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

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Freakonomics (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
25,492457127 (3.83)293
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? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask--but Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life--from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing--and his conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. The authors 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 this book, they set out to explore the hidden side of everything. If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 182
    Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (_Zoe_)
  2. 141
    SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance 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
    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
  5. 40
    Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt (Percevan)
  6. 30
    More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics by Steven E. Landsburg (Sandydog1)
  7. 31
    Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt (vnovak)
  8. 21
    Quirkology: The Curious Science Of Everyday Lives by Richard Wiseman (edwbaker)
  9. 10
    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)
  10. 32
    Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre (Rynooo)
  11. 21
    Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (tcarter)
  12. 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.
  13. 11
    Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love by Marina Adshade (_Zoe_)
  14. 11
    Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Unexpected perspectives on a range of topics
  15. 11
    The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas by Robert H. Frank (ljessen)
  16. 22
    The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan (mercure)
    mercure: The freakonomics of democracy
  17. 22
    Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler (espertus)
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 12
    Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy by Carl Shapiro (infiniteletters)

(see all 22 recommendations)

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» See also 293 mentions

English (441)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Vietnamese (1)  All languages (455)
Showing 1-5 of 441 (next | show all)
Good point: This book turned out to be mostly about data mining.
Bad point: I was hoping to read a book about economy for dummies.
Good point: It was fun to read, with lots of silly factoids.
Bad point: the factoids were not all that interesting for people outside of the USA.
Good point: It gave me nice ideas for data mining projects.
Bad point: the cheese. It was everywhere.
Bad point: the ending of each chapter contained at least one paragraph singing praise of Mr. Levitt. Really. I don't care if he's child prodigy / genius / revolutionary. I'm interested in his work, not his person. It's not bloody Bertrand Russell. Let his brilliancy speak for itself.
( )
  jd7h | Feb 18, 2024 |
Very interesting look at the world around us and the numbers that we THINK affect our world and its trends. ( )
  dlinnen | Feb 3, 2024 |
The book was ok but their podcast is soooo much better. Having already listened to the podcast, I found the book to be a significant overlap of the same material. While it went into depth in a few more areas, I really didn't need that and preferred the presentation style used in the podcasts. ( )
  donwon | Jan 22, 2024 |
If I were to write the action movie trailer for this book it would go: In a world where pundits constantly confuse correlation with cause and effect, one man refuses to oversimplify. Take that conventional wisdom! Plus I just noticed that the apple on the cover is an orange inside. ( )
  jennifergeran | Dec 23, 2023 |
This book seems to be everywhere. Hard to look in a bookshop and not see it featured heavily...and the sequels....."Super Freakonomics" etc.. So, I felt obliged to read it to be informed. And, whilst I was reading it at my usual coffee shop it was commented upon by others...."Fascinating book!" etc. Well yes. It is interesting. I was interested to learn about the breakdown of the financial structure of drug distributors with the clever punch line that the foot soldiers have to live with their mothers because their income is so low. But I didn't see any thoughtful suggestions coming out of this such that ......if these poor guys had a reasonable shot at getting a decent job then the incentive to distribute drugs would vanish in a flash.......So here's some suggestions for doing this.
I also found it fascinating that the decrease in crime rates could largely be attributed to the Roe vs Wade case that legalised abortion in the USA and allowed women to reduce the number of unwanted babies (who tended to grow up and commit crimes). Do I buy this? Well, after finishing the book, I admit to lingering doubts that maybe they were underplaying the role of aging population, increased policing, etc. But, I've just re-read the section on abortion and I must confess that they have convinced me. They seem to have done all the right kind of checks: early abortion States saw a decrease in crime before the later adopters. ...and so on. So, seeing the US Supreme Court (stacked by Donald Trump) revoke Roe vs Wade seems to be a very sad day for the USA. I guess, this will be a decent test of the Freakonomic's assertion that crime will start to rise.
There are some interesting things there but the only one that really stood out for me was the link between crime and legalised abortion. Oh...there was the demise of the Ku Klux Klan because of exposure of their secret (and stupid) rites and passwords. Seems that nothing quite like shining the light on the secrecy to undermine it all. And interesting that the guy who was given most of the credit had a few secrets of his own....namely he was claiming credit for infiltrating the Klan when some other guy (John Brown) had actually done all the really risky stuff. But scary that the Klan should have become so powerful and a real force for evil deeds.
I enjoyed reading the book and it gets four stars from me. ( )
  booktsunami | Oct 26, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 441 (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 (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven D. Levittprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dubner, Stephen J.main 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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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? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask--but Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life--from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing--and his conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. The authors 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 this book, they set out to explore the hidden side of everything. If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.--From publisher description.

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I'm a maverick!
Or just a Drama Queen who's
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