Freakonomics Radio: Sept. 8
Sat September 8, 2012
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In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, we share stories about "commitment devices." They're a clever way to force yourself to do something that you know will be hard. Stephen Dubner talks to a struggling gambler who signs himself up for a program that bans him from state casinos – only to return, win a jackpot, and have it confiscated. We'll also hear from a new father trying to shed bad habits. So he makes a list of things he wants to change and vows to pay a penalty if he can't shape up in 30 days. The penalty? He'd write a $750 check to someone he really dislikes: Oprah Winfrey. Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt offers a few of his own off-the-wall commitment devices, and then Brown economist Anna Aizer talks about using commitment devices to fight domestic violence. Then we'll take a look at some misadventures in baby-making. We'll talk to the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated book Unnatural Selection, which looks at how the introduction of the ultrasound led to the disappearance of tens of millions of baby girls. Finally, Stanford professor Stephen Quake ponders the consequences, intended and otherwise, of a new genetic test he has developed.