About me



Twitter: @dhfreedman 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/dhfreedman




I’m a science journalist and author. I’m a contributing writer at The Atlantic, where I’ve had several cover stories, and semi-regular cover-story contributor to Newsweek. I’ve contributed off and on to a number of publications, including Scientific American, Politico, Quanta, Men’s Journal, and others. I’m the author of five books. I co-founded and for a while ran an online magazine about global healthcare.

I’ve long been primarily a science, technology and business writer, with a special focus on health-related issues. Here’s a sampling of some of the other publications I’ve written for: The New York Times, Discover, Science, The Columbia Journalism Review, Forbes, MIT Technology Review, Self, The Boston Globe, Wired, The Harvard Business Review, The Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Men’s Health, The Boston Globe Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and many more.

I live in the Boston area. My byline usually reads “David H. Freedman.” The “H.” is there to distinguish me from various well-known David Freedmans who are not me, including the animator/producer, the late Bible scholar, the North Carolina defense lawyer, the law/boxmaking writer, the neuroscientist, the Trump administration’s ambassador to Israel, the psychiatric epidemiologist, the Australian racehorse owner, the blacksmith, the cricketer, the late gag-writer, the accountant, and the radio-station manager (whom I met when he was mistakenly installed in my hotel room). There are even several people of note who go by “David H. Freedman,” including an international labor researcher who wrote a book on employment, a Michigan lawyer, and a U.S. Army officer. I am not any of them, either. And no matter what Google tells you, I am most definitely not David A. Freedman, the late great Berkeley statistician, whom I interviewed at his home shortly before he passed away, and whose photo, book credits, and level of deceasedness Google routinely interchanges with mine.

My last book was called WRONG: Why experts keep failing us–and how to know when not to trust them. It’s about all the forces that push experts, be they top scientists, high-powered consultants, pop gurus, financial whizzes or journalistic pundits (like me), into misleading us with flawed advice, and discusses ways to tell good expert advice from the dubious stuff.  I wrote about the subject for The Atlantic for the lead feature of the magazine’s annual “Brave Thinkers” issue, and substantial articles about the book ran in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and many other publications internationally.  I’ve spoken about the book on numerous radio and television programs in the U.S. and elsewhere.  It’s published by Little, Brown, and you can learn more about it here, and find it on Amazon here.

My previous book was A Perfect Mess, co-authored with Eric Abrahamson.  It’s about how disorganization and messiness can be good things. The New York Times wrote a feature article about me and the book, and CBS Sunday morning did a segment on me. You can learn more about the book here, and find it on Amazon here.

I’m the author of three other books–on the U.S. Marines, computer crime, and artificial intelligence–and you can learn more about my books, and browse some of my articles, elsewhere on the site. My work has also appeared in various collections of science writing, and in the Norton Reader.

24 thoughts on “About me

  1. […] ‘The End of Temptation.’ The article, The Perfected Self, is written by author and journalist David Freedman. In it he talks about B.F. Skinner’s theories of behavior modification to address the obesity […]

  2. Christina Quinonez says:

    I’m curious about your background in the sciences. Are you a scientist? What makes you passionate enough about science to want to write critically about it?


    • No, I’m not a scientist, just a journalist. I’ve always loved science, which makes it hard to even say why–I’m baffled why many people don’t love science. I wouldn’t really say that I write very critically about science, rather I’d say I’m interested in the aspects of science that make it difficult to progress rapidly, steadily or reliably. I think that sounds critical to non-scientists because they don’t understand that’s just the nature of science. Most scientists don’t find my work to be particularly critical of science, they themselves say these things all the time. I am, however, very critical of most science journalism, which tends to focus on those science stories that are least likely to hold up over the long term, and that in the case of health can mislead people into failing to do the things they need to do to live longer and healthier lives.

      • Gina Pera says:

        David wrote: “I am, however, very critical of most science journalism, which tends to focus on those science stories that are least likely to hold up over the long term, and that in the case of health can mislead people into failing to do the things they need to do to live longer and healthier lives.”

        Yes. Thank you.

  3. Michelle Her says:

    Hello Mr. H. Freedman, I am a college student from MCTC located in Minnesota. I’m doing a research paper on one of your article, “How Junk Food Can End Obesity.” I just wanted to ask, when’d you create your ” About ” post from MM/DD/YYYY. Who is it sponsor of the article, if there’s one?

    • Hi Michelle. Not sure I understand your first question, “When’d you create your ‘About’ post from MM/DD/YYYY?” Do you want to try to ask it in a clearer way? As for your second question about sponsorship, I think perhaps you’re asking me if some food company or industry group paid me to write it. If that’s what you’re asking, the answer is no, I’ve never received any money from any food company or food industry group, not for that article or anything else. Does that answer your question, or were you asking something else? — Dave

  4. lorentjd says:

    Hi, David.

    Your essay “The War on Stupid People” was provocative. It reminded me of “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray in the sense that your essay highlighted a key source of the growing privilege gap. That gap worries me. I think we are on a trajectory where a growing and substantial number of people will simply be unemployable. I think your idea of government subsidizies to discourage automaton is unlikely to be adopted. Perhaps a guaranteed basic income is the solution but, even there, there will likely be tremendous opposition to such a program (as happened recently in Switzerland where the voters rejected such a plan with over 75% of votes against the proposal). That all being said, those with high intelligence would be well served to be more humble about the unearned privilege we enjoy.

  5. Jennifer Cisney-Crowe says:

    I am using your article The Perfected Self to write an argumentative Essay on Behavior Modification and B.F. Skinner. Are there any sources you would recommend for this Essay? What would I say about you in a Annotated Bibliography for your accomplishments that are not included in this web page?

    • storyadmin says:

      Glad to hear my article might be helpful for your essay. B.F. Skinner himself wrote a number of books on the science of modifying behavior, and the one I’d recommend is “About Behaviorism.” You can also find some material that might be helpful at abainternational.org, though most of it is aimed at people in the field. Most of what’s written elsewhere about behavior modification is from people who misunderstand the field, and they often know almost nothing about it. A frequent claim, for example, is that the field was “discredited” decades ago by Noam Chomsky, an absurdly wrong notion; another is that behavior modification tries to make people “like” or “dislike” certain things or behaviors by associating them with pleasant or unpleasant sensations, also wrong. I think the information about me on the website is fine for your bibliography. Good luck!

  6. Jeremy Mumford says:

    Your Men’s Journal article on wildfires and the WUI was disturbingly prophetic. “It may be paradise, but it’s one spark removed from hell.”

  7. Tony Ritter says:

    Mr. Freedman:

    In your article about Duolingo, you interviewed three people. That was it.

    1)The creator of Duolingo
    2) a competitor of another language program
    3) a professor.


    After 70 hours (or about a month) on the program studying Italian you wrote about your results and critique.


    Maybe you should have interviewed some of the *users* of the software – both young and old – before you wrote your, what I would call, scathing, article for a more *well rounded appraisal* of a revolutionary language program called Duolingo.

    Kind regards.

  8. patricia bloom, RN. says:

    i have never seen so many dumb generalizations in one article !!

    • storyadmin says:

      I have never seen such a dumb observation in one comment!! Just kidding. Seriously, though, while I welcome even the shallowest of comments, it might help if you specified which article you’re commenting on. Or maybe you meant all my articles? Which would be quite the generalization.

  9. Gini Dodds says:

    I really enjoy all your articles in the Atlantic. The latest, The Worst Patients, got me thinking about patient responsibilities. It would be really interesting to know if any employers or governments require patients to adhere to standards (healthy BMI, exercise, no smoking, moderate alcohol intake, etc.) as a condition for receiving free or inexpensive coverage. I realize it would be an administrative nightmare to enforce, but still interesting to think about. Are you aware of anything like this?

    • storyadmin says:

      Thanks, Gini. Yes, it’s becoming more common for employers to find ways to get employees to take better care of themselves in order to lower healthcare costs. But they have to be careful how they present it–if a plan looks like it’s discriminating against those who for whatever reasons aren’t willing or able to improve their lifestyle habits, then it could run into all kinds of legal and regulatory trouble. So typically these programs offer modest incentives for better health habits, such as rewards for achieving a certain number of steps taken per day. Certainly plans offer significant discounts for being a non-smoker–for some reason, our society is all behind openly discriminating against smokers, but goes nuts if people who maintain any other type of habit associated with poor health are encouraged to make changes.

  10. Tracie Hollings says:

    Did you publish Death of an American?

  11. Hi David, I’m a student at Utah Valley University, and I’m doing a research paper on your article “how junk food can end obesity”. It caught my eye, being a moderately overweight college student who frequently eats out at fast food places.
    In your article, and in the video where you talk about it, you make a lot of bold and generalized statements about the Health and Wholesome food industry as a whole, but for part of the essay I am doing, I am supposed to look at and consider the credentials of the author.
    Looking through this page and on the article itself, I have learned that you are not a scientist, but a journalist interested in science- seeing your reply to Christina Quinonez above.
    Additionally, while looking around, I have not found any sources that you have cited towards your article, and a lot of what you say comes from personal experience.
    Do you have any sources to back up what you say in your article, or any background that should make us believe what you say more than- say, any other journalist covering a health topic? I really enjoyed reading your article, and am eager to work on my essay about it.

    Kind regards,
    Nikolas Ver Steeg

    • storyadmin says:

      Thanks, Nikolas. Yes, I have sources to back up everything I have to say in the article. Feel free to point out any particular claims I make that you think call for more sourcing than I already provide in the article, and perhaps I can give you a source or two for them. My background is that I’m a journalist with no financial or other interest in the food industry.

  12. Alan Dworsky says:

    The link to David’s book “WRONG” isn’t working. It leads to a diet website of some kind.

    • storyadmin says:

      Thanks! I need to go through and update that and many other links on this site. I think the book is easy to find via a Google search on “wrong” “david h. freedman”

  13. Jennifer Brasher says:

    Just wondering what your university quals are?
    Interested. T

    Doing some research and cannot seem to find in all the available links

    • storyadmin says:

      Started off with two years in Northwestern University’s journalism school, but ended up with a BA in physics from Oberlin College. No graduate studies.

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