Bring on the Pain!

Bring on the Pain! It’s not about how much something hurts — it’s how you remember the pain. This week, lessons on pain from the New York City subway, the professional hockey rink, and a landmark study of colonoscopy patients. So have a listen. We promise, it won’t hurt a bit.

Most people do what they can to avoid pain. That said, it’s an inevitable part of life. So how do you deal with it?

That’s the question we explore in our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast (you can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, read the transcript, listen live via the link in box at right or read?the transcript here). We look into a few different kinds of pain, inflicted in different circumstances, to see what we can learn. The biggest takeaway: it’s not necessarily how much something hurts; it’s how you remember the pain.

We start off underground, in the New York City subway, where noise pollution abounds and where one particular noise is downright painful. You’ll hear it in the podcast, and we talk about it with Pete Foley, a longtime “revenue equipment maintainer” with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. He admits that the entry/exit setup in the subway is way sub-optimal, producing lots of needless noise from bleating alarms: