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4.05.16: Numeric Personalities, Tipping Tendencies, & Botox for Depression

duncan c via Flickr CC

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, 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.

Listen to the full show.

Grapes of Math


We talk to Alex Bellos, author of the book Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Number and Numbers Reflect Life. He fills us in on the history of our love/hate affair with odd and even numbers and how these age-old associations are used to manipulate us all the time.

An interview with author Alex Bellos

The Racial Tipping Point

Stephen J. Dubner speaks to Cornell University professor, Michael Lynn, author of over fifty academic papers on the subject of tipping. They discuss differences in tipping related to race and culture, and whether these discrepancies should push us to scrap the traditional all together.

Freakonomics interview with Cornell professor Michael Lynn

Botox and Depression

Wrinkles, migraines, excessive sweating and…depression? The drug Botulinum Toxin or Botox is thought to be a miracle for numerous medical and aesthetic ailments. Now, researchers are seeing that it may help in relieving depression. Producer Taylor Quimby has a conversation with journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner about her article for Pacific Standard Magazine titled “How Botox Can Solve the Depression Epidemic.”

Journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner talks to producer Taylor Quimby about her experiment with using Botox to treat her depression.

Nose as Destiny

Plastic surgery is on the rise in Afghanistan. Reporter Greg Warner takes us on the journey of one young women who pursues a nose reconstruction to improve her marriage prospects.

A story about beauty, marriage and plastic surgery by reporter Greg Warner.

Mozart Makes You Smarter

You may have heard about the supposed link between classical music and increased IQ in babies. You also may have heard that it is weak if at all existent. Jayson Greene, music writer and author of the Pitchfork article“Mozart Makes You Smarter…And Other Dubious Musical Theories” joins us to attempt to distinguish what is true and what is false when it comes to the relationship between music and the brain

Music writer Jayson Greene fills us in on the truth about some musical myths.

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