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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the…

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005)

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Freakonomics (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
21,265399102 (3.84)279
  1. 182
    Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (_Zoe_)
  2. 141
    SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt (conceptDawg)
    conceptDawg: Similar content, same authors. If you liked one you'll like the other.
  3. 70
    The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car by Tim Harford (waitingtoderail)
    waitingtoderail: A much better book than Freakonomics, as wide-ranging but not as scattershot.
  4. 40
    Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt (Percevan)
  5. 30
    More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics by Steven E. Landsburg (Sandydog1)
  6. 30
    The Drunkard's Walk : How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (wendelin39)
    wendelin39: awesome.. economics psych and even some puzzles revealing something about your brain in one
  7. 31
    Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt (vnovak)
  8. 54
    Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (dste)
    dste: Another interesting book that looks at some ideas we think are right and turns them upside down.
  9. 32
    Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre (Rynooo)
  10. 21
    Quirkology: The Curious Science Of Everyday Lives by Richard Wiseman (edwbaker)
  11. 00
    You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney (Sandydog1)
  12. 11
    The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas by Robert H. Frank (ljessen)
  13. 11
    Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love by Marina Adshade (_Zoe_)
  14. 22
    The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan (mercure)
    mercure: The freakonomics of democracy
  15. 11
    Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (tcarter)
  16. 12
    Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler (espertus)
  17. 01
    Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Freakonomics for football fans
  18. 12
    Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won by Tobias J. Moskowitz (browner56)
    browner56: Economists use the tools of the "dismal science"--both traditional and behavioral--to explain the pressing issues of the day, such as drug crime, school quality, and the home field advantage in football games.
  19. 12
    Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy by Carl Shapiro (infiniteletters)
  20. 02
    Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben (pa5t0rd)

(see all 21 recommendations)


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» See also 279 mentions

English (387)  Spanish (4)  French (4)  Vietnamese (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (399)
Showing 1-5 of 387 (next | show all)
listened to the audiobook, mostly while cleaning and organizing. therefore, I wasn't paying SUPER close attention, but I still think it was an interesting book, the conclusions may be less than relevant as this book was published more than a decade ago and the data sets used are outdated, but still some sound conclusions and thought patterns.

for instance, this book highlighted the difference between causes and indicators of effects--a child with many books at home tends to score better in school then a child who reads often, because the books in the home are indicator of a high socioeconomic status, and reading more is not necessarily a cause of academic success.

interesting stuff ( )
  Monica_P | Nov 22, 2018 |
Seth movie
  andyudis | Nov 19, 2018 |
A very interesting take on real-life situations using principles of economic theory. Seems forced at some places but if looked at objectively it does make sense. For real it's economic steak on a hot plate, with a side of a motley collection of interesting stories. ( )
  Varun.Sayal | Nov 15, 2018 |
study by study details are interesting but does not hang together as a whole book. some of the conclusions seem questionable ( )
  margaretfield | May 29, 2018 |
Why do people act the way they do? It's a question that has been debated by societies for what we can only assume is basically the entirety of human existence. Astrology has been used to try to explain it, as has the balances of humors in the blood. In modern times, there's an entire scientific field that studies human behavior and what causes it. Psychology, though, tends to focus on the bigger, more 40,000 foot view of why people behave in particular ways. It doesn't answer, for example, why crack dealers often live with their mothers. In Freakonomics, economist Steven D. Levitt (with co-writer Stephen J. Dubner) attempt to answer that and various other questions about human quirks. Some of these are relatively light-hearted (tracking how baby names move down through social classes over time), and some have much more serious implications (tying Roe v. Wade/more widespread access to abortion with decreasing crime rates).

Levitt and Dubner put all their faith into a field usually called behavioral economics. It posits that humans are rational actors, and when they appear not to be, it's because the incentives that drive their choices aren't obvious. How much you go along with their theories depends on how much stock you put into behavioral economics, and for me, it's honestly a mixed bag. The most interesting portion of the book, in my eyes, was the chapter on abortion and crime. It's more of a purely statistical dive, and the underlying assumption that he uses, that women are good judges of when they shouldn't bring children into the world because they won't be able to devote sufficient resources (money, of course, but time and energy too) to their raising, is one that makes sense to me. The children that might otherwise have been brought into the kind of poor home environments that correlate with (but don't necessarily cause) criminality simply weren't born and therefore can't be in the world, committing crimes. It's a bold hypothesis, and unsurprisingly turned out to be one of the most controversial. Since I had the revised/expanded edition of the book, they actually included an appendix chapter doing a deep dive into their statistical analysis. I've got some very basic grounding in statistics, but it was beyond my ability to actually comprehend, so I just have to trust that they did their homework correctly.

There are some other interesting tidbits, including one about charter/magnet schools and their effect on student achievement, but I found myself often skeptical of their breezy assurance of their own correctness and faith in their data. After the massive statistical analysis failure of the 2016 election, it's more obvious than ever that data isn't always all-knowing...it needs careful parsing and tweaking to accurately reflect reality. ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 387 (next | show all)
Economists can seem a little arrogant at times. They have a set of techniques and habits of thought that they regard as more ''rigorous'' than those of other social scientists. When they are successful -- one thinks of Amartya Sen's important work on the causes of famines, or Gary Becker's theory of marriage and rational behavior -- the result gets called economics. It might appear presumptuous of Steven Levitt to see himself as an all-purpose intellectual detective, fit to take on whatever puzzle of human behavior grabs his fancy. But on the evidence of ''Freakonomics,'' the presumption is earned.
added by Shortride | editThe Economist (pay site) (May 12, 2005)
The book, unfortunately titled Freakonomics, is broken into six chapters, each posing a different social question. Levitt and Dubner answer them using empirical research and statistical analysis. And unlike academics who usually address these matters, they don't clutter the prose with a lot of caveats. They just show you the goods.
added by Shortride | editTime, Amanda Ripley (Apr 24, 2005)
Freakonomics is about unconventional wisdom, using the raw data of economics in imaginative ways to ask clever and diverting questions. Levitt even redefines his definition. If, as he says, economics is essentially about incentives and how people realise them, then economics is a prospecting tool, not a laboratory microscope.

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven D. Levittprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dubner, Stephen J.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Lindgren, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidenfaden, TøgerPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The most brilliant young economist in America—the one so deemed, at least, by a jury of his elders—brakes to a stop at a traffic light on Chicago's south side.
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I'm a maverick!
Or just a Drama Queen who's
Good at marketing?


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061234001, Hardcover)

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. In Freakonomics (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 in The New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written. In a book filled with bold logic, such back-patting veers Freakonomics, however briefly, away from what Levitt actually has to say. Although maybe there's a good economic reason for that too, and we're just not getting it yet. --John Moe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:00 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

"Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life--from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing--and his conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head... Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives--how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of, well--everything... If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work."--Book jacket, front flap.… (more)

» see all 14 descriptions

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