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.
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!
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 ...