« Freakonomics Radio

127. Can You Be Too Smart for Your Own Good? And Other FREAK-quently Asked Questions

2013-05-23 | 🔗
Dubner and Levitt talk about circadian rhythms, gay marriage, autism, and whether "pay what you want" is everything it's cracked up to be.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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calm, slash covered here of all the things that are in your power to do at this very moment in time. What would, you're, very most favorite thing to do. If I could be doing anything right now. What would I be doing probably playing golf right? say you can't play golf. What comes next, probably sleeping, he can't be playing golf or sleeping with third, probably being here talking to you, up,
from W and Y see an ATM american public media. This is brief: economics, radio, the podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host, Stevens Abner every now and then Steve Levin. I ask you: are listening: and readers to send us your questions. Then we try to answer them on this topic. As we call it frequently asked questions, like this question of interesting, though, if we can be of any help from David Rossetti. He says is modern life, more specifically, the fact that we no longer followers circadian rhythm killing us there These rises in diseases, cancer, auto immune, etc in developed countries that do not exist members anywhere close to what they have elsewhere
although no one really knows what's going on so could simply going to bed when it gets dark and waking up when there's late, reduce billions of dollars in health care costs, increase pretty any reduce addictions to alcohol and drugs and depression, Et Cetera, Levitt, akkadian rhythms having to do with rising. Diseases and more broadly, then, tied to cost and productivity. You know anything about that were probably not the right. People to answer David a question which is more of a medical question about. Is there a link between states upon night in and dying of things like cancer and an idea, a challenge. His first premise, which you said cancer and heart disease and other things are always higher in the developed world than in other places in part, is because in the developed world we done so good job at getting rid of the other things that kill you that you gotta do something. So that's the sorts of things at now kill us. Are the diseases have finesse into old age, heart disease cancer things like that, but
being realistic and not knowing the facts but discussing, I cannot imagine that working the night shift in terms of life expectancy could take more than a year off your life, maybe two years, but that they would be amazing to me if the kinds of things were talking about, Could matter that much in it and my guess is actually that accidents accidental death is the greatest thing that gets elevated. When you work the night shift cos you just so darn tired all the time that I end up getting into car crashes and find the stairs and things like that. So if you think, maybe year, less of life expectancy compare that for a minute to let's say an unhealthy habit, whether its very poor diet Let's say smoking. You think that working the night shift continuously throughout your dont life have less of a physiological detriment than the others. You edges my debts, my conjecturing, I don't really know but but whatever it is. What I want to compare it to is the games that we ve
in the modern world that in some ways necessitate a bunch. People stay up all night to make it possible for the rest of us to have a great life and and the gains we ve had in life expectancy over the last hundred years are probably, thirty, five or forty years increased from maybe fifteen just about doubled in the? U S. For a: U S born mail about it about doubled the less of roughly thirty eight to seventy six, again, a lotta that is also hidden in childbirth, death in childbirth, which up to now still higher in the U S and in some countries, but almost went away, and once you get rid of those deaths, it used to be that, once you got to middle age, you did have a relatively good chance, a living longer yeah absolutely. But I I just think it's part of my life that we get tremendous can, option value from being able to you know, go DR late to talk.
The health and get whatever we want to eat and numb. And if we get sick, the hospitals are open and that the capital in the factories can be used productively by doing three chefs instead of to sell it's not perfect, look at all of us would rather be sleep and when his dark and be waken up to the sun and the and the rooster is and stuff like that, but I think that it's a cost Modernity- and maybe the It is highly value lower that cost. What can work in science and technology due to reduce the costs of that they had. One thing I think that we know is that its very difficult to be switching from data, to night time to day to night time, which is what sometimes they do, and police departments and in hospitals. I believe there is a body barons. It says
you just gotta, get used to the night shift. If you do the night shift for years and years and years in a way that moving back and forth is very hard Let me ask you this here's, a question that came in actually kind of two versions of the same question, one from a steed. Adam I deem and one from Miguel Sunday. One asks: is there a hidden costs to intelligence? I feel a lot of people assume wrongly question mark there's a trade off between intellectual and social ability and the other fell ass. Can you be too smart for your own good? I've heard this used. Often, however, attended disagree can be too smart for young good Levitt year, relatively smart guy of their been instances in your life, where you ve been too smart for your own good and do you know anything about it more generally. I can
say I've ever remember being too smart for my own good I've seen other people not tat the biggest thing that happens and academics is that really smart people become convinced that they can. Prick, not just a single person, but they can trick everyone at once. I've seen it a number of times with a smarter. You are the more you think you can get away with it and it ends up being your undoing. The people who are really really smart actually can run circles around but but it's the people who are one not below the very smart ass to have seen, get into a lot of trouble by thinking there too smart. What about the related problem of domain transfer people thinking that it be because their very good, a very smart and one arena. They can develop an attitude of confidence that they think you know people talk about this with doctors, sometimes called the God complex. You think that if you can figure out something like the human body, you can figure just about anything. Do you do you see? Oh yeah, that's what we're doing right now to use we you and
a good. At one thing, you know you're good at writing. I'm good at taken apologize making sense of it, and we sit here and talk like we're going to answer questions about whether my native, exactly what we're doing right now and ended something that you and I ran against all the time and we have some fun with. It is because we know among friends and on that Bach S, but the people listening. I understand that we're just gonna drew unravelling answers. Questions were not really giving the truth. Now, if you go back to that first question: about civil right off the other social tab. I think there are at least two good reasons to believe that people who are intelligent will not possess particularly good social skills, and one of those is that, if I take just example of math ability, there's a lot of evidence that autism is a sort of extreme form
math Venus in tandem thinking like a mathematician or like a scientist, and that that interferes with the way that you think about people and in Europe with people until I ain't there, there still genetic reasons why beings art in a math way might get in the way of being good with people. I think we ve all seen some that the other thing is just what you invest in right. So when you're a kid, if you're smart you investing in the things its markets invest in doing well in school, impressing people try to get caught. Have you not smart? You make a lot of investment and be in social and and and being the cheerleader type or or the homecoming, and those investments are really important. That is that's interests. That's a good points. Let me ask you this, though, about I'm curious hearing. You talk, I think, about gender, so I think two things about gender, one and smartness. So one is you know. Why is the autism spectrum so much more? Why are there so many more males and females? I have a friend
Mehmet OZ, Doktor OZ, who some who have known for a long time before he was famous and he's always been brilliant and kind of grey and he was telling me not long ago, that with boy he's he puts it the way only a scientist were there's a lot, less quality control with boys. He said so for girls, we're gonna be carrying the next generation. Their wiring needs to be kind of further along and boys, who can survive in a different way. But but it makes me think when you're talk about the relation between smartness, any their success or social Billy year, answering from them effective of a male? What about four women? Think women are penalized more for being smart or smarter than their peers than men are and, if so, on, what dimensions of sir lay in the marriage market trade in the dating market. Smart women don't get rewarded in any way like Smart Meng everywhere.
I think we wrote about a little bit of freakonomics. Didn't we about the dating and and and smart men. Men who had a lot of education did quite well that the women who I love it when did poorly? It was more difficult exile. The education for women and the income goes. Both of them were turn off for the other man. If you go back to I can't sixties and you look at the the marriage rate of highly educated women. It was really low that it is shocking below that they were of all the people, decided least likely to be married. It is women who went and got phds, so I think women really do pay. The price for at least historically have paid the price for being too smart and to successful. Although I think that certain data suggested that changing in and that's my feeling as well- there's a lot more room for smart women in society today than there. What is it more room for smart women in society, or is it the matching markets are better. There are better ease.
your ways for smart women to find the man that they want to find than their use? To me, who is certainly true that places likes a common value where he used to be that men who would be say, computer programs, would women. They met in college. I think now they're more likely to marry other women who are computer program or so to the extent that many women are more and more doing the same jobs. I think that that does help very much a successful women to meet to kind of men who are equally successful. but that's also according to some people, including a student mine haze Golden is, is one of the reasons why autism is going up because men who are good at math, are now much more likely to have babies with the women who are good at math, and that seems to be triggering an increase in autism.
Coming up on for economics, radio, since fighting cancer is big business. What's the incentive to find a cure, so I would say: the incentive for cancer is not really a market Then it's a being a hero, kind of incentive.
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would making marriage legal for the algae BT community improve the economy. If so, how much well ass. Nor the tea- I would say, I dont think that would have a big impact on the economy for couple of reasons. First, I think that when you talk about marriage forces, not marriage, if all you're talking about his IST everyone has the same relationship you to change the title of the relationship, then maybe you're talking about having some big weddings, but that to me feels like keynesian economics and the idea that, if there's more demand for things that will make the economy better, but I think I think the
in view of the world? Are these my modern view? The world is that for the economy be better, you need to be better at making things right so that the supply side of the coming productivity is everything right. If we can make workers more productive than we end up being richer but consumption is, you know if people just consumer stuffy. I very much am of the view that things like stimulus governments, team is one I just our very successful is what you need to do is figure how make everybody more productive in produce. Any oh okay. But let's talk about let's say a couple is not married. That wants to be married is not able to versus a couple that wants to marry, is able to legally and some of the economic changes that might take place around that, let's say care consumption or at least paying for healthcare that how much there actually paying let's say station a married couple, she's gonna pay more than to individuals. Not can you imagine anyway around them
avenues in which it has any kind of real impact, or is it still not much of an issue? In your view, he I did sounds to me like a bunch of transfer is here. I don't think that people are gonna. They'll have to make different choices, maybe distort their choices less if they're married, they take the healthcare market. Maybe it's true that, because of small, so coverage people will make a different set of choices, but that seems to me like a crazy way to think about the problem. We have a terrible healthcare system in which in women and health care should not be linked. We should fix that problem. First, not tried it back door through right, but until we fix that problem at least having it linked to one person in a couples- employment, rather than to that an improvement urge this improvement You better triviality here on issues like this. I, whether this or abortion or capital punishment, I mean these
issues that economically are just not very important, I mean just doesn't capital punishment isn't very important. A crime and abortion in dollars and sense is not borne out, but they stand for something much much later. They represent me what American means her or ideology or personal rights or whatever, and the relative importance of the the issues of liberty in fairness and things are have got to be a hundred times bigger than the direct economic impact. So think it's just confusing the issue to even talk about economics, win LISA These are more or less she's, not economic issues. Thou be my my good answer that question given that other junkets- and this is interesting- question
demon, even more bevin. What would be the economic impact of a cheap readily available cure cancer here's the basic scenario he writes imagined. Somehow we find a cure for cancer. That involves something cheap and simple, like drinking spinach, some with every meal. For five days we have entire industries and charities that are geared towards finding cancer cures and treatments. What would be the economic impact of those industry? and charities were suddenly out of the business overnight The reason I ask is because I often are that there is no clear market incentive to find a cure for cancer. Treatments are expensive and there are repeat customers. It's a nice profit a cure- would slowly eliminate the customer base for treatment so other than altruism
where is the incentive for cancer cure side to the incentive for cancer? Is not really a mark incentive, it's a being a hero, kind of incentive that there are so many doctors out their researchers, medical researchers who, if they could be the one who is forever remembered as the one who prevented cancer who govern cancer, they would do anything to do that. I think they are really strong incentives out there now exactly market incentives other. I think that person would be quite rich anyway, but incentives it even more powerful than markets, but on the flip side, his is a really important point in economics. It many people don't understand. It is always better to be able to get something for nothing than that.
after put real resources into doing to any time that we can find a way to get rid of a problem for nothing? We want to do it, so we right now invest enormous resources in trying to fight cancer. But if we didn't have to spend those resources fighting cancer, we would spend them on something else. People liked and the world be a much better place. It's a good example. This is labour liked. Let's say that, instead of taking eight hours for a person to produce in a hundred wallets or whatever their jobs, let's say they could do that and for our sake, abuse hundred. What well. they just bought for three hours of leisure her hand. I would be a great thing that the less labour you need, the less capital you need to make something the better, and so this is, hazy, king in argument about how you need people to be busy need demanded when that gave, but is absolutely for certain
no doubt about it. If you can suddenly make things for free that used to you money, the world is a much better place because he did reallocate all the resources you were quote wasting on on solving cancer before put them to do something else. It also makes me think of on a smaller scale, but not insignificant. What happened in this country, and also with polio right, which is at one point, even though Polly was never that mass a disease it was crippling for those who had if it didn't kill him, crippled them and most of the money was put into treatment. Then there came in for a long time. There was not much thinking about the idea of a vaccine. It wasn't really the main line of thought than that came to be in there. vaccine mentality took and back Dean to vaccines are actually created, so Damon's COS is a little bit like saying. You know. The incentives of the people who make the iron long are so strong that they will prevent anybody else from actually pursuing a vaccine,
as we seen over and over again those aren't the same people. They pursue different paths, getting better if you compare that, though, to something more like car seats. I think it is true that, right now the people who may car seats are the same kind of people who might push for other ways to keep kids in cars and there I think there are more obstacles. It system, world of medicine, the particular farmer companies to make a particular cancer? Don't have disease control over the thousands of medical researchers who are scattered across the globe, trying to solve these problems until an exactly that there's no cartel, which is blocking the production of a cancer vaccine. It's just a really hard the people are trying to make headway on and not yet sexy
blood. Here's a question from Marie She rate since people are genuinely fair and pay for beagles on the honor system. Ok, that's referring to are bagel study. Fr Economics, we can explain now the boy. Why does this now applied a song downloads or do most people pay for music? I do, but my students don't if they can get it for free from their friends or online, is the pay on the honor system only for smaller businesses, where people feel a personal attachment. I think that's a great point. I think that, on these issues of honour, its very predictable, the kinds of factors which make people be honest, one is scrutiny if you know you're being watched your much more likely. To be honest, I think if you believe that the recipient of the money is deserving, you very much
and, to be honest- and I also think that if you are in settings which in general evoke honesty like it happens to be inside of a church or a hospital, I think again who more likely to be honest. Okay. So how do we compare from the beggars which have a lot of these features of scrutiny and the bigger and it was a sort of sympathetic character who who didn't have a lot of money to big business and downloading of songs, and- and I think I hear it's my impression- that there's an amazing generational break where people who grew up having to pay for music when they were young people of our generation donor, understand the idea that you should pay for music, and it doesn't seem strange worth I do they were young people. The natural instinct is that the internet is a place for free things.
And that they deserve to get their music for free. So let me just explain for people's bagel business obits. This was a guy, a former economist in the DC area who distributed bangles awe and in some places, doughnuts American Diabetes Association Office for some reason, consumed like half of his doughnuts everybody else, mostly wanna bales, but he deliver them and put a box out for money, and he would post the price, and he would then come back later to collect the money and it worked. It was an system scheme that work, but I think the key differences, and so too of pizza they're all these pay. What you wish, schemes and honour system schemes that have floated up and left many years. I think that there are a couple. Huge differences between them in the Beagle store that people don't get one. Is it wasn't a pay? What you wish to make a thing there were prices posted the beagle costs, whatever buckin with cream cheese, a buck and a half. So what's interesting to me about this- is not only do a lot of people pay something but
hey exactly the right price in part, because it seems- and we ve written about this a good bit You can really heard people into doing what you want them to do simply by telling them the everybody else is doing it, and by cannot setting the parameters right, let it seems that people are much more willing than they might think too can go along with the herd. Yeah. That's absolutely true, but this is also a case of technology where you and I don't actually know how to steal music I made know how to steal music. I do I don't know. If dummies, I could teach, I'm ok, I think the other thing about the Beagle story that people miss and they try to apply it to other instances, is that he Paul fell. And the big guy huh at some real leverage, which was this. If the payment rate from the whole group in a given office fell below a certain amount, he would stop bringing them bangles and that's what All these other schemes almost never have sit well, they may
and it may be a bright line, but you don't know when you're getting to it. So if you know that thing that you want and its being offered at a price that you have to contribute a certain amount toward will no longer be delivered to a nice, warm bagel to your office, then that's really is altruistic, as people seem to think, and so therefore doesn't surprise me that when there's no leverage exerted that people would steal as much as they can get away with, I think Those terrible out reforms as an aid needed either really good spots. Do you still have ten minutes or now I should. I should probably going to couple actually, I think, we're good, ok, good job, Levin, ok
Great progress, this news next time on for economics, radio, put on that steering wheel, that's right, driverless car is coming, so the problem of the ring, the steering wheel, turn signals everything's being controlled by a few weeks ago. I went for a ride in a driver. This car and I'll tell you all about it next time,
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-15.