stephen dubner

stephen dubner.png

intro’d to Stephen and adding page this day.. via fb share by ideapod

If we are going to solve the challenges in front of us, we need intelligent people to be at their very best.

Loners Are More Intelligent, But This Is The Shocking Way Society Holds Them Back

1 min clip from bigthink:

Steven Dubner: Understand the Nature of Creativity — and Success.

irony in trying to get people to do best work.. very often kind of characteristics common to someone who will have a good idea.. no overlap with someone who is really good at presenting in meetings..

if you do traditional route of trying to encourage innovation by having meetings.. brainstorm.. problem is ..people who might be best at innovating.. are worst at presenting in a meeting.. or selling their ideas..

one evidence.. many true innovators don’t work in groups.. you have to fail a lot when you innovate..and failure in a public setting can really hurt your self-esteem/confidence

need to create an environment where people really can be empowered to fail..

spaces of permission..

oy – after listening to google talk – below.. he’s countering this whole idea.. with saying ed is #1 roi.. and talking of fake diplomas.. can’t you see that ed as we know it is one big meeting that keeps curiosity at bay..?


here’s another clip (9 min) from bigthink.. not quite to resonating..

we could all benefit … from thinking more like children

1 yr to be 5 ness

ask a lot of questions that aren’t considered questions people ask in good company

thinking small.. runs counter to philosophy to arena of.. big think..

big problems are by their nature.. really hard to solve.. a lot of people.. ie: education reform.. dealing w/set of institutions that have gotten to where they are through calcification and many acts of history.. a lot of things a few people did… now to change that would change entire way.. therefore.. attacking any big problem.. really hard.. and spend a lot of resources.. attacking a problem can’t make any headway on..

a lot of people thinking big.. let people who are trying to think big.. go.. why don’t you try to think small.. peel off part of problem..

ugh part\ial ness

getting political and capital will to support solving big problem can be harder than solving the problem.. so if can peel off.. and someone else peels off small piece.. ie: ed reform..



“Think Like A Freak” by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt

think like a child – we don’t rule anything out.. we try to think really small.. go for the obvious…

follow your curiosity..

only good advice.. best ideas right in front of us.. can’t see them because blinded by conventional wisdom

instead of .. how can i eat more hotdogs.. how can i make one hotdog easier to eat.. asking diff question changed everything.. breaking down.. redefining the problem

whatever problem.. often we define problem wrong..

deep/simple/open enough ness

golfers are much worse than they think.. ie: aim 40 ft to right

upside of quitting…we’ve always been coached to never give up… if facing extinction.. yeah.. but for most of us.. no.. most of think.. sunk cost fallacy.. have sunk too much to quit..

anything you can do to make a happy/creative kid is something that gives them a leg up on the world

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

if trying to persuade.. 1\ give up.. biases most of us carry are so deep.. persuading people is really hard… don’t pretend your argument is perfect..


“When to Rob a Bank” | Talks at Google – 2015

6 min – most remember exactly wrong.. that’s my legacy.. ie: names of kids don’t define anything.. james vs shithead

8 min – my day .. is walking the dog.. looking/thinking about people… then all day.. i sit/read/write.. entirely inconsequential..

9 min – brightest people in econ.. are at opposite poles on most important things..

10 min – when at 1 bn.. said no way we’d have food for 2 bn.. etc.. till today.. have enough for 7 bn..not that everyone has food.. but that’s entirely political/econ failures.. not agri failures..

14 min – try to consider all possible explanations/datas.. one thing with that story.. small

16 min – another ie of how i spend my day.. ie: education.. you guys have many yrs of ed under your belts.. if you look at every form of investment.. single best.. is education.. so.. data pretty overwhelming

you sure..?

higher up scale.. greater roi..

well there’s your problem.. money as os/success indicator.. not happiness.. eudaimonia..

17 min – not only best investment.. best insurance.. against criminal/poor-health.. behaviors..

big debate.. now coming out of college with no job.. then jobs/zuckerberg/gates.. dropping out.. so we did analysis of cost vs success.. and we found out.. still really good..

18 min – expensive and valuable.. so.. are there people who want the value w/o the cost.


finding ways to get data from realms of illicit behavior..

20 min – until you have that data.. you’re guessing..

and after you have data.. you’re assuming it’s true.. now back to steven’s comment in interview.. about conventional wisdom.. oy

20 min – until get data.. ie: why do people do prostitution.. so got data.. grad students with clipboards doing surveys after tricks.. usually surveys data squishy.. but this turned out pretty good..

really? grad students with survey clipboards.. sounds like when we try to survey homeless.. that really can’t be honest.. because then their family would be split up.. kids into foster care et al

22 min – alignment of incentives.. prostitutes off streets.. principal/agent incentives.. and personal/public incentives.. from data what we learned.. a given prostitute in chicago was more likely to have sex w cop for free than be arrested.. findings you *just can’t get without data


23 min – when comes to education.. interested to know.. since so valuable and so expensive.. how many people cheat..

cheat or survival

so is your data legit.. if system is so screwed up..? that we are still saying.. education is #1..

what about voluntary compliance.. what about your talks on how we need to follow curiosity and think like children..

25 min – when show up for job.. don’t ask for degree.. ie: if i’m willing to pay money for fake diploma.. a lot of diff kinds of ways to get fake diploma.. ie: diploma mills..

for 5-6000 $’s can get medical degree from harvard.. approx 1% of college degrees in u.s. totally fake..

27 min – 1 in 100 – totally fictitious degree..

so what.. wilde not-us law.. science of people ness.. you.. a people watcher..

28 min – q&a  ..q: is roi in the paper or the knowledge that you get  a: that’s a question no one can answer

yes.. because depends on what you think a return is.. ie: money or eudaimoniative surplus..

if you could come up with a good way to measure that.. i’d love to know

well – 1\ stop measuring us.. rather.. host-life-bits via self-talk as data.. facil us/curiosity.. as the day

29 min – output.. pitched to all students.. poor

oy – perhaps case where need to zoom out from thinking small ness

34 min – names don’t matter.. not marketing.. like book titles..

36 min – my frustration.. politics/institutional inertia/habits being what they are.. really really hard to make any change..

because we’re focused on money/credential as os.. for roi ness

39 min – if you’re going to do this .. stupid thing.. when is best to do it

46 min – on medicine.. even though a lot of science in it.. most drs aren’t scientific and most are terrible at data… so communicating to patients.. mess… turns out most med isn’t that way.. today.. most that are are pharmas.. most aren’t evidence based.. pretty scary.. even if evidence.. policy makers aren’t crazy about implementation..

again.. zoom out.. perhaps we’re not asking the right questions.. the hot dog .. what if we look at each person .. getting to eudaimonia.. (so less sick.. less drugs..) .. and abandon our constraining systems of roi ness

49 min – in health care evidence medicine is kind of a dream.. in evidence based ed.. starting to come along

serious.. ? oy.. and even if ed coming along.. coming along with wrong data.. back to ie: science of people

50 min – very few people’s ideology are as strong as the incentives they are responding to..

54 min – say goal is for british math scores (which are awful) to rise.. set up project with measureables along the way.. we know how to do that.. say sect of ed and all kinds of people to put in place.. let’s say in 20 yrs.. goals are met.. what’s that worth to society.. a lot.. so what’s wrong therefore with paying people working on that ie: paying politicians more.. as invested stock option.. merit pay in form of stock options.. is a no brainer.. that’s the way the whole world works.. if do well.. paid.. if poorly.. flushed out


find/follow Stephen:

Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and TV and radio personality. In addition to FreakonomicsSuperFreakonomicsThink Like a Freak and When to Rob a Bank, his books include Turbulent Souls (Choosing My Religion), Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, and the children’s book The Boy With Two Belly Buttons. His journalism has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time, and has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Crime Writing, and elsewhere. He has taught English at Columbia University (while receiving an M.F.A. there), played in a rock band (which started at Appalachian State University, where he was an undergrad, and was later signed to Arista Records), and, as a writer, was first published at the age of 11, in Highlights for Children. Dubner is also the host of the Freakonomics Radio podcast, which gets 5 million downloads a month. He lives in New York with his wife, the documentary photographer Ellen Binder, and their children.

Dubner & Levitt:

wikipedia small

Stephen J. Dubner (born August 26, 1963) is an American journalist who has written seven books and numerous articles. Dubner is best known as co-author (with economist Steven Levitt) of the pop-economics bookFreakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, its 2009 sequel, SuperFreakonomicsand its 2014 sequel Think Like a Freak.