Dec 132012

This Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?”. In it, we try to answer a few fundamental questions: how do we know that what we believe is true? How do we decide which information to trust? And how do we quantify risk — from climate change to personal investments?

The program begins with Stephen Greenspan, a psychologist and an expert on “social incompetence” and gullibility. He knows from personal experience that even the smartest people can be duped into bad risk assessments, especially on the advice of people they trust.


Stephen GREENSPAN: Yes, life was pretty good until I got a phone call from my broker.

Stephen J. DUBNER: That’s Stephen Greenspan. He’s an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut.

GREENSPAN: Hi Katherine.


DUBNER: And this is Katherine Wells. She’s one of the producers on our show. Hi Katherine.

Katherine WELLS: Hi Stephen.

DUBNER: So you are here with a story for us, yes?

KWELLS: Right. A story about Stephen Greenspan. He has an interesting specialty: he’s an expert in what he calls “social incompetence.”

DUBNER: I have some of that.

WELLS: Which, you know, we all feel. What he means is he studies why people do dumb things.

DUBNER: Presumably that means … why smart people do dumb things?

WELLS: Right, that included.

DUBNER: And when he told you there that “life was pretty good,” what did he mean? What was so good exactly?


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Source: Freakonomics

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