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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side Of Everything, Revised and Expanded Edition » User review

Learning should be this enjoyable more often!

  • Mar 1, 2011
Rating:
+4
Freakonomics is a refreshing, thoroughly enjoyable, easy reading, fast paced, witty and cynical breath of fresh air! Levitt and Dubner offer up a series of pointed, thought provoking essays composed in jargon-free layman's language that are loosely connected through a theme revealed in the book's sub-title - the hidden side of everything!

Incentives, or disincentives and deterrents, are examined as to their effectiveness in achieving the outcomes anticipated by those people, corporations or government organizations who designed them. We quickly learn that when incentives are applied in the context of our own philosophies and objectives, the outcomes may not be precisely as might have been originally intended.

The power of information, disinformation, information symmetry or asymmetry, perceived or real, and information hoarding in the form of secrecy is looked at from the point of view of determining its effect on our reliance on and opinions of "experts" and on our own strength in the process of negotiation or development of a contract. The authors' use of the KKK, real estate agents and the Internet as enormously disparate examples of information hoarders or disseminators is, in a word, inspired and informative.

The rather contentious issues of abortion vis-à-vis US crime rates and the relationship between race, economic status, parenting and scholastic achievement are used to demonstrate the enormous pitfalls in distinguishing between causality relationships as opposed to simple correlation.

I believe my personal background in mathematics and physics has allowed me to appreciate the deeper meaning of these essays from a scientific point of view. But, I'm concerned that in doing this, I may give rise to the profoundly mistaken impression that "Freakonomics" is some turgid economics exposition that's as dry as a Death Valley dust storm. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Read it! Enjoy it! Laugh at it and think about what you've just read. If you never again look at a social phenomenon and accept it at simple face value without a raised eyebrow and a little more questioning attitude, then I believe that Levitt and Dubner will have achieved their goal.

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March 20, 2011
I really need to check out this book one of these days. I've heard a lot of good things about it. Nice review, Paul!
March 20, 2011
I'm sure you'd enjoy it, Adrianna. Thanks for the visit and the compliment.
March 21, 2011
I'm sure I would too. I just saw at Costco that there is a film based on the book too. Didn't know that!
 
March 07, 2011
This book was gifted to me a bit back, but I haven't had a chance to crack it open yet. Sounds like I'm definitely going to have to though.  By the way, if you haven't seen Steven Levitt's TED Talk yet, you should! (it's the first video on this list)  The man is full of fascinating analyses.  Thanks for sharing, Paul!
 
March 01, 2011
Yes this book is sooooo interesting, I loved the parts where they show that it's a big difference between what people Say they┬┤re going to do and what they then Actually do.
 
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More Freakonomics: A Rogue Economis... reviews
Quick Tip by . September 16, 2010
mildly interesting but over-rated. Brain candy, as they say, but a bit of fun.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
You don't have to agree with everything written in this book but this author certainly provides interesting commentary.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
very unique way of looking at some ordinary situations
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Important to grasp at least the general concepts; I feel many topics go too far afield. I could prove that bad cheese "causes" hurricanes in New Zealand, but it ain't necessarily so!
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Fun and unique, kind of intellectual too
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
This book gave me alot of insight about things that I never would have thought about. The story about Drug Dealers living with their mothers makes you really think about how things are so superficial on the outside, but if you look closer and examine them you will be very surprised!
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
I thought this book was way over rated!
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
One of my favorites...and the sequel is just as good! Makes you rethink how things are related and if they really are what they seem, from a mathematical, number-crunching perspective.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Great book - totally changes how you think
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
Good read, and worth picking up again and again.
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Paul Weiss ()
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   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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Wiki

Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences. The annual Nobel Prize winner in that field never receives as much publicity as his or her compatriots in peace, literature, or physics. But if such slights are based on the notion that economics is dull, or that economists are concerned only with finance itself, Steven D. Levitt will change some minds. InFreakonomics(written with Stephen J. Dubner), Levitt argues that many apparent mysteries of everyday life don't need to be so mysterious: they could be illuminated and made even more fascinating by asking the right questions and drawing connections. For example, Levitt traces the drop in violent crime rates to a drop in violent criminals and, digging further, to the Roe v. Wade decision that preempted the existence of some people who would be born to poverty and hardship. Elsewhere, by analyzing data gathered from inner-city Chicago drug-dealing gangs, Levitt outlines a corporate structure much like McDonald's, where the top bosses make great money while scores of underlings make something below minimum wage. And in a section that may alarm or relieve worried parents, Levitt argues that parenting methods don't really matter much and that a backyard swimming pool is much more dangerous than a gun. These enlightening chapters are separated by effusive passages from Dubner's 2003 profile of Levitt inThe New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written. In a book filled with bold ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0061234001
ISBN-13: 978-0061234002
Author: Steven D. Levitt
Genre: Business & Investing, Entertainment, Science
Publisher: William Morrow
Polls with this book
1984 (British first edition)

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