In ‘If Books Could Kill,’ Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri analyze how ‘airport books’ negatively influenced society and culture

Society & Culture November 5, 2022
Listen to ‘If Books Could Kill’

Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri present “If Books Could Kill,” a new podcast unpacking “airport bestsellers that captured our hearts and ruined our minds.” Episodes are digging into ubiquitous books that contributed to “American stupidity,” fake history, pseudoscience, or junk narratives that were absorbed through mass readership.

Michael is a journalist who previously co-hosted “You’re Wrong About” with Sarah Marshall, covering people or events that have been misinterpreted and misremembered by the public. He currently co-hosts “Maintenance Phase” with Aubrey Gordon, dispelling wellness myths, fads, and other misleading health information.

Peter, a lawyer, hosts “5-4” a series about “how much the Supreme Court sucks.” The co-hosts are mutually interested in how “dumb” ideas and misinformation spread in society, and realized their preferred podcast format would closely examine airport books. First on their docket: Freakonomics.

On the first episode, we’ll learn more about the podcast’s purpose to dive into “dumb books that captured our collective imagination.” The co-hosts shared that upcoming episodes focus on “books that did to our brains what Jigsaw did to Robin Hood.” They’ve already recorded several episodes but chose to release their exploration of Freakonomics first since they consider it the “quintessential airport book.”

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything was co-written by New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner and University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt. The book was published in 2005 and catered to a wide audience seeking what they believed was alternative information. The authors pioneered in podcasting before it became a popular medium.

The series, “Freakonomics Radio” releases current episodes and has branched out into more shows with “No Stupid Questions,” “Freakonomics M.D.,” “The Freakonomics Radio Book Club,” and more.

Peter and Michael shared their takes and poked fun at Freakonomics in this 73-minute episode with contributing research help from Ted Joyce and Ames Grawert.

Tune in biweekly for new episodes wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Listen to ‘If Books Could Kill’

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