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Freakonomics - the WSU seminar

Online Seminar @ Washington State University - Challenging conventional wisdom on economic and ethical issues for topics ranging from drugs and crime to global climate change to war and patriotism.

Last Build Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 11:41:51 -0700


Cartoon: Scary Pumpkin

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 11:41:51 -0700

[Copyright 2003 Jeff Parker. All rights reserved. Florida Today. Note: I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar so please do not redistribute. Thanks. Do you know what is really scary about this cartoon? It's a...

Cartoon: FrankenVeep

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 11:40:01 -0700

[Copyright 2005 Pat Bagley. All rights reserved. Note: I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for Freakonomics, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

The Green Graveyard

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 11:39:14 -0700

To continue with our Halloween special in Freakonomics, let's look at the subject of graveyards, burials, and the economics of death - not a pleasant subject at all, but a fact of life. As land becomes more precious (note that...

Seminar 7: A Scary Wal-Mart Story for Halloween

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 11:38:03 -0700

It's Halloween! A time for ghosts, goblins, witches, and scary stories. So turn down the lights and gather 'round the fireplace tonight boys and girls, and I'll tell you a scary story about Wal-Mart. I'll tell you what that blood...

Un-American Education at WSU?

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:27:06 -0700

Everyone likes to criticize education on a regular basis, even those who obviously need more of it. asked a variety of academics to comment on what they think students should be studying in college. I agree with the author...

Fishy Economics: When Lobster was Fertilizer

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:26:21 -0700

Do you consider lobster dipped in melted butter a decadent feast? Then how would you like to find a nice restaurant that offered a lobster dinner for only $4.00? That used to be the case for restaurants up and down...

Bacon That Glows in the Dark

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:23:50 -0700

I will not eat Green Eggs and Ham. I will not eat them, Sam I Am. - Dr. Seuss I think I've seen green bacon before, but I'm pretty sure it was in the back of our refrigerator. If you...

Cartoon: Social Darwinists

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:23:19 -0700

[Click on Cartoon for Full Size Image: Copyright 2002 Monte Wolverton All rights reserved. Monty Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons. I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

Book Review: Misquoting Jesus

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:22:30 -0700

[Image from Wikipedia: A Bible handwritten in Latin, on display in Malmesbury Abbey, England. This Bible was written in Belgium in 1407 AD, for reading aloud in a monastery] While completing the seminar on Intelligent Design, I became interested in...

Cartoon: Education and the Religious Right

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:22:03 -0700

[Click on Cartoon for Full Size Image: Copyright 2006 Pat Bagley All rights reserved. Pate Bagley, Salt Lake Tribue. I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

Seminar 9: Intelligent Design and the Limits of Science and Religion

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:21:30 -0700

Humans have wondered since the dawn of our intellect about the origin and meaning of life and the final consequences of death. Self awareness, a characteristic of sentient beings, is a foundation of humanity as is our awareness of death...

Cartoon: Designer Monkeys

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:20:55 -0700

[Click on Cartoon for Full Size Image: Copyright 2005 Larry Wright All rights reserved. Larry Wright, The Detroit News. I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

Cartoon: Intelligent Design Math

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:20:20 -0700

[Click on Cartoon for Full Size Image: Copyright 2005 John Cole All rights reserved. John Cole, Scranton Times-Tribune. I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

Cartoon: First Religion

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:19:53 -0700

[Click on Cartoon for Full Size Image: Copyright 2006 Cam Cardow All rights reserved. Cam Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen. I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

Do the Poor Deserve Life Support?

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:19:23 -0700

A woman with terminal cancer who couldn't pay for her medical bills is unplugged from her ventilator and dies in about 15 minutes. Is this wrong? Read the story: Do the poor deserve life support? By presenting this opinion piece,...

Death and Wal-Mart

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:18:54 -0700

Is there any similarity between the medical doctors who recently refused to participate in the execution of a convicted killer in California and pharmacists who refuse to dispense the morning after pill? Wal-Mart, whose administration traditionally has a strong conservative...

Legislating Sex in Kansa

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:18:15 -0700

Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline, recently created a ridiculous controversy in his lawsuit in the Kansas Supreme Court over the mandatory reporting of teenage sex in Kansas. It turns out that Kansas is one of 12 states where sex under...

Economics of Starbucks Coffee

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:17:40 -0700

How can you get a better cappuccino and pay less money? At least until recently, there's been a loop hole in the Starbucks coffee pricing system that lets you get a better drink for less money. Try it out for...

Economics of Popcorn

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:17:03 -0700

Here's some economics that you undoubtedly have experienced. We all know that movie theaters charge an arm and a leg for candy, popcorn, and drinks. So it might not surprise you to find out that movie theaters may make 90...

Economics of Male Beauty

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:16:36 -0700

"OKAY girls. 'Fess up. Do you prefer rugged, testosterone-fuelled good looks in a man, or more sensitive facial features? And why? A thousand women's magazines have blazed a trail in asking that question, but evolutionary biologists are now treading cautiously...

Economics of Fertility

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:16:02 -0700

Human fertility is a $3 billion-dollar-a-year business in the U.S. medical economy. Dr. Debora Spar, a political economist and Professor in the Harvard Business School has written a book, "The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce...

Economics of Religion

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:15:32 -0700

If frequent churchgoers have higher incomes than those who don't often attend, does it mean that religion made them richer? Of course not. It might simply mean that richer people are more likely to go to church. But that's not...

Economics of Donkeys

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:14:58 -0700

[Nice Ass! Why I own donkeys. -- That was the original title of the following story that appeared in, but I didn't want to give a heart attack to the nice people who run WSU Announcements if they saw...

The Cost of Moving Mountains

Sun, 08 Apr 2007 18:58:02 -0700

"There is galling irony in the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment, which was designed to protect the civil liberties of recently freed African slaves, was later interpreted in such a way as to give corporations like Massey all of the...

Cartoon: US Outsources Torture

Sun, 08 Apr 2007 16:13:12 -0700

[Copyright 2005 M. e. Cohen All rights reserved. I purchase the one-time use of these cartoons for the Freakonomics seminar, so please do not redistribute. Thanks.]

Seminar 8: War and Patriotism

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 17:41:33 -0700

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it... Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate....

Seminar 6: Walmart, Basketball, and the Sex Life of Porcupines

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 17:33:01 -0700

[Seminar based partly on the best-selling new book, Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, 2005, HarperCollins and on One World - the ethics of globalization, by Peter Singer, 2002, Yale University Press.] Everyone loves to hate giant...

Seminar 5: Blackonomics at Harvard

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 17:28:18 -0700

The book, Freakonomics, along with the recent hurricane disasters, has reopened a disturbing picture of poverty, crime, and drugs in America. You may wonder how Steven D. Levitt came to work on problems still gripping so many African-Americans in the...

Do Professors Cheat?

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 16:22:19 -0700

[NOTE: The following comments were submitted by Professor Wayne Joerding, School of Economic Sciences, to help discuss aspects of the Seminar: Do Teachers Cheat? Blame me, not him, for the above title.] One of the important lessons of economics is...

Cartoon: Better Gas Mileage

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 16:19:49 -0700

As a new feature, we will post a weekly cartoon. You may also look at the links for Editorials / Cartoons to see a larger selection of political cartoons at [Copyright 2005: John Trevor, All rights reserved, The Albuquerque...