Notes - Think Like a Freak - Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Think Like a Freak - Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner (2014)


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Below you will find the source material for the stories we’ve told in this book. We are grateful, and indebted, to the many scholars, writers, and others whose research we relied upon. Let’s also raise a glass to Wikipedia. It has improved immeasurably over the years that we have been writing books; it is extraordinarily valuable as a first stop to discover primary sources on nearly any topic. Thanks to all those who have contributed to it intellectually, financially, or otherwise.


1 “IS A COLLEGE DEGREE STILL ‘WORTH IT’ ”?: See Stephen J. Dubner, “Freakonomics Goes to College, Parts 1 and 2,” Freakonomics Radio, July 30, 2012, and August 16, 2012. As for the value of college and the returns on investment, the economist David Card has written widely and well on this topic. See also Ronald G. Ehrenberg, “American Higher Education in Transition,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 26, no. 1 (Winter 2012). / 1 “Is it a good idea to pass along a family business … ?”: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Church of Scionology,” Freakonomics Radio, August 3, 2011. Some of the relevant papers are: Marianne Bertrand and Antoinette Schoar, “The Role of Family in Family Firms,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 20, no. 2 (Spring 2006); Vikas Mehrotra, Randall Morck, Jungwook Shim, and Yupana Wiwattanakantang, “Adoptive Expectations: Rising Sons in Japanese Family Firms,” Journal of Financial Economics 108, no. 3 (June 2013); and Francisco Pérez-González, “Inherited Control and Firm Performance,” American Economic Review 96, no. 5 (2006) / 1 “Whatever happened to the carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic?”: See Stephen J. Dubner, “Whatever Happened to the Carpal Tunnel Epidemic?,” Freakonomics Radio, September 12, 2013. Drawn from research by Bradley Evanoff, an M.D. who studies occupational medicine at Washington University; among his relevant papers: T. Armstrong, A. M. Dale, A. Franzblau, and Evanoff, “Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Median Neuropathy in a Working Population,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 50, no. 12 (December 2008).

3 IMAGINE YOU ARE A SOCCER PLAYER: The statistics in this section were drawn from: Pierre-André Chiappori, Steven D. Levitt, Timothy Groseclose, “Testing Mixed-Strategy Equilibria When Players Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Penalty Kicks in Soccer,” The American Economic Review 92, no. 4 (September 2002); see also Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, “How to Take Penalties: Freakonomics Explains,” The (U.K.) Times, June 12, 2010. For the speed of soccer ball, see Eleftherios Kellis and Athanasios Katis, “Biomechanical Characteristics and Determinants of Instep Soccer Kick,” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 6 (2007). Thanks to Solomon Dubner for his insights into this passage, and for his great interest in footy.

9 “IF YOU’RE GRUMPY, WHO THE HELL WANTS TO MARRY YOU?”: Spoken by the irrepressible and inimitable Justin Wolfers in Stephen J. Dubner, “Why Marry, Part 1,” Freakonomics Radio, February 13, 2014. See: Betsey Stevenson and Wolfers, “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and Their Driving Forces,” NBER working paper 12944 (March 2007); Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey, “Does Marriage Make People Happy, or Do Happy People Get Married?,” IZA discussion paper (October 2005).

10 EVEN THE SMARTEST PEOPLE TEND TO SEEK OUT INFORMATION THAT CONFIRMS WHAT THEY ALREADY THINK: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Truth Is Out There … Isn’t It?,” Freakonomics Radio, November 23, 2011; drawn from research conducted by, among others, the Cultural Cognition Project. / 10 It’s also tempting to run with a herd: See Stephen J. Dubner, “Riding the Herd Mentality,” Freakonomics Radio, June 21, 2012.

11 “FEW PEOPLE THINK MORE THAN TWO OR THREE TIMES A YEAR”: Like many historical quotes, this one is hard to verify for certain, but Shaw was at least famous during his lifetime for having said this. In 1933, Reader’s Digestattributed the quote to Shaw, as did many other publications. Hat tip to Garson O’Toole of, who provided considerable help in tracing this quote.

11 CHILD CAR SEATS ARE A WASTE OF TIME: See Joseph J. Doyle Jr. and Steven D. Levitt, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Safety Seats and Seat Belts in Protecting Children From Injury,” Economic Inquiry 48, no. 3 (July 2010); Stephen J. Dubner and Levitt, “The Seat-Belt Solution,” The New York Times Magazine, July 10, 2005; Levitt and Dubner, SuperFreakonomics (William Morrow, 2009). / 11 The local-food movement can actually hurt the environment: See Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States,” Environmental Science & Technology 42, no. 10 (April 2008); and Stephen J. Dubner, “You Eat What You Are, Part 2,” Freakonomics Radio, June 7, 2012.

11 OUR DISASTROUS MEETING WITH DAVID CAMERON: Thanks to Rohan Silva for the invitation to this and subsequent meetings (though never again with Mr. Cameron himself!) and to David Halpern and his Behavioral Insights Team. / 14 “The closest thing the English have to a religion”: See Nigel Lawson, The View from No. 11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical (Bantam Press, 1992) / 14 U.K. health-care costs: See Adam Jurd, “Expenditure on Healthcare in the UK, 1997-2010,” Office for National Statistics, May 2, 2012 / 14 David Cameron biographical details: We are especially indebted to Francis Elliott and James Hanning’s Cameron: Practically a Conservative (Fourth Estate, 2012), originally published as Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative, a thorough if somewhat tabloidy biography. / 16 A massive share of the costs go to the final months: for an interesting discussion of end-of-life medical care, see Ezekiel J. Emanuel, “Better, if Not Cheaper, Care,” New York Times, January 4, 2013.


19 A LITTLE GIRL NAMED MARY: Special thanks to Amanda Waterman, a developmental psychologist at the University of Leeds. There is a small but interesting literature on the topic of unanswerable questions, among both children and adults, to which Waterman is an important contributor. See Waterman and Mark Blades, “Helping Children Correctly Say ‘I Don’t Know’ to Unanswerable Questions,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 17, no. 4 (2011); Waterman, Blades, and Christopher Spencer, “Interviewing Children and Adults: The Effect of Question Format on the Tendency to Speculate,” Applied Cognitive Psychology 15 (2001); Waterman and Blades, “The Effect of Delay and Individual Differences on Children’s Tendency to Guess,” Developmental Psychology 49, no. 2 (February 2013); Alan Scoboria, Giuliana Mazzoni, and Irving Kirsch, “ ‘Don’t Know’ Responding to Answerable and Unanswerable Questions During Misleading and Hypnotic Interviews,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 14, no. 3. (September 2008); Claudia M. Roebers and Olivia Fernandez, “The Effects of Accuracy Motivation and Children’s and Adults’ Event Recall, Suggestibility, and Their Answers to Unanswerable Questions,” Journal of Cognition and Development 3, no. 4 (2002).

20 “EVERYONE’S ENTITLED TO THEIR OWN OPINION BUT NOT TO THEIR OWN FACTS”: Moynihan said this at a Jerome Levy Economics Institute Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on October 26, 1995. According to The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs (Yale University Press, 2012) by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, the phrase was first said by Bernard M. Baruch.

21 BELIEF IN THE DEVIL AND “ENTREPRENEURS OF ERROR”: Thanks to Ed Glaeser for making this point in a lecture given at an April 2006 conference at the University Chicago in honor of Gary Becker. Devil poll numbers are from European Values Study 1990: Integrated Dataset (EVS, 2011), GESIS Data Archive, Cologne. 9/11 numbers are from a Gallup poll: “Blame for Sept. 11 Attacks Unclear for Many in Islamic World,” March 1, 2002; see also Matthew A. Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro, “Media, Education and Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 18, no. 3 (Summer 2004).

23 THE FOLLY OF PREDICTION: “Prediction is very difficult …”: Niels Bohr was “fond of quoting” this line; it is strongly associated with a fellow Dane, the prominent cartoonist Storm P., although he is likely not the originator either. / 23 One of the most impressive studies: See Philip E. Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton University Press, 2005); and Stephen J. Dubner, “The Folly of Prediction,” Freakonomics Radio, September 14, 2011. For economic predictions, see Jerker Denrell and Christina Fang, “Predicting the Next Big Thing: Success as a Signal of Poor Judgment,” Management Science 56, no. 10 (2010); for NFL predictions, see Christopher Avery and Judith Chevalier, “Identifying Investor Sentiment From Price Paths: The Case of Football Betting,” Journal of Business 72, no. 4 (1999). / 24 A similar study by a firm called CXO Advisory Group: See “Guru Grades,” CXO Advisory Group / 25 Smart people love to make smart-sounding predictions: See Paul Krugman, “Why Most Economists’ Predictions Are Wrong,” Red Herring, June 1998. (Thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.) / 26 More than the GDP of all but eighteen countries: market caps of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are based on stock prices as of February 11, 2014; the eighteen countries are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S., and Turkey (see CIA World Factbook).

27 WE DON’T EVEN KNOW OURSELVES ALL THAT WELL: See Clayton R. Critcher and David Dunning, “How Chronic Self-Views Influence (and Mislead) Self-Assessments of Task Performance: Self-Views Shape Bottom-Up Experiences with the Task,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97, no. 6 (2009). (Thanks to Danny Kahneman and Tom Gilovich for leading us to this paper.) See also: Dunning et al., “Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 12, no. 3 (June 2003).

27 WHEN ASKED TO RATE THEIR DRIVING SKILLS: See Iain A. McCormick, Frank H. Walkey, and Dianne E. Green, “Comparative Perceptions of Driver Ability—A Confirmation and Expansion,” Accident Analysis & Prevention 18, no. 3 (June 1986); and Ola Svenson, “Are We All Less Risky and More Skillful Than Our Fellow Drivers?,” Acta Psychologica 47 (1981).

27 “ULTRACREPIDARIANISM”: We are grateful to the continuing research by Anders Ericsson and his many colleagues, much of whose research is collected in Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich, and Robert R. Hoffman, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006); see also Steven D. Levitt, John A. List, and Sally E. Sadoff, “Checkmate: Exploring Backward Induction Among Chess Players,” American Economics Review 101, no. 2 (April 2011); Chris Argyris, “Teaching Smart People How to Learn,” Harvard Business Review, May 1991. Our definition of “ultracrepidarianism” is from

28 COSTS OF THE IRAQ WAR: See Linda J. Bilmes, “The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets,” Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP13-006 (March 2013); Amy Belasco, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” Congressional Research Service, March 29, 2011.

30 AN ELDERLY CHRISTIAN RADIO PREACHER NAMED HAROLD CAMPING: See Robert D. McFadden, “Harold Camping, Dogged Forecaster of the End of the World, Dies at 92,” New York Times, December 17, 2013; Dan Amira, “A Conversation with Harold Camping, Prophesier of Judgment Day,” Daily Intelligencer blog, New York Magazine, May 11, 2011; Harold Camping, “We Are Almost There!,” (Thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)

30 ROMANIAN WITCHES: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Folly of Prediction,” Freakonomics Radio, September 14, 2011; “Witches Threaten Romanian Taxman After New Labor Law,” BBC, January 6, 2011; Alison Mutler, “Romania’s Witches May Be Fined If Predictions Don’t Come True,” Associated Press, February 8, 2011.

32 SHIP’S COMPASSES AND METAL INTERFERENCE: See A. R. T. Jonkers, Earth’s Magnetism in the Age of Sail (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003); T. A. Lyons, A Treatise on Electromagnetic Phenomena and on the Compass and Its Deviations Aboard Ship, Vol. 2 (John Wiley & Sons, 1903). Thanks to Jonathan Rosen for pointing out this idea.

32 CONSIDER A PROBLEM LIKE SUICIDE: For a fuller treatment of this topic, see Stephen J. Dubner, “The Suicide Paradox,” Freakonomics Radio, August 31, 2011. We are particularly indebted to the broad and deep research of David Lester, as well as multiple interviews with him. We also relied heavily on David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser, and Karen E. Norberg, “Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide,” from Jonathan Gruber (editor), Risky Behavior Among Youths: An Economic Analysis (University of Chicago Press, 2001). Various reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Vital Statistics System were very helpful; see also Robert E. McKeown, Steven P. Cuffe, and Richard M. Schulz, “U.S. Suicide Rates by Age Group, 1970-2002: An Examination of Recent Trends,” American Journal of Public Health 96, no. 10 (October 2006). On the topic of the “suicide paradox”—i.e., the link between suicide and increased well-being—see Cutler et al. as well as: A. F. Henry and J. F. Short, Suicide and Homicide (Free Press, 1954); David Lester, “Suicide, Homicide, and the Quality of Life: An Archival Study,” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 1693 (fall 1986); Lester, “Suicide, Homicide, and the Quality of Life in Various Countries,” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 81 (1990); E. Hem et al., “Suicide Rates According to Education with a Particular Focus on Physicians in Norway 1960-2000,” Psychological Medicine 35, no. 6 (June 2005); Mary C. Daly, Andrew J. Oswald, Daniel Wilson, Stephen Wu, “The Happiness-Suicide Paradox,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco working paper 2010-30; Daly, Wilson, and Norman J. Johnson, “Relative Status and Well-Being: Evidence from U.S. Suicide Deaths,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco working paper 2012-16. / 32 The U.S. homicide rate is lower than it’s been in fifty years: See James Alan Fox and Marianne W. Zawitz, “Homicide Trends in the United States,” Bureau of Justice Statistics; and “Crime in the United States 2012,” Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, Table 16. / 32 The rate of traffic fatalities is at a historic low: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Most Dangerous Machine,” Freakonomics Radio, December 5, 2013; Ian Savage, a Northwestern economist who studies transportation safety, was especially helpful in compiling this research. See also: “Traffic Safety Facts: 2012 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, November 2013.

40 IN TRYING TO MEASURE THE KNOCK-ON EFFECTS OF SENDING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO PRISON: See Steven D. Levitt, “The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 111, no. 2 (May 1996) / 40 In analyzing the relationship between abortion and crime … : See John J. Donohue III and Levitt, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 116, no. 2 (May 2001).

41 A BETTER WAY TO GET GOOD FEEDBACK IS TO RUN A FIELD EXPERIMENT: One of the masters of modern field experimentation is John List, with whom we’ve collaborated a good bit, and whom we wrote about in Chapter 3 of SuperFreakonomics. For an engaging tour of the topic, see Uri Gneezy and John A. List, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life (Public Affairs, 2013).

42 DO EXPENSIVE WINES REALLY TASTE BETTER? For a fuller treatment of this topic, see Stephen J. Dubner, “Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?” Freakonomics Radio, December 16, 2010. It includes the story of Steve Levitt’s blind taste test at the Society of Fellows and Robin Goldstein’s extensive blind-taste experiments. For the underlying research on Goldstein’s findings, see Goldstein, Johan Almenberg, Anna Dreber, John W. Emerson, Alexis Herschkowitsch, and Jacob Katz, “Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better? Evidence from a Large Sample of Blind Tastings,” Journal of Wine Economics 3, no. 1 (Spring 2008); see also Steven D. Levitt, “Cheap Wine,”, July 16, 2008. While Goldstein’s research suggests that wine experts are far more discerning than average drinkers, there is further research that challenges even this assumption. Another paper in The Journal of Wine Economics found experts’ judgment to be—well, rather inexpert. One study of judges at wine competitions, for instance, found that most wines that win a gold medal in one competition received no award at all in another. “Thus,” wrote the author, “many wines that are viewed as extraordinarily good at some competitions are viewed as below average at others.” See Robert T. Hodgson, “An Analysis of the Concordance Among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions,” Journal of Wine Economics 4, no. 1 (spring 2009). / 45 Osteria L’Intrepido’s terrible wine list: Goldstein revealed his Wine Spectator Award of Excellence prank at the American Association of Wine Economists’ 2008 annual conference. The incident received widespread media coverage. Wine Spectator vigorously defended its award system; the executive editor said the magazine never claimed to visit every restaurant that applied for an award, and that it did its due diligence on Osteria L’Intrepido—looking over its website and calling the restaurant—but that it kept reaching an answering machine. See also: Goldstein, “What Does It Take to Get a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence,”, August 15, 2008.

47 REMEMBER THOSE BRITISH SCHOOLCHILDREN: See Amanda H. Waterman and Mark Blades, “Helping Children Correctly Say ‘I Don’t Know’ to Unanswerable Questions, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 17, no. 4 (2011).


50 TEACHER SKILL: See the two-part National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff, “The Long-term Impacts of Teachers: Teach Value-added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood” (September 2013) / 50 Smart women now have so many more job options: See Marigee P. Bacolod, “Do Alternative Opportunities Matter? The Role of Female Labor Markets in the Decline of Teacher Supply and Teacher Quality, 1940-1990,” Review of Economics and Statistics 89, no. 4 (November 2007); and Harold O. Levy, “Why the Best Don’t Teach,” The New York Times, September 9, 2000. / 50 Finnish teachers (e.g.) vs. American teachers: See “Top Performing Countries,” Center on International Education Benchmarking (2013), available at; Byron Auguste, Paul Kihn, and Matt Miller, “Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching,” McKinsey & Company (Sept 2010). (The McKinsey report has been criticized because it ranks the terciles by SAT score/high school GPA, and only surveys a small population of new teachers.) Thanks to Eric Kumbier for making this point to us in an e-mail. / 50 Parental influence on kids’ education: See, inter alia, Marianne Bertrand and Jessica Pan, “The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5, no. 1 (2013); Shannon M. Pruden, Susan C. Levine, and Janellen Huttenlocher, “Children’s Spatial Thinking: Does Talk About the Spatial World Matter?,” Developmental Science 14 (November 2011); Bruce Sacerdote, “How Large Are the Effects from Changes in Family Environment? A Study of Korean American Adoptees,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122, no.1 (2007); Roland G. Fryer Jr. and Steven D. Levitt, “Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School,” The Review of Economics and Statistics 86, no. 2 (May 2004); Huttenlocher, Marina Vasilyeva, Elina Cymerman, and Susan Levine, “Language Input and Child Syntax,” Cognitive Psychology 45, no. 3 (2002). / 51 “Why do American kids know less … ?”: See 2012 report from Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) / 51 Turn that child over … so the teachers can work their magic: for a rare example of a spirited argument in this vein, see “The Depressing Data on Early Childhood Investment,” interview with Jerome Kagan by Paul Solman, (March 7, 2013).

52 THE LEGEND OF TAKERU KOBAYASHI: We are grateful to Kobi for the many hours of fascinating conversation stretching over what turned out to be several years, and to all those who helped facilitate those conversations, including Maggie James, Noriko Okubo, Akiko Funatsu, Anna Berry, Kumi, and others. Kobi is so convinced that competitive eating is an acquired skill that he says he could train one of us to eat fifty HDB with just six months of training. We have yet to take him up on this offer. Dubner did, however, get one lesson from Kobi, at Gray’s Papaya in New York:

We are indebted to the many journalists who have written about Kobi and the sport of competitive eating, especially Jason Fagone, the author of Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream (Crown, 2006). Fagone steered us in the right direction at the outset. We also drew upon: Fagone, “Dog Bites Man,”, July 8, 2010; Bill Belew, “Takeru ‘Tsunami’ Kobayashi Training & Techniques to Defeat Joey Chestnut,” The Biz of Knowledge website, June 29, 2007; “How Do You Speed Eat?” BBC News Magazine, July 4, 2006; Sarah Goldstein, “The Gagging and the Glory,”, April 19, 2006; Josh Ozersky, “On Your Mark. Get Set. Pig Out,” New York, June 26, 2005; Chris Ballard, “That Is Going to Make You Money Someday,” The New York Times, August 31, 2003; Associated Press, “Kobayashi’s Speedy Gluttony Rattles Foes,”, July 4, 2001. / 53 Its promoters admit they concocted that history: See Sam Roberts, “No, He Did Not Invent the Publicity Stunt,” New York Times, August 18, 2010. / 55 A schoolboy choked to death: See Tama Miyake, “Fast Food,” Metropolis, November 17, 2006. / 56 The opponent was a half-ton Kodiak bear: See Larry Getlen, “The Miracle That Is Kobayashi,” The Black Table website, May 19, 2005. / 58 The hot-dog-bun challenge: Thanks to the Freakonomics Radio crew for trying this (and failing). As producer Greg Rosalsky put it: “The first bun soaks up your saliva like a sponge and then it seems virtually impossible to eat the second one.” / 61 “I wish there were hot dogs in jail”: See “Kobayashi Freed, Pleads Not Guilty,” News Services (with reporting from the Associated Press), ESPN New York, July 5, 2010. / 63 Even elite athletes can be tricked: See M. R. Stone, K. Thomas, M. Wilkinson, A. M. Jones, A. St. Clair Gibson, and K. G. Thompson, “Effects of Deception on Exercise Performance: Implications for Determinants of Fatigue in Humans,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 44, No. 3 (March 2012); Gina Kolata, “A Little Deception Helps Push Athletes to the Limit,” New York Times, September 19, 2011. Thanks also to Kolata for the Roger Bannister quote, which we appropriated. / 64 “I can keep going”: Thanks again to Jason Fagone for this quote; it appeared in the May 2006 issue of The Atlantic, in an excerpt from his Horsemen of the Esophagus book.


66 “STARVATION IS THE CHARACTERISTIC …”: See Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (Oxford Univ. Press, 1981). / 67 We throw away an astonishing 40 percent of the food: See “USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge,” USDA new release, June 4, 2013.

67 THE RISE AND FALL IN VIOLENT CRIME: See Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics (William Morrow, 2005); and Levitt, “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors That Explain the Decline and Six That Do Not,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 18, no. 1 (winter 2004), pp. 163-190. / 68 The homicide rate today … lower than it was in 1960: See Erica L. Smith and Alexia Cooper, “Homicide in the U.S. Known to Law Enforcement, 2011,” Bureau of Justice Statistics (Dec. 2013); U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States, 2011,” Table 1; Barry Krisberg, Carolina Guzman, Linh Vuong, “Crime and Economic Hard Times,” National Council on Crime and Delinquency (February 2009); and James Alan Fox and Marianne W. Zawitz, “Homicide Trends in the United States,” Bureau of Justice Statistics (2007). / 69 The abortion-crime link: See Levitt and Dubner, Freakonomics (William Morrow, 2005); and John J. Donohue III and Levitt, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 116, no. 2 (May 2001).

70 LET’S PRETEND YOU ARE A GERMAN FACTORY WORKER: See Jörg Spenkuch, “The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence From Contemporary Germany,” University of Chicago working paper. Also based on author interviews with Spenkuch, and we are grateful to Spenkuch for his comments on our manuscript. For further recent evidence of the Protestant work ethic, see Andre van Hoorn, Robbert Maseland, “Does a Protestant Work Ethic Exist? Evidence from the Well-Being Effect of Unemployment,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 91 (July 2013). Meanwhile, Davide Cantoni has argued that the Protestant ethic did not improve economic outcomes in Germany; see Cantoni, “The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands,” job market paper, November 10, 2009. / 73 In defense, however, of German Catholicism … (footnote): See Spenkuch and Philipp Tillmann, “Elite Influence? Religion, Economics, and the Rise of the Nazis,” working paper, 2013.

73 WHY, FOR INSTANCE, ARE SOME ITALIAN TOWNS … : See Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales, “Long-Term Persistence,” July 2013 working paper; see also earlier versions by same authors: “Long-Term Cultural Persistence,” September 2012 working paper; and “Long-Term Persistence,” European University Institute working paper 2008. Hat tip to Hans-Joachim Voth and Nico Voigtländer, “Hatred Transformed: How Germans Changed Their Minds About Jews, 1890-2006,” Vox, May 1, 2012.

74 ETHNIC STRIFE IN AFRICA: See Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou, “The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa,” NBER working paper, November 2011; and Elliott Green, “On the Size and Shape of African States,” International Studies Quarterly 56, no. 2 (June 2012).

74 THE SCARS OF COLONIALISM STILL HAUNT SOUTH AMERICA AS WELL: See Melissa Dell, “The Persistent Effects of Peru’s Mining Mita,” MIT working paper, January 2010; and Daron Acemoglu, Camilo Garcia-Jimeno, and James A. Robinson, “Finding Eldorado: Slavery and Long-Run Development in Colombia,” NBER working paper, June 2012.

75 THE SALT-SENSITIVITY THEORY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HYPERTENSION: This section is based on author interview with Roland Fryer as reflected in Stephen J. Dubner, “Toward a Unified Theory of Black America,” New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2005. We are also grateful for the excellent article by Mark Warren in Esquire, “Roland Fryer’s Big Ideas” (December 2005). See also: David M. Cutler, Roland G. Fryer Jr., and Edward L. Glaeser, “Racial Differences in Life Expectancy: The Impact of Salt, Slavery, and Selection,” unpublished manuscript, Harvard University and NBER, March 1, 2005; and Katherine M. Barghaus, David M. Cutler, Roland G. Fryer Jr., and Edward L. Glaeser, “An Empirical Examination of Racial Differences in Health,” unpublished manuscript, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and NBER, November 2008. For further background, see: Gary Taubes, “Salt, We Misjudged You,” The New York Times, June 3, 2012; Nicholas Bakalar, “Patterns: Less Salt Isn’t Always Better for the Heart,” The New York Times, November 29, 2011; Martin J. O’Donnell et al., “Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion and Risk of Cardiovascular Events,” The Journal of the American Medical Association 306, no. 20 (November 23/30, 2011); Michael H. Alderman, “Evidence Relating Dietary Sodium to Cardiovascular Disease,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 25, no. 3 (2006); Jay Kaufman, “The Anatomy of a Medical Myth,” Is Race “Real”?, SSRC Web Forum June 7, 2006; Joseph E. Inikori and Stanley L. Engerman, The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe (Duke University Press, 1998); and F. C. Luft et al., “Salt Sensitivity and Resistance of Blood Pressure. Age and Race as Factors in Physiological Responses,” Hypertension 17 (1991). / 75 “An Englishman Tastes the Sweat of an African”: Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Original source: M. Chambon, Le Commerce de l’Amerique par Marseille (Avignon, 1764), vol. 2, plate XI, facing p. 400.

78 “WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF SCIENCE …”: See Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (HarperCollins, 1997).

78 CONSIDER THE ULCER: The story of Barry Marshall (and Robin Warren) is fascinating and heroic from start to end. We strongly encourage you to read more about him, in any or all of the following works cited, which also include more general information about ulcers and the pharmaceutical industry. For the story of Marshall himself, we were most reliant on a wonderful long interview conducted by the estimable Norman Swan, an Australian physician who works as a journalist. See Norman Swan, “Interviews with Australian Scientists: Professor Barry Marshall,” Australian Academy of Science, 2008. Thanks to Dr. Marshall himself for offering his useful comments on what we wrote about him here and in Chapter 5. We are also indebted to: Kathryn Schulz, “Stress Doesn’t Cause Ulcers! Or, How to Win a Nobel Prize in One Easy Lesson: Barry Marshall on Being … Right,”, September 9, 2010; Pamela Weintraub, “The Dr. Who Drank Infectious Broth, Gave Himself an Ulcer, and Solved a Medical Mystery,” Discover, March 2010; and “Barry J. Marshall, Autobiography,” The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2005,, 2005. / 79 The first true blockbuster drugs: See Melody Petersen, Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs (Sarah Crichton Books, 2008); and Shannon Brownlee, “Big Pharma’s Golden Eggs,” Washington Post, April 6, 2008; “Having an Ulcer Is Getting a Lot Cheaper,” BusinessWeek, May 8, 1994. / 79 In the past, some medical researcher might have suggested … : In particular we are thinking of Dr. A. Stone Freedberg of Harvard, who in 1940 published a paper “identifying similar bacteria in 40 percent of patients with ulcers and stomach cancer”; see Lawrence K. Altman, “Two Win Nobel Prize for Discovering Bacterium Tied to Stomach Ailments,” The New York Times, October 4, 2005; and Lawrence K. Altman, “A Scientist, Gazing Toward Stockholm, Ponders ‘What If?,’ “ New York Times, December 6, 2005. / 82 Even today, many people still believe that ulcers are caused by stress … : Perhaps they are still swayed by New York City’s famously feisty mayor Ed Koch. “I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers,” he once said. “Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.” See Maurice Carroll, “How’s He Doing? How’s He Doing?,” New York Times, December 24, 1978.

85 THE POWER OF POOP: This section was based primarily on author interviews with the gastroenterologists Thomas Borody, Alexander Khoruts, and Michael Levitt (father of Steve Levitt), as reflected in Stephen J. Dubner, “The Power of Poop,” Freakonomics Radio, March 4, 2011. We are also grateful to Borody for offering useful comments to this section. See also: Borody, Sudarshan Paramsothy, and Gaurav Agrawal, “Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: Indications, Methods, Evidence, and Future Directions,” Current Gastroenterology Reports 15, no. 337 (July 2013); W. H. Wilson Tang et al., “Intestinal Microbial Metabolism of Phosphatidylcholine and Cardiovascular Risk,” New England Journal of Medicine 368, no. 17 (April 2013); Olga C. Aroniadis and Lawrence J. Brandt, “Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: Past, Present and Future,” Current Opinion in Gastroenterology29, no. 1 (January 2013); “Jonathan Eisen: Meet Your Microbes,” TEDMED Talk, Washington, D.C., April 2012; Borody and Khoruts, “Fecal Microbiota Transplantation and Emerging Applications,” Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 9, no. 2 (2011); Khoruts et al., “Changes in the Composition of the Human Fecal Microbiome After Bacteriotherapy for Recurrent Clostridium Difficile-Associated Diarrhea,” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 44, no. 5 (May/June 2010); Borody et al., “Bacteriotherapy Using Fecal Flora: Toying with Human Motions,” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 38, no. 6 (July 2004). / 85 Looks like chocolate milk: That is according to Josbert Keller, a gastroenterologist at the HagaZiekenhuis hospital in the Hague, an author of “Duodenal Infusion of Donor Feces for Recurrent Clostridium difficile,” New England Journal of Medicine 368 (2013):407-415; see also Denise Grady, “When Pills Fail, This, er, Option Provides a Cure,” New York Times, January 16, 2013. / 85 Colitis “previously an incurable disease”: See Borody and Jordana Campbell, “Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: Techniques, Applications, and Issues,” Gastroenterology Clinics of North America 41 (2012); and Borody, Eloise F. Warren, Sharyn Leis, Rosa Surace, and Ori Ashman, “Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis Using Fecal Bacteriotherapy,” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 37, no. 1 (July 2003).


88 “SOPHISTICATION” AND THE SOPHISTS (FOOTNOTE): Drawn from the “Sophisticated” entry on, by the excellent British etymologist Michael Quinion.

89 “TO EXPLAIN ALL NATURE IS TOO DIFFICULT A TASK …”: See Isaac Newton and J. E. McGuire, “Newton’s ‘Principles of Philosophy’: An Intended Preface for the 1704 ‘Opticks’ and a Related Draft Fragment,” The British Journal for the History of Science 5, no. 2 (December 1970); hat tip to Freakonomics Radio producer Katherine Wells, who scripted this for Stephen J. Dubner, “The Truth Is Out There … Isn’t It?,” Freakonomics Radio, November 23, 2011.

90 DRUNK WALKING: See Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, SuperFreakonomics (William Morrow, 2009) / 90 Mom-and-pop bagel-delivery outfit: Levitt and Dubner, Freakonomics (William Morrow, 2005) / 91 Guns versus swimming pools: Levitt and Dubner, Freakonomics.

91 POOR VISION AND CLASSROOM PERFORMANCE: See Stephen J. Dubner, “Smarter Kids at 10 Bucks a Pop,” Freakonomics Radio, April 8, 2011. This report was based primarily on author interviews with Paul Glewwe and Albert Park and drew on their paper “Visualizing Development: Eyeglasses and Academic Performance in Rural Primary Schools in China,” University of Minnesota Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy, working paper WP12-2 (2012), coauthored with Meng Zhao. See also: Douglas Heingartner, “Better Vision for the World, on a Budget,” New York Times, January 2, 2010; and “Comprehensive Eye Exams Particularly Important for Classroom Success,” American Optometric Association (2008). For the “four-eyes” stigma and “planos” (in footnote), see Dubner, “Playing the Nerd Card,” Freakonomics Radio, May 31, 2012.

93 AS ALBERT EINSTEIN LIKED TO SAY … : Thanks again to Garson O’Toole at

94 LET’S RETURN BRIEFLY TO BARRY MARSHALL: Once again, we drew heavily from the excellent interview of Marshall conducted by Norman Swan, “Interviews with Australian Scientists: Professor Barry Marshall,” Australian Academy of Science, 2008.

96 EXPERT PERFORMANCE: See, for starters, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, “A Star Is Made,” The New York Times Magazine, May 7, 2006. Our enduring thanks to K. Anders Ericsson; his work and that of his many fascinating colleagues is well represented in Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich, and Robert R. Hoffman, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006). For related books on the topic, see Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code (Bantam, 2009); Geoff Colvin, Talent Is Overrated (Portfolio, 2008); and Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers (Little, Brown & Co., 2008).

98 PRIZE-LINKED SAVINGS: For a fuller treatment of this topic, see Stephen J. Dubner, “Could a Lottery Be the Answer to America’s Poor Savings Rate?,” Freakonomics Radio, November 18, 2010; and Dubner, “Who Could Say No to a ‘No-Lose Lottery?,’ “ Freakonomics Radio, Dec. 2, 2010. These episodes featured interviews with, among many others, Melissa S. Kearney and Peter Tufano, both of whom are extremely knowledgeable about the topic. See, e.g., Kearney, Tufano, Jonathan Guryan, and Erik Hurst, “Making Savers Winners: An Overview of Prize-Linked Saving Products,” in Olivia S. Mitchell and Annamaria Lusardi (eds.), Financial Literacy: Implications for Retirement Security and the Financial Marketplace (Oxford University Press, 2011).

101 KIDS ARE HARDER TO FOOL WITH MAGIC: The Alex Stone section was based primarily on author interviews. See also Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind (HarperCollins, 2012); and Steven D. Levitt, “Fooling Houdini Author Alex Stone Answers Your Questions,”, July 23, 2012. On the point of “paying attention,” Stone acknowledges the insights of the developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009). For further reading on children and illusion, see Bruce Bower, “Adults Fooled by Visual Illusion, But Not Kids,” ScienceNews via, November 23, 2009; and Vincent H. Gaddis, “The Art of Honest Deception,”

104 ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER WRITING FOR KIDS: See Singer, “Why I Write for Children,” prepared for a 1970 award-acceptance speech, read at his 1978 Nobel acceptance speech, and reprinted in Singer, Nobel Lecture (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979). Thanks to Jonathan Rosen for bringing this (along with many other good things) to our attention.


105 AMANDA AND THE M&M’S: A charming animated version of this story appears in Freakonomics: The Movie. Chad Troutwine was the lead producer of the film; the director Seth Gordon headed up the team that created the Amanda section.

107 THE AVERAGE U.S. ADULT WEIGHS ABOUT 25 POUNDS MORE TODAY THAN A FEW DECADES AGO: See Centers for Disease Control, “Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960-2002”; USDA, “Profiling Food Consumption in America,” chapter 2 in the Agriculture Factbook 2001-2002; USDA “Percent of Household Final Consumption Expenditures Spent on Food, Alcoholic Beverages, and Tobacco That Were Consumed at Home, by Selected Countries, 2012,” ERS Food Expenditure Series. / 107 Why have we gotten so fat?: There is a large and sometimes confusing literature on the relationship between food and price, with considerable dissent over the methodology of measuring food costs. Some researchers, for instance, take issue with the cost-per-calorie method. Two examples: Fred Kuchler and Hayden Stewart, “Price Trends Are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods,” Report ERR-55, USDA Economic Research Service; and Andrea Carlson and Elizabeth Frazao, “Are Healthy Foods Really More Expensive? It Depends on How You Measure the Price,” USDA Economic Information Bulletin 96 (May 2012). Among the research that most closely represents what we’ve written in this chapter, see: Michael Grossman, Erdal Tekin, and Roy Wada, “Food Prices and Body Fatness Among Youths,” NBER working paper, June 2013; Stephen J. Dubner, “100 Ways to Fight Obesity,” Freakonomics Radio, March 27, 2013; Pablo Monsivais and Adam Drewnowski, “The Rising Cost of Low-Energy-Density Foods,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107, no. 12 (December 2007); Tara Parker-Pope, “A High Price for Healthy Food,” The New York Times (Well blog), December 5, 2007; Cynthia L. Ogden, Cheryl D. Fryar, Margaret D. Carroll, and Katherine M. Flegal, “Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960-2002,” Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics 347 (National Center for Health Statistics, 2004); David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser, and Jesse M. Shapiro, “Why Have Americans Become More Obese?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 17, no. 3 (Summer 2003).

108 CONSIDER A 2011 TRAFFIC ACCIDENT: See Josh Tapper, “Did Chinese Laws Keep Strangers from Helping Toddler Hit by Truck,” The (Toronto) Star, October 18, 2011; Li Wenfang, “Hospital Offers Little Hope for Girl’s Survival,” China Daily, October 17, 2011; Michael Wines, “Bystanders’ Neglect of Injured Toddler Sets Off Soul-Searching on Web Sites in China,” New York Times, October 11, 2011. Thanks to Robert Alan Greevy for bringing this story to our attention.

109 CASH FOR GRADES: See Steven D. Levitt, John A. List, Susanne Neckermann, and Sally Sadoff, “The Impact of Short-Term Incentives on Student Performance,” University of Chicago working paper, September 2011; and Roland G. Fryer Jr., “Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 126, no. 4 (2011).

112 ROBERT CIALDINI’S EXPERIMENTS WITH ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION AND PETRIFIED-WOOD THEFT: Drawn from author interviews with Cialdini as reflected in Stephen J. Dubner, “Riding the Herd Mentality,” Freakonomics Radio, June 21, 2012. Cialdini’s book Influence is a fantastic introduction to his way of thinking. See also: Jessica M. Nolan, P. Wesley Schultz, Robert B. Cialdini, Noah J. Goldstein, and Vladas Griskevicius, “Normative Social Influence Is Underdetected,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 34, no. 913 (2008); Goldstein, Cialdini, and Steve Martin, Yes!: 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion (Free Press, 2008); Schultz, Nolan, Cialdini, Goldstein, and Griskevicius, “The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms,” Psychological Science 18, no. 5 (2007); Cialdini, Linda J. Demaine, Brad J. Sagarin, Daniel W. Barrett, Kelton Rhoads, and Patricia L. Winter, “Managing Social Norms for Persuasive Impact,” Social Influence 1, no. 1 (2006); Cialdini, “Crafting Normative Messages to Protect the Environment,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 12 (2003). In the petrified-wood study, there were other sign options, including one that showed a park visitor stealing wood, accompanied by the message “Please don’t remove petrified wood from the park.” This sign did outperform the no-sign option.

117 BRIAN MULLANEY, SMILE TRAIN, AND “ONCE-AND-DONE”: This section was drawn primarily from author interviews with Mullaney, an unpublished memoir by Mullaney, and the research reflected in Amee Kamdar, Steven D. Levitt, John A. List, and Chad Syverson, “Once and Done: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Increase Charitable Contributions,” University of Chicago working paper, 2013. See also: Stephen J. Dubner and Levitt, “Bottom-Line Philanthropy,” New York Times Magazine, March 9, 2008; and James Andreoni, “Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving,” The Economic Journal 100, no. 401 (June 1990). For another version of the “once-and-done” story, see Uri Gneezy and List, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life (Public Affairs, 2013). / 119 Peter Buffett and “conscience laundering”: See Peter Buffett, “The Charitable-Industrial Complex,” New York Times, July 26, 2013. For a related conversation with Buffett, on the topic of his having won “the ovarian lottery”—he is a son of Warren Buffett—see Dubner, “Growing Up Buffett,” May 13, 2011.

127 ENTER THE PING-PONG TEAMS: See Henry A. Kissinger, On China (Penguin, 2011); “Ping-Pong Diplomacy (April 6-17, 1971),”; David A. DeVoss, “Ping-Pong Diplomacy,” Smithsonian, April 2002; “The Ping Heard Round the World,” Time, April 26, 1971.

128 ZAPPOS: This section was based in part on author interviews with Tony Hsieh and a visit to Zappos headquarters. See also: Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Business Plus, 2010); Hsieh, “How I Did It: Zappos’s CEO on Going to Extremes for Customers,” Harvard Business Review, July 2010; Robin Wauters, “Amazon Closes Zappos Deal, Ends Up Paying $1.2 Billion,” TechCrunch, November 2, 2009; Hsieh, “Amazon Closing,”, November 2, 2009; Alexandra Jacobs, “Happy Feet,” The New Yorker, September 14, 2009. “You guys are just the best” testimonial on by Jodi M., February 21, 2006.

131 MEXICO CITY HAS LONG SUFFERED FROM DREADFUL TRAFFIC JAMS: See Lucas W. Davis, “The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Air Quality in Mexico City,” Journal of Political Economy 116, no. 1 (2008); and Gunnar S. Eskeland and Tarhan Feyzioglu, “Rationing Can Backfire: The Day Without a Car in Mexico City,” World Bank Policy Research Dept., December 1995.

131 HFC-23 AND PAYING POLLUTERS TO POLLUTE: “Phasing Out of HFC-23 Projects,” Verified Carbon Standard, January 1, 2014; “Explosion of HFC-23 Super Greenhouse Gases Is Expected,” Environmental Investigation Agency press release, June 24, 2013; EIA, “Two Billion Tonne Climate Bomb: How to Defuse the HFC-23 Problem,” June 2013; “U.N. CDM Acts to Halt Flow of Millions of Suspect HFC-23 Carbon Credits”; Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew W. Lehren, “Profits on Carbon Credits Drive Output of a Harmful Gas,” New York Times, August 8, 2012.

133 “THE COBRA EFFECT”: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Cobra Effect,” Freakonomics Radio, October 11, 2012; Horst Siebert, Der Kobra-Effekt: Wie man Irrwege der Wirtschaftspolitik vermeidet (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2001); Sipho Kings, “Catch 60 Rats, Win a Phone,” Mail & Guardian (South Africa), October 26, 2012. / 133 As Mark Twain once wrote … : See Mark Twain, Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review, ed. Michael Kiskis (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990). We are grateful to Jared Morton for bringing this quote to our attention.


137 KING SOLOMON: The biblical quotes here are from The Tanakh (Jewish Publication Societies, 1917). The story of Solomon and the maternity dispute can be found beginning at 1 Kings 3:16. We also relied on Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Biblical Literacy (William Morrow, 1997). There is a great deal of commentary surrounding this story, as there is with many biblical tales. For a good modern summary, which includes ancient commentary, see Mordecai Kornfeld, “King Solomon’s Wisdom,” Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld’s Weekly Parasha-Page; and Baruch C. Cohen, “The Brilliant Wisdom of King Solomon,” Jewish Law Commentary, July 10, 1998. Both of these interpretations stress the incentives presented by yibbum, “a rite which must be performed when a man who has a living brother dies childless.” The Solomon story has also been dissected by nonbiblical scholars, including the economists Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff in The Art of Strategy (Norton, 2008). Dixit and Nalebuff approach the story as a game-theory puzzle and conclude that the second woman erred in agreeing with King Solomon to divide the child in half. Indeed, why would the second woman go to the trouble to steal the baby and then so blithely agree to have it killed? Also, once the first woman renounced ownership, why wouldn’t the second woman simply keep quiet and accept the baby? By this reckoning, Solomon “was more lucky than wise,” write Dixit and Nalebuff. “[H]is strategy worked only because of the second woman’s error.” The economists’ interpretation, we should note, relies on a literality that many biblical scholars are careful to avoid in pursuit of less utilitarian insights.

138 DAVID LEE ROTH: See Jane Rocca, “What I Know About Women,” Brisbane Times, April 7, 2013; David Lee Roth, “Brown M&Ms,” online video clip on Van Halen’s Vimeo channel, 2012; Scott R. Benarde, Stars of David: Rock ’n’ Roll’s Jewish Stories (Brandeis University Press, 2003); David Lee Roth, Crazy from the Heat (Hyperion, 1997); Mikal Gilmore, “The Endless Party,” Rolling Stone, September 4, 1980. Portions of the Van Halen rider are posted on; special thanks to Mike Peden for verifying the Van Halen rider details, via the files of Jack Belle.

144 MEDIEVAL ORDEALS: See Peter T. Leeson, “Ordeals,” Journal of Law and Economics 55 (August 2012). For further Leeson reading, see “Gypsy Law,” Public Choice 155 (June 2013); The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates (Princeton Univ. Press, 2009); “An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization,” Journal of Political Economy 115, no. 6 (2007); and “Trading with Bandits,” Journal of Law and Economics 50 (May 2007). We are grateful to Leeson for his helpful comments on our manuscript.

149 THE HIGH COST OF EMPLOYEE TURNOVER: See Mercer and the National Retail Federation, “U.S. Retail Compensation and Benefits Survey,” October 2013; Jordan Melnick, “Hiring’s New Frontier,”, September 2012; and Melnick, “More Than Minimum Wage,”, November 2011.

150 A WORKER WITH A FOUR-YEAR DEGREE EARNS ABOUT 75 PERCENT MORE: See “Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators” (OECD, 2013).

150 ZAPPOS AND “THE OFFER”: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Upside of Quitting,” September 30, 2011; Stacey Vanek-Smith conducted the interview with Tony Hsieh and other Zappos employees. Thanks to various Zappos employees for follow-up interviews. / 151 It costs an average of roughly $4,000 to replace a single employee: See Arindrajit Dube, Eric Freeman, and Michael Reich, “Employee Replacement Costs,” U.C.-Berkeley working paper, 2010. / 151 A single bad hire can cost … : Drawn from a CareerBuilder survey by Harris Interactive.

152 THE SECRET BULLET FACTORY AND THE WARM-BEER ALARM: Based primarily on author visit to the site, with follow-up correspondence with Yehudit Ayalon. See also: Eli Sa’adi, The Ayalon Institute: Kibbutzim Hill—Rehovot(pamphlet, available on-site).

154 WHY DO NIGERIAN SCAMMERS SAY THEY ARE FROM NIGERIA? This section was drawn from author interviews with Cormac Herley and from Herley’s fascinating paper “Why Do Nigerian Scammers Say They Are from Nigeria?,” Workshop on Economics of Information Security, Berlin, June 2012. Thanks to Nathan Myhrvold for bringing Herley’s paper to our attention. / 154 Dear Sir/Madam, TOP SECRET: This letter is a mashup of various scam e-mails, a catalog of which can be found at, a community of scam baiters. Our letter draws heavily on one letter in a thread entitled “A Convent Schoolgirl Goes Missing in Africa.” / 157 Firm numbers are hard to come by: For overall fraud amount, see Ross Anderson, et al., “Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime,” paper presented at the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security, Berlin, Germany, June 26, 2012; and Internet Crime Complaint Center, “2012 Internet Crime Report,” 2013. / 157 One California victim lost $5 million: See Onell R. Soto, “Fight to Get Money Back a Loss,” San Diego Union-Tribune, August 14, 2004. / 158 Roughly 95 percent of the burglar alarms … are false alarms: See Stephen J. Dubner, “The Hidden Cost of False Alarms,” Freakonomics Radio, April 5, 2012; Rana Sampson, Problem-Oriented Guides for Police: False Burglar Alarms, 2nd ed., 2011; and Erwin A. Blackstone, Andrew J. Buck, Simon Hakim, “Evaluation of Alternative Policies to Combat False Emergency Calls,” Evaluation and Program Planning 28 (2005). / 158 False positives in cancer screening: National Cancer Institute, “Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial”; Virginia A. Moyer, on behalf of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, “Screening for Ovarian Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement,” Annals of Internal Medicine 157, no. 12 (December 18, 2012); Denise Grady, “Ovarian Cancer Screenings Are Not Effective, Panel Says,” New York Times, September 10, 2012; J. M. Croswell, B. S. Kramer, A. R. Kreimer, et al., “Cumulative Incidence of False-Positive Results in Repeated, Multimodal Cancer Screening,” Annals of Family Medicine 7 (2009). / 159 Millions of PC’s sent into never-ending reboot: See Declan McCullagh, “Buggy McAfee Update Whacks Windows XP PCs,” CNET, April 21, 2010; Gregg Keizer, “Flawed McAfee Update Paralyzes Corporate PCs,” Computerworld, April 21, 2010; and “McAfee delivers a false-positive detection of the W32/wecorl.a virus when version 5958 of the DAT file is used,” Microsoft online support. More information can be found in Cormac Herley’s paper. / 161 “There’s a chatbot psychotherapist”: See

161 WHY TERRORISTS SHOULDN’T BUY LIFE INSURANCE: See Steven D. Levitt, “Identifying Terrorists Using Banking Data,” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 12, no. 3 (November 2012); Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, SuperFreakonomics, Chapter 2, “Why Should Suicide Bombers Buy Life Insurance?” (William Morrow, 2009); and Dubner, “Freakonomics: What Went Right?,”, March 20, 2012. / 164 “I’m not sure why we’re telling the terrorists this secret”: See Sean O’Grady, “Super Freakonomics,” The Independent on Sunday, October 18, 2009. / 165 Encouraging the guilty to “ambush only themselves”: Proverbs 1:18, New International Version.


167 FIRST, UNDERSTAND HOW HARD THIS WILL BE: Much of this section is drawn from the work of the Cultural Cognition Project and author interviews with Dan Kahan and Ellen Peters as presented in Stephen J. Dubner, “The Truth Is Out There … Isn’t It?,” Freakonomics Radio, November 30, 2011. The CCP’s website is an excellent resource for their work. For the climate-change topic, see Kahan, Peters, Maggie Wittlin, Paul Slovic, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Donald Braman, and Gregory Mandel, “The Polarizing Impact of Science Literacy and Numeracy on Perceived Climate Change Risks, Nature Climate Change 2 (2012). (For an earlier version of that paper, see Kahan et al., “The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Culture Conflict, Rationality Conflict, and Climate Change,” Cultural Cognition Project working paper no. 89. Further information on the numeracy and science-literacy questions can be found in these papers as well as in Joshua A. Weller et al., “Development and Testing of an Abbreviated Numeracy Scale: A Rasch Analysis Approach,” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 26 (2012). / 168 The vast majority of climate scientists believe the world is getting hotter: See, e.g., Chris D. Thomas et al., “Extinction Risk from Climate Change,” Nature 427 (January 2004); Camille Parmesan and Gary Yohe, “A Globally Coherent Fingerprint of Climate Change Impacts Across Natural Systems,” Nature 421 (January 2003); Gian-Reto Walther et al., “Ecological Responses to Recent Climate Change,” Nature 416 (March 2002); and Peter M. Cox et al., “Acceleration of Global Warming Due to Carbon-Cycle Feedbacks in a Coupled Climate Model,” Nature 408 (November 2000). / 168 But the American public is far less concerned: See John Cook et al., “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature,” Environmental Research Letters 8, no. 2 (May 2013). / 168 Pew polls and attitudes about scientists: See Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media” (2009, Pew Research Center). / 171 Terrorists, for example, tend to be significantly better educated than their peers: See Alan B. Krueger, What Makes a Terrorist (Princeton University Press, 2007); Claude Berrebi, “Evidence About the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians,” Princeton University Industrial Relations Section working paper, 2003; and Krueger and Jita Maleckova, “Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 17, no. 4 (Fall 2003). / 172 Trying to keep a public men’s room clean?: See Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge (Yale University Press, 2008). / 172 “… We are also blind to our blindness”: See Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux). / 173 “It’s easier to jump out of a plane”: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “20 Things Boys Can Do to Become Men,”, October 2013.

173 HOW MUCH DID THE ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN CUT DRUG USE?: See Robert Hornik, Lela Jacobsohn, Robert Orwin, Andrea Piesse, Graham Kalton, “Effects of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign on Youths,” American Journal of Public Health 98, no. 12 (December 2008).

174 SELF-DRIVING CARS: Among the many people who informed our thinking on the driverless-car future, we are especially indebted to Raj Rajkumar and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon, who let us ride in their driverless vehicle and answered every question. / 175 Google has already driven its fleet of autonomous cars: See Angela Greiling Keane, “Google’s Self-Driving Cars Get Boost from U.S. Agency,”, May 30, 2013; “The Self-Driving Car Logs More Miles on New Wheels,” Google official blog, August 7, 2012. (Our text contains updated mile figures from a Google spokesperson as of October 2013.) / 174 Ninety percent of traffic deaths due to driver error: Per Bob Joop Goos, chairman of the International Organization for Road Accident Prevention; also per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. / 174 Worldwide traffic deaths: Most of the statistics in this section are drawn from World Health Organization and NHTSA reports. / 175 In many U.S. cities, 30 to 40 percent of the downtown surface area is devoted to parking: See Stephen J. Dubner, “Parking Is Hell,” Freakonomics Radio, March 13, 2013; Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking (American Planning Association, 2011); Eran Ben-Joseph, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking(Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012); Catherine Miller, Carscape: A Parking Handbook (Washington Street Press, 1988); John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle, Lots of Parking: Land Use in a Car Culture (University of Virginia, 2004). / 176 Nearly 3 percent of the U.S. workforce … feed their families by driving: From a May 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The largest single category is heavy trucks and tractor-trailers, with more than 1.5 million drivers. / 178 In wealthy countries, this is easily the leading cause of death for kids: Per the World Health Organization, the share of traffic deaths is lower in less-developed countries, where many children die from pneumonia, diarrhea, and the like. / 179 During this period of zero airline deaths, more than 140,000 Americans died in traffic crashes: See Stephen J. Dubner, “One Thought About the Two Deaths in Asiana Airlines Flight 214,”, July 8, 2013. For the difference between car and plane travel as discussed in the footnote, we relied on statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (for car data) and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (for airplane data).

180 HAVE WE MENTIONED THAT NAME-CALLING IS A REALLY BAD IDEA IF YOU WANT TO PERSUADE SOMEONE?: Among the most accomplished name-callers in the modern era is the New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman. A political liberal, he has referred to conservatives as “mean-spirited class warriors” who are “wrong about everything,” who “quite literally have no idea what they’re doing,” and “have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party”—all in just three weeks’ worth of columns. / 180 Negative information “weighs more heavily on the brain”: See Tiffany A. Ito, Jeff T. Larsen, N. Kyle Smith, and John T. Cacioppi, “Negative Information Weighs More Heavily on the Brain: The Negativity Bias in Evaluative Categorizations,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75, no. 4 (1998). / 180 “Bad is stronger than good”: See Roy F. Baumeister, Ellen Bratslavsky, Catrin Finkenauer, Kathleen D. Vohs, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” Review of General Psychology 5, no. 4 (2001). For more on this subject from Vohs, see Stephen J. Dubner, “Legacy of a Jerk,” Freakonomics Radio, July 19, 2012. / 180 Negative events … make an outsize impression on our memories: As the late, great historian Barbara Tuchman wrote in A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (Knopf, 1978): “Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening—on a lucky day—without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena. This has led me to formulate Tuchman’s Law, as follows: ‘The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold’ (or any figure the reader would care to supply).” / 180 Consider a recent study of German schoolteachers: See Thomas Unterbrink et al., “Parameters Influencing Health Variables in a Sample of 949 German Teachers,” International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, May 2008.

182 IF BEING FAT IS A BAD THING, THEN EATING FAT MUST ALSO BE BAD: See, among many others, Robert H. Lustig, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease (Hudson Street Press, 2012); and the research of Dr. Peter Attia of the Nutrition Science Initiative as discussed in Stephen J. Dubner, “100 Ways to Fight Obesity,” Freakonomics Radio, March 27, 2013.

184 THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ETHICAL FAILURE: Author interviews with Steve Epstein and Jeff Green, as featured in Stephen J. Dubner, “Government Employees Gone Wild,” Freakonomics Radio, July 18, 2013. See Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, Dept. of Defense, Office of General Counsel, Standards of Conduct Office (July 2012); Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure: 2013 Updates, same publisher; and Jonathan Karp, “At the Pentagon, an ‘Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure,’ ” Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2007.

185 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: This version of the Ten Commandments is drawn from the Jewish Publication Society’s 1917 English Translation of the Tanakh, with an assist from the version contained in Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy (William Morrow, 1991). Throughout history and among different religious groups, the Ten Commandments have been rendered in a variety of ways due to differences in translation, interpretation, length, and the fact that they appear twice in the Torah, first in Exodus and then in Deuteronomy. It is also important to note that the first of the commandments isn’t actually a commandment but rather a declaration. Accordingly, the list is known in Hebrew as Aseret ha-Dibrot, the Ten Statements, rather than Aseret ha-Mitzvot, the Ten Commandments. / 186 Ten Commandments vs. the Big Mac vs. The Brady Bunch: Drawn from a report by Kelton Research, “Motive Marketing: Ten Commandments Survey” (September 2007); and Reuters Wire, “Americans Know Big Macs Better Than Ten Commandments,”, October 12, 2007.

187 CONSIDER ONE MORE STORY FROM THE BIBLE: This can be found in II Samuel: 12. We are indebted to Jonathan Rosen for bringing to our attention how perfectly this story illustrated our point. Some of the words used to tell it here are his, as we could not improve upon them.

188 ANTON CHEKHOV AND WHERE TO “CUT INTO” A STORY: For this insight, we are indebted to a long-ago writing seminar taught by the great Richard Locke.


190 CHURCHILL AND “NEVER GIVE IN”: Transcript provided by the Churchill Centre at

190 “A QUITTER NEVER WINS, AND A WINNER NEVER QUITS”: In 1937, a self-help pundit named Napoleon Hill included that phrase in his very popular book Think and Grow Rich. Hill was inspired in part by the rags-to-riches industrialist Andrew Carnegie. These days the phrase is often attributed to Vince Lombardi, the legendarily tough football coach. For another discussion of the idea presented in this chapter, with stories of several different quitters, see Stephen J. Dubner, “The Upside of Quitting,” Freakonomics Radio, September 30, 2011.

191 THE CONCORDE FALLACY: See Richard Dawkins and H. Jane Brockmann, “Do Digger Wasps Commit the Concorde Fallacy?,” Animal Behavior 28, 3 (1980); Dawkins and T. R. Carlisle, “Parental Investment, Mate Desertion and a Fallacy,” Nature 262, no. 131 (July 8, 1976).

191 OPPORTUNITY COST IS HARDER: For a lovely and insightful essay that touches on the concept of opportunity cost, see Frédéric Bastiat, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,” Selected Essays on Political Economy, first published 1848; published 1995 by The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.

192 MICHAEL BLOOMBERG AND FAILURE: See James Bennet, “The Bloomberg Way,” The Atlantic, November 2012.

193 INTELLECTUAL VENTURES AND THE SELF-STERILIZING SURFACE: Based on author interviews with Geoff Deane and other Intellectual Ventures scientists. See also Katie Miller, “Q&A: Five Good Questions,” Intellectual Ventures Lab blog, August 9, 2012; Nathan Myhrvold, TEDMED 2010; and Nick Vu, “Self-Sterilizing Surfaces,” Intellectual Ventures Lab blog, November 18, 2010. The primary patents on the UV self-sterilizing surface are numbers 8,029,727, 8,029,740, 8,114,346, and 8,343,434.

197 THE CHALLENGER EXPLOSION: See Allan J. McDonald and James R. Hansen, Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster (University Press of Florida, 2009); also see Joe Atkinson, “Engineer Who Opposed Challenger Launch Offers Personal Look at Tragedy,” Researcher News (NASA), October 5, 2012; and “Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident,” June 6, 1986.

199 THE “PREMORTEM”: See Gary Klein, “Performing a Project Premortem,” Harvard Business Review, September 2007; Beth Veinott, Klein, and Sterling Wiggins, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of the PreMortem Technique on Plan Confidence,” Proceedings of the 7th International ISCRAM Conference (May, 2010); Deborah J. Mitchell, J. Edward Russo, Nancy Pennington, “Back to the Future: Temporal Perspective in the Explanation of Events,” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 2, no. 1 (1989). Thanks to Danny Kahneman for bringing the idea to our attention.

199 CARSTEN WROSCH AND THE TOLL OF NOT QUITTING: See Carsten Wrosch, Gregory E. Miller, Michael F. Scheier, Stephanie Brun de Pontet, “Giving Up on Unattainable Goals: Benefits for Health?,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 33, no. 2 (February 2007). For a fuller treatment, see Stephen J. Dubner, “The Upside of Quitting,” Freakonomics Radio, June 30, 2011.

200 FREAKONOMICS EXPERIMENTS: The website is still active as of this writing and can flip a coin for you, but the long-term tracking study is no longer functional. For Steve Levitt’s fuller discussion on the topic, see Stephen J. Dubner, “Would You Let a Coin Toss Decide Your Future?” Freakonomics Radio, January 31, 2013. Perhaps the most heartbreaking write-in question we received: “Should I leave my son with my wife until she dies from cancer (approx. 8 months) so I can work in Africa to support my family, or should I turn down the job in Africa and stay in the U.S. to be near my son as I go broke?”

207 COPS AND THE WRITERS’ STRIKE: See Associated Press, “Strike May Test Reality TV’s Staying Power,” November 27, 2007.

210 WINSTON CHURCHILL AS “THE GREATEST OF ALL BRITAIN’S WAR LEADERS”: See John Keegan, “Winston Churchill,” Time, June 24, 2001. Thanks to Jonathan Rosen for conversations on this topic and to the author and Churchill scholar Barry Singer for his continuing guidance on the topic.



* Family firms in Japan have a long-standing solution to this problem: they find a new CEO from outside the family and legally adopt him. That is why nearly 100 percent of adoptees in Japan are adult males.

* See Notes for all underlying research citations and other background information.


* The Nobel economics award, instituted in 1969, is not one of the original and therefore official Nobel Prizes, which since 1906 have been issued in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. Instead, the economics award is officially called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. There are continuing arguments as to whether the economics award should in fact be called a “Nobel Prize.” While we sympathize with the historians and semanticists who argue against it, we see no harm in conforming to what has become the accepted usage.


* In defense, however, of Germanic Catholicism: a new research project by Spenkuch argues that Protestants were roughly twice as likely as Catholics to vote for the Nazis.


* It is not even clear that sophistication is such a worthy goal. The word is derived from the Greek sophists—“itinerant teachers of philosophy and rhetoric who didn’t enjoy a good reputation,” one scholar writes; they were “more concerned with winning arguments than arriving at the truth.”

* Interestingly, about 30 percent of the Chinese kids who were offered free glasses didn’t want them. Some feared that wearing glasses at a young age would ultimately weaken their eyes. Another big fear was being teased. Happily, the “four-eyes” stigma has been reversed elsewhere, especially in the United States, where pop stars and top athletes wear non-prescription glasses as a pure style accessory. By some estimates, a few million Americans routinely wear such “planos”—eyeglasses with plain lenses.


* Another weird Solomon-Roth commonality: the titles of both of their number-one songs include only a single imperative verb.

* As careful readers will recall, the competitive-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi tore his hot dogs in half in order to eat them faster, a move that came to be known as the Solomon Method. An even more careful reader will note this is a misnomer, for while King Solomon threatened to cut the disputed baby in half, he didn’t actually do it.

* The fact that this chapter and the previous one include stories about nontraditional uses of M&M’s is entirely coincidental. We have received no product-placement or endorsement money from Mars, the maker of M&M’s—although in retrospect we are sort of embarrassed that we didn’t.


* Here are the answers to the numeracy questions, followed by the percentage of respondents who answered them correctly. (1) 500 (58 percent). (2) 5 cents (12 percent). (This question is plainly trickier than it appears. If it tripped you up—you likely thought the ball cost 10 cents—go back and read it again, focusing on the word more.) And now the science questions: (1) True (86 percent). (2) True (69 percent). (3) False (68 percent).

* In the accumulation of those 500,000 miles, Google’s driverless cars were involved in two accidents, but in each case, the car was not in self-driving mode and was being operated by a human. In the first accident, the Google car was rear-ended at a stoplight; in the second, the Google driver got into a fender-bender while manually driving the car.

* As vast as the difference is between car and airplane deaths, we should point out that there is not quite as much variance in the death rate per mile, as people travel considerably more miles in cars than on planes. In a given year, drivers in the United States cover nearly 3 trillion miles (and that doesn’t include the miles ridden by passengers) while airline passengers in the States fly about 570 billion (or .57 trillion) miles.


* In retrospect, Levitt may have given up too easily. That squat fourteen-year-old was Tim “Lumpy” Herron, who as of this writing is approaching his twentieth year on the PGA Tour, with career earnings of more than $18 million.

* Interestingly, the idea for Cops had been floating around for years but it didn’t get the green light until the Writers Guild strike of 1988. Suddenly, the networks were more interested in its cinema verité. “[A] series with no narrator, no host, no script, no re-enactments sounded very good to them at the time,” recalled John Langley, the show’s co-creator.

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