Stephen Joseph Dubner (born August 26, 1963) is an American author, journalist, and podcast and radio host. He is co-author of the popular Freakonomics book series: Freakonomics,[3] SuperFreakonomics,[4] Think Like a Freak[5] and When to Rob a Bank.[6] He is the host of Freakonomics Radio.

Stephen Dubner
Stephen Dubner in 2012
Stephen Joseph Dubner

(1963-08-26) August 26, 1963 (age 60)
EducationAppalachian State University (BA)
Columbia University (MFA)
Known for
  • Abigail Seymour
  • Ellen Binder
    (m. 1998)
AwardsQuill Award (2005)

Early life and education


Born in 1963 in Duanesburg, New York, to Solomon Dubner (also known as Paul) and Florence Greenglass (also known as Florence Winters and Veronica Dubner), Dubner grew up as the youngest of eight children.[7] His father, who died in 1973 when Dubner was 10 years old, worked as a copy editor at The Record in Troy, New York.[2] Dubner grew up in a devout Roman Catholic household, his parents having converted from Judaism to Catholicism before his birth. As an adult, Dubner himself converted back to Judaism, an experience he chronicles in his first book, Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family.[8]

Dubner completed his high school education at Duanesburg Central High School in 1980, a year ahead of his graduating class.[9][10] In 1984, he graduated from Appalachian State University in North Carolina, where he studied in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.[11] There, Dubner played in a rock band, The Right Profile, which later signed with Arista Records shortly before he decided against a career in music. In 1990, Dubner earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University, where he also taught English.[12]



Dubner's first published work appeared in Highlights for Children, when he was 11 years old. Since then, 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.[12]

In 1998, Dubner wrote his first full-length book, Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family,[8] for which he was named a finalist for the Koret Jewish Book Award.[8][13] Dubner has since written Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper,[14] and a children's book, The Boy With Two Belly Buttons.[15]



Dubner met Steven Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, when his editor asked him to write a profile on Levitt for The New York Times Magazine. At the time, Dubner was writing a book on the psychology of money and didn't have much interest in meeting the young economist from Chicago. Likewise, Levitt had little interest in the profile, but agreed to a two-hour interview because his mom liked The New York Times Magazine.[16] Upon meeting Levitt, Dubner extended the two-hour interview to three days.

After publication of Dubner's 2003 Times Magazine article,[17] Dubner and Levitt were asked to co-write a book, which cemented their partnership. In 2005, William Morrow and Company published Freakonomics,[3] a book about cheating teachers, bizarre baby-names, self-dealing realtors, and crack-selling mama's boys.[12] Freakonomics would go on to be translated into 40 languages and sell 5 million copies worldwide.[12]

Dubner and Levitt have co-authored three other books: SuperFreakonomics,[4] Think Like a Freak,[5] and When to Rob a Bank.[6] Throughout their work, Dubner and Levitt use economics to explore real-world phenomena, answer perplexing questions, and offer unconventional analysis.

Dubner has a chapter giving advice in Tim Ferriss' book Tools of Titans.[18]



In 2010, Dubner launched a weekly podcast, Freakonomics Radio, which was getting 15 million global monthly downloads as of 2018.[12] On March 5, 2020, Dubner appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Dubner also hosts Freakonomics Radio Live! (formerly Tell Me Something I Don’t Know), a game-show version of the podcast in which contestants share incredible, little-known facts in front of a live audience.

Other shows include:

  • Tell Me Something I Don't Know is a game-show podcast that Dubner created in partnership with The New York Times in 2016 and that is now part of Freakonomics Radio
  • Footy for Two[19] is a podcast produced by Stephen Dubner and his son, Solomon Dubner, in which Solomon educates his father on the politics, personalities, and news of international football.
  • No Stupid Questions[20] is podcast that is part of Freakonomics Radio, where Dubner and Angela Duckworth ask each other questions about a range of subjects.

A film called Freakonomics: The Movie was released in 2010.[21]

Awards and honors


Personal life


As of June 2023, Dubner resides in New York City with his wife, documentary photographer Ellen Binder,[2] their two children, and their dog. In a 2017 New York Times profile, Dubner described his ideal Sunday as one in which he walks his dog in Central Park early in the morning, watches an FC Barcelona game with his son, and spends the afternoon cooking dinner with his daughter.[22]


  1. ^ Dubner, Stephen (2006). Choosing My Religion:A Memoir of a Family Beyond Belief. William Morrow. p. 176. ISBN 978-0061132995.
  2. ^ a b c "Weddings: Ellen Binder, Stephen Dubner". The New York Times. 1998-09-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  3. ^ a b Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005) ISBN 0-06-089637-X
  4. ^ a b SuperFreakonomics (2009) ISBN 0-060-88957-8
  5. ^ a b Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain (2014) ISBN 0-062-21833-6
  6. ^ a b When to Rob a Bank (2015) ISBN 0-062-38532-1
  7. ^ Dubner, Stephen (March 31, 1996). "Choosing My Religion". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 21, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Dubner, Stephen (1998). Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return To His Jewish Family. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0688151805.
  9. ^ Foss, Sara (2011-09-25). "Writer Stephen Dubner recalls Duanesburg childhood". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2023-04-03.
  10. ^ Moncure, Katherine. "Is Envy Healthy?". Freakonomics. Retrieved 2023-04-03.
  11. ^ "Alumni Awards 2012: Stephen J. Dubner '84". Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  12. ^ a b c d e "About". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  13. ^ Republished as Choosing My Religion: A Memoir of a Family Beyond Belief (2006) ISBN 0061132993
  14. ^ Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper (2003) ISBN 0-688-17365-9
  15. ^ The Boy With Two Belly Buttons (2007) ISBN 978-0061134029
  16. ^ Dean, Michelle (2015-05-15). "Freakonomics 10 years on: Stephen J Dubner and Steven D Levitt on what they got right and wrong". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  17. ^ Dubner, Stephen (2003). "The Probability That a Real-Estate Agent Is Cheating You (and Other Riddles of Modern Life)". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Tools of the Titans OCLC 1120516758
  19. ^ "Freakonomics".
  20. ^ "No Stupid Questions Archives".
  21. ^ Stephen J. Dubner at IMDb  
  22. ^ Gorce, Tammy La (2017-11-10). "How Stephen J. Dubner, of 'Freakonomics' and 'Tell Me Something I Don't Know,' Spends His Sundays". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-10.