Freakonomics Radio

There’s a War on Sugar. Is It Justified?
Apr 26, 8:00 PM
Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it’s addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make?
Stephen J. Dubner and WNYC Studios

Eric’s Thoughts:

One of reasons I stopped listening to Freakonomics is because I found Stephen Dubner’s contrarian tendencies were surfacing in unfortunate ways, especially when it came to food and beverage focused episodes. Like the entire episode they did just to argue that being too overweight might not be bad for your health after all. The evidence to support that argument: They didn’t really have any. The epsisode was mostly an exercise seeing how far they can take the concept of “correlation is not causation” (I.e. just because obese people get more health problems, being obese itself might not be the cause of the problems). To make the episode, they had to downplay a tremendous amount of scientific consensus to strengthen their rhetorical argument.

Or the couple times they felt the need to argue that drunk driving may be safer than drunk walking. Their only supporting evidence: the large number of people who injure themselves while walking when overly-intoxicated. This came up in a couple different episodes, and neither time did they mention harm to others. Nor did they mention that mild intoxication can have a more dramatic effect on driving than it can on walking. It was a weak, stupid attempt at “contrarian fun” that they felt the need to do more than once for some strange reason. (And is large part of why I took a LONG break from the podcast.)

So would this sugar-centric episode be unduly influenced by Dubner’s need to be iconoclastic? Actually, I found it played fairly straight. They finally got a tricky food issue right IMO.

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