be unlocking the potential of your mind. Learning is possible, no matter what your age. You are never too young or too old. Your mind was created to learn and has a huge capacity to do so. This week, make a commitment to unlock the potential of your mind!

    Jim Rohn
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  • 7 Unhinged Christopher Hitchens Flawless Victories


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    Christopher Hitchens is perhaps the greatest intellectual of our time - provocative, insightful and courageous. Please enjoy this Mortal Kombat inspired compilation featuring the Sultan of Secularism himself Christopher Hitchens.

  • Freakonomics Radio - How to Be More Productive


    Freakonomics - How to Be More Productive

    It's Self-Improvement Month at Freakonomics Radio. We begin with a topic that seems to be on

    everyone's mind: how to get more done in less time. First, however, a warning: there's a big

    difference between being busy and being productive.

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    The freakonomics of McDonalds vs. drugs | Steven Levitt


    Freakonomics author Steven Levitt presents new data on the finances of drug dealing. Contrary to popular myth, he says, being a street-corner crack dealer isnt lucrative: It pays below minimum wage. And your boss can kill you.

    TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers are invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes -- including speakers such as Jill Bolte Taylor, Sir Ken Robinson, Hans Rosling, Al Gore and Arthur Benjamin. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, politics and the arts. Watch the Top 10 TEDTalks on, at

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    Daniel Dennett on Tools To Transform Our Thinking


    Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 22nd May 2013.

    Daniel Dennett is one of the world's most original and provocative thinkers. A philosopher and cognitive scientist, he is known as one of the 'Four Horseman of New Atheism' along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens.

    On May 22nd he came to Intelligence Squared to share the insights he has acquired over his 40-year career into the nature of how we think, decide and act. Dennett revealed his favourite thinking tools, or 'intuition pumps', that he and others have developed for addressing life's most fundamental questions. As well as taking a fresh look at familiar moves -- Occam's Razor, reductio ad absurdum -- he discussed new cognitive solutions designed for the most treacherous subject matter: evolution, meaning, consciousness and free will.

    By acquiring these tools and learning to use them wisely, we can all aspire to better understand the world around us and our place in it.

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    Make your brain smarter: its not what you think: Sandra Chapman, Ph.D. at TEDxRockCreekPark


    Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, founder and leader of the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas relates new scientific evidence that you literally can think your brain smarter and healthier. She debunks long-standing beliefs about what smart is and shares proven strategies to expand your brain span to more closely match the ever-increasing human lifespan. Whether you are young or old, Dr. Chapman will inspire you to test the limits of your own brain potential.
    Your brain is your greatest asset and natural resource. It is the most changeable part of your entire body. However, vastly more personal attention and effort are directed at improving physical health than at strengthening and regaining the highest level of brain performance. Dr. Chapman's research taps into the secret of making your brain smarter, harnessing the CEO of your brain performance - your frontal lobes. Her techniques show how to engage your frontal lobes, ignite your passion and learn to be strategic about the way you expend precious brain energy.
    From teens to corporate executives to warriors to healthy agers, as well as individuals with brain disease or injury, Dr. Chapman and her team at the Center for BrainHealth have created strategies to increase creativity, energy and focus for people of all ages. In the junior high school classroom, these strategies take a new approach to education and have improved teen reasoning ability, showing 30% gains in critical thinking across socioeconomic status. Business leaders who have embraced these healthy brain habits report increased innovation and their employees demonstrate greater productivity and efficiency. Former military service personnel have used these brain-training techniques to bridge barriers to returning to civilian society, making home life and work life markedly better. One veteran described his transformational experience as cognitive resurrection. Healthy agers and individuals debilitated by mild cognitive impairment, which is often the pre-cursor to Alzheimer's disease, showed increases in memory and other cognitive functions. Individuals with concussions or traumatic brain injury (TBI) exhibited brain repair and improved cognitive performance, even years after injury.
    Dr. Chapman's dream is that you will act now to make an investment in your brain potential and build the cognitive reserves today to ensure that your best brain years are ahead of you, not behind you.

    In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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    Extraordinary Variations of the Human Mind:Karen Berman:Neurogenetic Mechanisms in Williams Syndrome


    (Visit: Karen Berman of the National Institutes of Health explores how studying Williams Syndrome is revealing biological mechanisms that confer human variability. Recorded on 05/05/2017. Series: CARTA - Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny [Show ID: 32440]

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    Think Like A Freak by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt


    Freakonomics guys are back here at the table. The new book Think Like A Freak offers to retrain your brain you can tackle problems in a fresh fun way. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt join us once again. Freakonomics is a National best-seller, still very very popular. What is different in this book?

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    Daniel Goleman on Focus: The Secret to High Performance and Fulfilment


    Filmed at the Royal College of Music on 25th October 2013.

    Psychologist Daniel Goleman shot to fame with his groundbreaking bestseller Emotional Intelligence. The premise of the book, now widely accepted, is that raw intelligence alone is not a sure predictor of success in life. A greater role is played by 'softer' skills such as self-control, self-motivation, empathy and good interpersonal relationships.

    Now Goleman comes to Intelligence Squared for an exclusive talk on the themes of his latest book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. Attention, he will argue, is an underrated asset for high achievers in any field. Incorporating findings from neuroscience, Goleman will show why we need three kinds of focus: inner, for self-awareness; other, for the empathy that builds effective relationships; and outer, for understanding the larger systems in which organisations operate. Those who excel rely on Smart Practices such as mindfulness meditation, focused preparation and positive emotions that help improve habits, add new skills, and sustain excellence.

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    The Best of Freakonomics


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    The Best of Freakonomics with Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, moderated by Faith Salie.

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    Steven Levitt on child carseats


    Steven Levitt shares data that shows car seats are no more effective than seatbelts in protecting kids from dying in cars. However, during the Q&A;, he makes one crucial caveat.

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    Speaker: Stephen J Dubner, Professor Steven D Levitt
    This event was recorded on 9 November 2009 in Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street
    Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling 4 million copies in 35 languages. Now, four years in the making, arrives the follow up: SuperFreakonomics|. Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner return with a book that is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first. Freakonomics made the world safe to discuss the economics of crack cocaine and the impact of baby names. SuperFreakonomics| retains that off-kilter sensibility (comparing, for instance, the relative dangers of driving while drunk versus walking while drunk) but also tackles a host of issues at the very centre of modern society: terrorism, global warming, altruism, and more.

  • Young And Thinking Marriage? | Making Decisions From A Place of Joy


    We spoke about being young and getting married in my live group chat. I wanted to just commentate about this while talking about making decisions from a place of joy.

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    Young And Thinking Marriage? | Making Decisions From A Place of Joy
    Young And Thinking Marriage? | Making Decisions From A Place of Joy
    Young And Thinking Marriage? | Making Decisions From A Place of Joy
    Young And Thinking Marriage? | Making Decisions From A Place of Joy
    Young And Thinking Marriage? | Making Decisions From A Place of Joy

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    If You Think You Are Going Nowhere In Life, Take A Deep Breath And Watch This


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    If you think you are going nowhere in life, take a deep breath and watch this. In this video, I talk about how to create the future that you desire. It is so important that you accept that the past is ancient history. It’s okay to remember your past, but don’t live in it. It does not dictate or determine your future in any way, unless you allow it to.

    When I was 17 years old I didn’t think that my life was going anywhere – I was shy, depressed, lonely, and I was addicted to video games. I let my life pass me by because I wasn’t focused on creating the future that I desired. This was a big mistake. As soon as you start thinking for your future, and not just doing what is convenient and comfortable, your life changes.

    If you think you are going nowhere in life, drop that story. The beauty of life is that, at any given moment, you have the power to make a change. If you want to invest in your future, you need to start learning and growing. When you do so, it opens up your mind to new possibilities and opportunities. Jim Rohn said it best, “If you want to have more, you need to become more.”

    If you think you are going nowhere in life, take a deep breath and watch this. There is no better time than now to take a risk, push your comfort zone, and become the person that you desire to be. Are you ready?

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    Stephen Fry & friends on the life, loves and hates of Christopher Hitchens - IQ2 talks


    In this historic event, Stephen Fry and other friends of Christopher Hitchens came together to celebrate the life and work of this great writer, iconoclast and debater. Fry was joined on stage at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall by Richard Dawkins and the two discussed Hitch's unflinching commitment to the truth. Hollywood actor Sean Penn was beamed in from LA by Google+ and, between cigarette puffs, read from Hitch's acclaimed work, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Five friends of Hitch spoke via satellite in New York: satirist Christopher Buckley and editor Lewis Lapham mused on Hitch's prowess as a journalist. 'Like a pot of gold', said Lapham. Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and James Fenton delighted the audience with stories of Hitchens as a young man. Rushdie drew roars of laughter when he recounted a word game invented by Amis and Hitchens where the word 'love' is replaced with 'hysterical sex'. Particular favourites included Hysterical Sex in the Time of Cholera and Hysterical Sex Is All You Need.

    Watching the event with Hitch at his bedside in Texas, Hitch's wife Carol and novelist Ian McEwan provided an email commentary. 'His Rolls Royce mind is still purring beautifully', typed McEwan.

    The event was watched live by 2500 at the venue, and by thousands more in UK cinemas and online.

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    Retrain Your Brain


    Stephen Dubner, co-author of Think Like a Freak, discusses how to challenge conventional thinking and improve your decision-making. More:

  • Think Like a Freak Stephen Dubner Keynote Highlights - Unify Tech 14


    Stephen Dubner, bestselling author of Freakonomics and the upcoming Think Like a Freak, delivers the keynote address at Unify Tech '14.

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    Beyond Freakonomics: New Musings on the Economics of Everyday Life


    Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics and professor in economics at the University of Chicago, discusses his latest research

    (Sep 27, 2006 at Princeton University)

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    Book Summary: Freakonomics part 1 by Steven D. Levitt


    A summary of the book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt

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    Western parents dont know how to bring up their children


    Why are there so many Chinese maths and music prodigies? Because Chinese mothers believe schoolwork and music practice come first, that an A-minus is a bad grade, that sleepovers, TV and computer games should never be allowed and that the only activities their children should be permitted to do are ones in which they can eventually win a medal -- and that medal must be gold.

    These methods certainly seem to get results, so perhaps western parents should start being more pushy with their children. But is it defensible to cajole and bully one's offspring to success? Isn't it better to be raising happy, rounded individuals rather than burnt-out brainboxes? Who's right and who's wrong?

    In this debate from 2011, Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, takes on Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, the phenomenally successful parenting website.

  • Heart Disease Is The Most Common Cause Of Death In The United States by Baxter Montgomery, M D


    Dr. Montgomery will discuss the specifics on how food can be integrated into the clinical practice on a routine basis.

    Connect with The Real Truth About Health

    Passionate believers in whole food plant based diets, no chemicals, minimal pharmaceutical drugs, no GMO's. Fighting to stop climate change and extinction.

  • 7 Times Atheists Went Unhinged Genius


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    The courageous stance of atheism in the face of a begrudging society shows intellectual maturity and independence, as well as a careful consideration of the truth. Please enjoy these seven genius moments featuring our favorite atheists, agnostics and non-believers.

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    Vladimir Pozner and Michael Hayden on Good Morning Britain


    Filmed on 8th June 2017.

    Vladimir Pozner and Michael Hayden appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain before they took to the Intelligence Squared stage in our debate It's time to bring Russia in from the cold. Full video from that debate will be available soon.

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    Abortions and Crime: Freakonomics Movie


    Levitt takes you through his research on the relationship between dropping crime and the legalization of abortion.

    Clip from the 2010 documentary Freakonomics: The Movie. A dream team of directors explore the hidden side of everything.

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    Nate Silver on the Art and Science of Prediction


    Nate Silver is the 35-year-old data engineer and forecaster with superstar status. He shot to fame in 2008 for correctly predicting the outcome in 49 out of 50 states in the US presidential election. In 2012, when most media pundits and political analysts claimed the US election was too close to call, Silver trumped them all again, giving Obama a 92% chance of winning. Barack Obama has called him my rock, my foundation, and Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times described him as our age's Brunel.

    On April 30th he came to Intelligence Squared to discuss the themes of his latest book, 'The Signal and the Noise'. We hear endlessly about Big Data, but when the quantity of data in our world is increasing by 2.5 quintillion bytes per day how can we find the signal in all the noise, the nugget of information that will help us make sense of it all, or maybe even predict the future? Silver explained how expert forecasters think, and describe what lies behind their success, covering the stock market, the poker table, politics, sports, earthquakes, the weather and disease control. With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our forecasts, never has it been more vital to know how to distinguish true insights from the noise of useless data.

    'Lord and God of the algorithm!' -- Jon Stewart, Daily Show
    'The Galileo of number crunchers' -- The Independent
    'A new kind of political superstar' -- The Observer
    'A 34-year-old Delphic Oracle' -- The Daily Beast

  • The Making of a Manchurian Candidate-Technology Now Exists That Can Implant and Remove Thoughts


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  • Freakonomics Movie Trailer Official


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    Freakonomics hits theaters on October 1st, 2010.

    FREAKONOMICS is the highly anticipated film version of the phenomenally bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Like the book, the film examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies, bringing together a dream team of filmmakers responsible for some of the most acclaimed and entertaining documentaries in recent years: Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Casino Jack and the United States of Money), Academy Award® nominees Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Academy Award® nominee Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong).

    Freakonomics trailer courtesy Magnolia Pictures.

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    The Monkey Economy: Freakonomics Radio Live in St. Paul


    Stephen Dubner describes the research of Keith Chen and his experiments with the monkey economy. Monkeys were taught to use money by economists to buy different commodities, hilarity ensues.

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    Daniel Goleman: Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence | Talks at Google


    In Focus, Psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman, author of the #1 international bestseller Emotional Intelligence, offers a groundbreaking look at today's scarcest resource and the secret to high performance and fulfillment: attention.

    Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to survive in a complex world.

    Goleman boils down attention research into a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. Drawing on rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business, he shows why high-achievers need all three kinds of focus, and explains how those who rely on Smart Practices—mindfulness meditation, focused preparation and recovery, positive emotions and connections, and mental prosthetics that help them improve habits, add new skills, and sustain greatness—excel while others do not.

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    Jeffrey Sachs on America and a New World Order


    ‘America first!’ Donald Trump hammered out this message over and again in his inauguration speech a week ago today. He promised tariffs, a crackdown on immigration, and a restoration of American military might. He entered the White House as the least popular incoming president in 40 years.

    Not every liberal thinker, however, is in a state of despair. Jeffrey Sachs was recently ranked by The Economist as one of the world’s most influential political scientists. No Trump supporter himself, he came to the Intelligence Squared stage to explain why there may be silver linings to the Trump cloud, and to set out a new world order.

    Take trade. Trump has threatened to tear up Nafta and slam huge taxes on Mexican imports, and has already withdrawn the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to bring jobs back to the heartlands of America. While this strikes fear amongst free-trade supporters, there is a case to be made that globalisation has been moving faster than is politically sustainable, dividing rich from poor.
    Or take Trump’s proposal to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure. Sachs has described this promise to rebuild America’s decrepit inner cities, highways, schools and hospitals as ‘a valid, indeed uplifting perspective’, provided it is done in a smart and fair way. Trump’s programme could be viewed as a Keynesian fiscal policy to boost competitiveness and job creation. It may, Sachs believes, be Trump’s great legacy.

    And then there’s foreign policy. As Sachs pointed out, Trump has filled his administration not just with protectionists but also with business people like himself, who enjoy making a buck (in fact, billions of them) and who have profitably invested for years in Russia, China, and other emerging economies. So while the rhetoric may be all about American primacy and trade protection, we shouldn’t rule out some friendly deal-making with other countries. And while Trump’s future relations with Vladimir Putin remain obscure, would it necessarily be a dangerous move if he pursues a conciliatory line with Russia? From a Russian perspective, America’s meddling in Ukraine and its attempts to bring that country into NATO, which would take the US-led military alliance right up to Russia’s border, look like aggression in its own historical sphere of influence. Isn’t it time there were a better understanding between both countries?

    Sachs argued that we are entering not a new tripolar world, dominated by the US, China and Russia, but what he calls ‘the World Century’, in which the rapid spread of technology and the sovereignty of nation states mean that no single country or region will dominate the world. For Sachs, the great foreign policy challenge will be to manage cooperation among regions, and face up to our common environmental and health crises. The idea that one place or people should have primacy over any other should be as antiquated as slavery or empire, and guard us against the senseless descent into violence.

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    Student loans and debt: Kirsty Wark quizzes Jo Johnson - BBC Newsnight


    Is it fair at students leave university now with thousands of pounds of debt? Kirsty Wark quizzes Universities Minister Jo Johnson.

    Newsnight is the BBC's flagship news and current affairs TV programme - with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews.


  • It’s time to bring Russia in from the cold: Rapprochement is in the Wests best interests


    Isn’t it time we took a more intelligent approach to Russia? You don’t have to be a fan of Vladimir Putin or support his invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea to see that an accommodation with Russia might be a good thing. Many would argue that it’s the West that is to blame for the bad blood between Russia and the West in the first place. Ever since the Wall came down, NATO has been expanding eastwards without any regard for Russia’s security interests. Russia’s actions may appear aggressive and expansionist to us, but in Moscow they are seen as a defensive strategy. Surely it is in everyone’s best interests if we understand that. As for the recent US airstrikes on Syria, Trump may have wanted to look tough on the world stage, but the conciliatory line he took towards Russia during his campaign was far more constructive. It’s easy to paint President Putin as the bad guy here, propping up the murderous Assad, but his main aim is to end the civil war in Syria and defeat ISIS. Does the West have anything better to offer?

    That’s the case for improving relations with Russia. But should we come to an accommodation with a foreign power which threatens our Eastern European partners and goes so far as to meddle in last year’s US presidential election? The problem is not that the West has been too expansionist towards Russia, but that it hasn’t stood up to Putin’s aggressions. After failing to act over Ukraine and Crimea, the West is now confronted by an emboldened Russia which is helping Assad wreak destruction against captive Syrian civilians, and trying to destabilise Europe at this volatile moment by cultivating populists such as Marine Le Pen and extremist groups sympathetic to its interests. Russia is an unpredictable, dangerous power and should be kept at arm’s length.

    For this major debate, Intelligence Squared put together a stellar line-up. Making the case for rapprochement with Russia were Vladimir Pozner, one of Russia’s best known television journalists and a former advocate for the Soviet Union, and Domitilla Sagramoso, a leading expert on security in Russia; arguing against them were Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, and Radek Sikorski, who was Poland’s foreign minister from 2007 to 2014.

  • We Should Not Be Reluctant to Assert the Superiority of Western Values


    Filmed at the Royal Geographical society on 9th October 2007.

    For the motion: Douglas Murray, David Aaronovitch, Ibn Warraq
    Against the motion: Tariq Ramadan, William Dalrymple, Charles Glass
    Chair: Edward Lucas

  • Steven Pinker on Good Writing, with Ian McEwan


    Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 25th September 2014.

    Steven Pinker is one of the world’s leading authorities on language, mind and human nature. A professor of psychology at Harvard, he is the bestselling author of eight books and regularly appears in lists of the world’s top 100 thinkers.

    On September 25th 2014 he returned to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his latest publication 'The Sense of Style', a short and entertaining writing guide for the 21st century. Pinker will argue that bad writing can’t be blamed on the internet, or on “the kids today”. Good writing has always been hard: a performance requiring pretence, empathy, and a drive for coherence. He answered questions such as: how can we overcome the “curse of knowledge”, the difficulty in imagining what it’s like not to know something we do? And how can we distinguish the myths and superstitions about language from helpful rules that enhance clarity and grace? Pinker showed how everyone can improve their mastery of writing and their appreciation of the art.

    Professor Pinker was in conversation with Ian McEwan, one of Britain’s most acclaimed novelists, who has frequently explored the common ground between art and science.

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    White Names vs. Black Names: Freakonomics Movie


    What's in a name? Roland Fryer explains the bifurcation of naming in Caucasian communities and black communities.

    Clip from the 2010 documentary Freakonomics: The Movie. A dream team of directors explore the hidden side of everything.

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    Steven Levitt, Sackler Big Data Colloquium


    Thinking Differently About Big Data

    This talk was given as part of the National Academy of Sciences Sackler Colloquium Drawing Causal Inference from Big Data in Washington, D.C. on March 26-27, 2015.

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    Nassim Nicholas Taleb - The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


    Nassim Nicholas Taleb, expert on risk and randomness, discusses The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, presented by Harvard Book Store. Nassim Nicholas Taleb defines a black swan as a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. Black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives. How can this phenomenon be better recognized and understood? This lecture contains strong language.

    More lectures at

    This talk was taped on May 19, 2010.

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    Think like a freak Business book review


    Don't have time to choose a book to read. Let us review business books for you so you can concentrate on running your business. This week, Think like a freak. In this video I will talk about the key messages in the book and whether you should read it and how it can help you.

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    Brexit: What Next?


    Filmed at the Emmanuel Centre on 4th July 2016.

    The UK has made the momentous decision to leave the EU. On Monday July 4th Intelligence Squared staged an emergency event to discuss the ramifications. A panel including Douglas Carswell, Jonathan Freedland, Josef Janning, Liz Kendall, Anand Menon and Adair Turner examined:

    What kind of deal can we expect to get? Will the EU play tough with us in order to stop anti-EU contagion spreading to other member states? Or will Brexit be the wake-up call Europe needs to achieve real reform?

    Will the Brexit camp be able to deliver on its promises – on immigration, NHS spending etc? If not, will there be a backlash from the voters?

    Will we lose Scotland?

    Will George Osborne’s dire warnings about the economy be borne out?

    Is the second referendum which some Remainers are petitioning for a real possibility?

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    Trump is making America great again


    After the first 100 days of Trump's presidency, things couldn’t be worse. His administration has been more gaffe-prone, incompetent and unstable than any other in American history. Trump has been engulfed in a scandal over his campaign’s links to Russia, his first choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign within weeks, and other senior officials remain under investigation for dodgy dealings with the Kremlin. And what of Trump’s key policies? Despite a Republican majority, his efforts to repeal Obamacare foundered in Congress, while his controversial ‘travel ban’ was deemed unconstitutional and blocked twice in the courts. Meanwhile, Trump has kept busy bragging about the size of his inauguration crowd and tweeting crackpot wiretapping allegations. And when it comes to foreign policy, he has been just as reckless and haphazard as his critics predicted. He has flip-flopped on NATO and has taken a bizarrely belligerent stance against longstanding allies such as Germany and Mexico. Make America great again? Quite the reverse – Trump is leading the USA towards disaster and decline.

    That’s the hand-wringing liberals’ view of Trump, but have they got him right? In the eyes of his supporters, he’s the first president in history to actually follow through on his campaign promises. Trump pledged to shake up the system and put America first. He vowed to withdraw from disastrous trade deals which harm blue-collar workers like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to protect America’s borders with hardline immigration policies and to get tough on China and North Korea. And that’s what he’s done. And while the Washington establishment has tried to block him at every step, he has prevailed. But moderates need not despair. Trump was initially deplored for his isolationist foreign policy, but he is proving himself to be remarkably flexible. He has finally reasserted American global leadership by enforcing the ‘red line’ against chemical weapons and retaliating against Assad’s barbaric attacks. After standing up to Assad and Russia where Obama never dared, Trump has proved himself to be no Kremlin lackey.

    So will Trump restore America to greatness? Or will he send it to the dogs?

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    THINK LIKE A FREAK AUDIOBOOK, new from the authors of Freakonomics


    THINK LIKE A FREAK is the new audiobook by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (narrator of the audio program), authors of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process

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    Francis Fukuyama in conversation with David Runciman - Democracy: Even the Best Ideas Can Fail


    In 1992 American political scientist Francis Fukuyama shot to worldwide fame with the publication of 'The End of History and the Last Man'. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and a wave of democratic transitions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, Fukuyama argued that History, in the grand philosophical sense, was leading not to communism as the Left had asserted, but to liberal democracy and a market economy.

    Professor Fukuyama came to the Intelligence Squared stage in September 2014, where he squared up with one of Britain’s most brilliant political thinkers, David Runciman, to assess how democracy is faring in 2014. We certainly haven’t attained the rosy future that some thought Fukuyama was predicting: authoritarianism is entrenched in Russia and China, in the last decade the developed democracies have experienced severe financial crises and rising inequality, and Islamic State militants are wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

    Runciman agrees with Fukuyama that in the realm of ideas liberal democracy doesn’t have any real competitors. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only option, he believes, and even the best ideas can fail. Take the Arab Spring where democratic hopes have largely come to nothing. While Fukuyama argues that we should consider the long view – it’s easy to forget that the European revolutions of 1848 took 70 years to consolidate – Runciman worries that we may not have enough time for the long view in a fast-changing world.

    Is religion becoming the new politics? How will the technological revolution continue to impact our politics? And in the West are we in danger of becoming complacent about the challenges to democracy that we face?

  • Karen Armstrong on Religion and the History of Violence


    Filmed at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 1st October 2014.

    Is religion is to blame for most of the bloodshed throughout human history? Many would concur, but this is a view strongly countered by Karen Armstrong, one of the world’s leading thinkers on religion and spirituality. Armstrong is the former Catholic nun who abandoned her religious creed and has described herself as a ‘freelance monotheist’, while also taking inspiration from Buddhism. She has sold hundreds of thousands of books around the world and won huge audiences for her powerful oratory in which she challenges her listeners to reappraise their prejudices about religion. She has addressed the US Congress and Senate, and as a testament to her bridge-building abilities she has filled venues across the Muslim world, including Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan, Singapore, Egypt and Pakistan where up to 5000 have come out to hear her.

    She has written over 16 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and how our faiths have shaped world history and drive current events.

    She came to the Intelligence Squared stage to talk about her forthcoming book 'Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence'. Journeying from prehistoric times to the present, she contrasted medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus’ vision of a just and peaceful society. And she demonstrated that the underlying reasons – social, economic, political – for war and violence in our history have often had very little to do with religion. Instead, Armstrong celebrated the religious ideas and movements that have opposed war and aggression and promoted peace and reconciliation.

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    Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last


    About this presentation

    In this in-depth talk, ethnographer and leadership expert Simon Sinek reveals the hidden dynamics that inspire leadership and trust. In biological terms, leaders get the first pick of food and other spoils, but at a cost. When danger is present, the group expects the leader to mitigate all threats even at the expense of their personal well-being. Understanding this deep-seated expectation is the key difference between someone who is just an authority versus a true leader.

    For more on this topic, check out Sinek's latest book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't now available for pre-order.

    Watch more videos here:

    3:30 Happiness breakdown (4 chemicals)
    5:53 1) Endorphins
    7:16 Importance of endurance
    7:59 2) Dopamine
    8:19 Dopamine is to make sure get stuff done
    9:10 Goals must be tangible - we have to see the goal to stay focused
    10:17 Dopamine is dangerous when unbalanced
    15:07 Feel safe
    15:40 In our organization, danger isn't a constant it is a variable
    17:05 The responsibility of leadership is 2 things: 1) Determine who gets in and who doesn't 2) how big do we make the circle of safety
    17:33 Great leaders extend safety to the outermost of the org
    17:53 3) Serotonin - leadership chemical
    19:30 Trying to enforce relationships
    22:22 Value of group-living
    22:28 Being alpha comes at a cost
    26:01 The cost of leadership is self-interest
    27:15 Makes you feel safe
    27:34 4) Oxytocin
    29:03 Businesses aren't rational, it's about feeling safe. It's human -- physical touch
    29:27 Human bonds matter
    29:29 Act of human generosity
    32:19 Leaders spend time/energy not money
    37:30 You have to make sure you can trust others as leaders because you won't have time to help everyone
    38:47 Cortisone - the feeling of stress and anxiety
    40:59 Needs to shut down during times
    41:42 Cortisone inhabits oxytocin
    42:18 Our jobs are killing us.. leaders are responsible
    43:12 Leadership is a decision, a choice.

    About Simon Sinek

    A trained ethnographer and the author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek has held a life-long curiosity for why people and organizations do the things they do. Studying the leaders and companies that make the greatest impact in the world and achieve a more lasting success than others, he discovered the formula that explains how they do it.

    Sinek's amazingly simple idea, The Golden Circle, is grounded in the biology of human decision-making and is changing how leaders and companies think and act.

    His innovative views on business and leadership have earned him invitations to meet with an array of leaders and organizations, including Microsoft, Dell, SAP, Intel, Chanel, Members of the United States Congress, and the Ambassadors of Bahrain and Iraq.

    Sinek recently became an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He also works with the non-profit Education for Employment Foundation to help create opportunities for young men and women in the Middle East region. He lives in New York, where he teaches graduate level strategic communications at Columbia University.

    About 99U

    The 99U delivers the action-oriented education that you didn't get in school, highlighting real-world best practices for making ideas happen.

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    Can We Really End Poverty? A Debate on the Future of Development


    At the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, the largest ever gathering of world leaders pledged to work together to help the world's poorest people. They agreed on a set of targets that became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The deadline they set themselves to meet these was 31 December 2015. With just over two years until the MDGs expire, how much progress has been made and what should happen next?
    There have of course been successes: the world has already met the first MDG target of halving the world's population living in extreme poverty (on less than USD 1.25 per day). But 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty and vulnerability remains high. At the same time, problems in measuring poverty present barriers to effective policy making. Progress has also been uneven -- not all countries, regions, age groups, social sectors or genders have benefited equally from the advances that have been made. The truth is, the quality of life has not improved for all.
    This December, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will launch their new report on Ending Poverty. To coincide with this, Intelligence Squared will host a panel of experts to discuss the key issues that the report raises. How should we measure poverty? What can we learn from local solutions for tackling poverty? How can the fast progress made by middle-income countries like China provide lessons for Africa? How can we be smarter about how we use aid flows? How do we ensure that the next set of goals will be not just about getting to zero poverty, but about staying there?
    On 5 December, thought-leaders from the world's leading development think tanks, the OECD, academia and civil society offered different perspectives on these questions, and discussed what needs to be done to end poverty after 2015.

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    When to Rob a Bank, with Freakonomics’ Stephen J. Dubner


    No, Stephen J. Dubner doesn't actually endorse bank robbery. What he does endorse is amusing deconstructions of cultural acts or items -- robbing banks, for instance -- and analyzing data to stumble upon intriguing observations. Dubner's latest book is When to Rob a Bank (


    Follow Big Think here:

    Transcript - So if your question is when to rob a bank which plainly is our question – that’s what we titled the book, you think about a few things. You think about, you know, time of day, day of week, part of the year and so on. And this grew out of the fact that I’d read about a bank robber in New Jersey who was finally arrested after robbing banks on six Thursdays. And it made me wonder maybe Thursday is the best day to rob a bank. Maybe he knew something about the way the bank operated. Maybe that was his day off, whatever. So I went looking into the bank robbery data itself because that’s kind of what we do is look at data and see what’s interesting and this one was more, you know, we weren’t searching for this before the question arose. And so it turns out that the data are kind of fun to play with. It turns out that bank robberies are most – the most common day is Friday which I guess people, it makes sense because people think it’s payday and there’s a lot of money coming in and going out. But that doesn’t necessarily mean, you know, you’ll be more likely to be successful on Friday. There’s really no big difference in success rates from day of week. But you are much more likely to get more money if you rob a bank in the morning than in the afternoon.

    And yet most bank robbers work in the afternoon and not the morning which leads you to think well either bank robbers aren’t very good at profit maximizing, you know, thinking the way economists do or that maybe they just can’t get up in the morning and go to work bank robbing which means that maybe if they could get up in the morning early in the first place they wouldn’t have to resort to bank robbery. But the real answer to when to rob a bank is never. And never is the right answer because the ROI or the return on investment on bank robbery is terrible. So if you’re going to become a criminal bank robbery is a bad crime. The average haul is about $4,000 in the U.S. per bank robbery. In the UK it’s substantially more so you could consider that. And you’re likely to get arrested after just three bank robberies and sent to prison. So you have to think as a career move bank robbery is really dreadful. And then one other tangent that we got involved with on this and looking into bank robberies is internal, you know, inside jobs. And one of the most interesting ones we came across was a woman in Iowa who for years and years and years had been embezzling money from a bank, about two million dollars’ worth. And the bank was actually owned – the president of the bank was her father interestingly. So I don’t know what the dynamics were there. And the way she was finally caught – and it turns out that she kept two sets of books which is kind of how you want to embezzle. And she was exhausted when she was caught.

    The reason she was exhausted was because she’s worked so hard. She’d never taken a vacation over all those years. And the reason was that she was scared to because if she took a vacation someone would find that she’d been keeping two sets of books and she would have been found out. So what was interesting is she went to prison for a few years. She was let out. She moved back in with her parents who were obviously very forgiving since it was the dad’s bank that she had kind of put into trouble. And then she went to work with law enforcement. And what I love about this is it’s the classic tale of – only someone who knows how to cheat or how to steal or how to lie or rob would know how to help the good guys catch the bad guys from doing it. So she went to work for law enforcement and they found that one of the best metrics to look for in preventing white collar crime generally in embezzlement, particularly it was people who took, who didn’t take vacations or who took really strange vacations. So if in your firm you see that someone is passing up on their vacation time you shouldn’t necessarily think of them as just like a super hard worker or an altruist to your company. You might want to take a look in their drawer and see if they’re keeping a second set of books.

    Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Aaron Lehmann

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