Skip to content

Freakonomics Experiments

Stephen Dubner writes:

Freakonomics Experiments is a set of simple experiments about complex issues—whether to break up with your significant other, quit your job, or start a diet, just to name a few. . . . a collaboration between researchers at the University of Chicago, Freakonomics, and—we hope!—you. Steve Levitt and John List, of the University of Chicago, run the experimental and statistical side of things. Stephen Dubner, Steve Levitt, and the Freakonomics staff have given these experiments the Freakonomics twist you’re used to. Once you flip the coin, you become a member of the most important part of the collaboration, the Freakonomics Experiments team. Without your participation, we couldn’t complete any of this research. . . .

You’ll choose a question that you are facing today, such as whether to quit your job or buy a house. Then you’ll provide us some background information about yourself. After that, you’ll flip the coin to find out what you should do in your situation. What the coin comes up—heads or tails—is completely random.

Here’s the website. It’s a fun idea, and one thing they’ll learn is how often people say they could follow the suggested advice.

One Comment

  1. Steve Sailer says:

    I was fascinated by John List’s take on what of the most popular social science theories to emerge in recent decades: stereotype threat.

    If List’s view is correct, based on an experiment he, Levitt, and Fryer did, stereotype threat should become Exhibit A in the Hall of Shame for how to do bad social science.