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Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt

Freakonomics (original 2005; edition 2006)

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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
19,56637682 (3.83)258
A highly original and mindblowing book about the hidden connections of everyday things. Wanna ever know why we're going to poll? What cause a crime rate to fall? And of course why the drug dealers living with their mom.... :-) An awesome and easy read, ( )
  TheCrow2 | May 18, 2012 |
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Pretty mind blowingly cool stuff. It is fascinating to see how economists can use data to make the most interesting and off the wall conclusions. For instance, legalizing abortion in the 70's caused the crime rate to drop in the 90's. Also discussed in this book are what sumo wrestlers and teachers have in common (cheating), why crack dealers live with their moms, the effect that names have in a child's future, how the KKK operates and more. Not too sciencey or data heavy, this book is easily readable and will definitely help you win at Jeopardy some day. Fun and intriguing, I definitely want to read their other one! ( )
  ecataldi | Apr 30, 2016 |
An entertaining alternate view of thinking about economics today ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 26, 2016 |
It is on top read on the beach) could be more fun if written in different style, right now too boring and long. Though i learned that there is no need to drink 8 glasses of water))) ( )
  Billy.Jhon | Apr 25, 2016 |
The only part of this book that I actually enjoyed was the chapter on names, otherwise I found the book rather dull and most of the theories just common sense. Having said that, I do not usually read 'business' or 'economic' books - so am not familiar with the genre. My husband, on the other hand loves economics, and he raved about this book. ( )
  tashlyn88 | Feb 5, 2016 |
I recommend reading this along with "Freedomnomics" by John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D. -- they give somewhat opposing viewpoints on these topics. ( )
  SaraMSLIS | Jan 26, 2016 |
An actuarial treasure trove.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
Intresting but just okay. Innovative and thought provoking but too tedious at times. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
An actuarial treasure trove.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
The book is written by an economist and a journalist, so it's well-written and the stories are backed up by numbers. The economist doesn't really consider himself an economist and neither do I. He isn't a genius economist, he's more like a social psychologist. Most of the issues presented are those that social psychologists are looking at with the same statistical tools. There are a few new issues presented though and even for issues that I'd read about before from a social psychologist perspective were written well- enjoyable, accessible, and informative.

If you like this book and the types of issues it explores, I recommend checking out more social psychology articles and books. ( )
  kparr | Dec 31, 2015 |
Surprisingly interesting for someone who has the mathematical skills of a goldfish and only picked it up because of the cover. ( )
  CatherineJay | Dec 30, 2015 |
This book has been around for a while, but only just recently hit the top of one of my to be read piles. Which means a lot of it is not topical, but the basic ideas are still valid. Things that don't, at first, seem to be related can impact each other in surprising ways. Incentives need to be matched to the audience. People can be incentivized by strange things, not necessarily what conventional wisdom would suggest. I found the book interesting and informative. ( )
1 vote susanbeamon | Nov 6, 2015 |
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  jrthebutlertest | Sep 23, 2015 |
Interesting and enjoyable. My favorites were the cheating teachers and the two abortion law stories. I really didn't believe that teachers cheated, and it was exciting to see them caught in the act by analyzing data in such a clever way. Took some practical knowledge away from this as well; I'm going to use the internet to save some money! ( )
1 vote engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
If you think that statistics are cold and downright boring, Freakonomics will change that. Levitt and Dubner take us through the processes of economics and show how they can be applied to make the world understandable and our problems potentially solvable. They investigate and correlate sumo wrestlers to teachers, abortion to crime, and expose the inner workings of crack gangs and the Ku Klux Klan. Long held assumptions are shaken when the numbers don't add up.
Recommended by Geo, July 2005
1 vote dawsong | Jun 12, 2015 |
Having read this, I now understand why half the people on the subway are poring it over (the other half are reading the Steig Larsson books). The book is fascinating, eye-opening, layer-peeling, revelatory and everything I hoped my Economics classes in college would be, but wasn't. Had it been, heck, I might've been an Economist, who knows. Excellent read. ( )
1 vote MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
A good overview and explanation of lots of things we have all wondered about. ( )
1 vote Heather_Arrington | May 31, 2015 |
An economist and a journalist team up to tackle some rather odd ball questions:
- 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?
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner label their research into the hidden side of everything “Freakonomics”, a study of incentives and how people get what they want. Whether they’re looking at the Klu Klux Klan or lives of crack dealers, the writers always uncover a new way to look at the story.

Since I started listening to the Freakonomics podcast, I’ve seen the occasional criticism of the team from various economists who say their methodology is flawed or the work is more in line with sociology. This is probably true. I’m mostly listening to these guys because I want a little bit of entertainment and I want to learn something new. They usually provide enough facts that even if I don’t agree with their conclusions I know enough to go off and do my own research.

There are some really interesting stories in this book. I think the chapter I found the most intriguing was one in which they describe what a child’s name reveals about the parents. As we all know, names go in and out of vogue. Certain names become trendy with certain socioeconomic groups. I’ve heard that individuals with an “ethnic” name often have a harder time getting job interviews, a theory that Freakonomics supports. What I found fascinating is that names move down the economic ladder; a name popular with upper middle class families one year starts popping up as a top name for lower middle class children a few years later. That’s something I’ve never really considered before.

When the Freakonomics team gets something wrong, they try to own up to it. The version of this book that I listened to (since I’m used to the podcast I opted for an audiobook) is the ‘Revised and Expanded Edition’, which corrects some misinformation regarding a story about information control and the Klu Klux Klan. The first edition of the book had some statements that later proved to be exaggerations, so the authors went back and corrected the affected chapters. They also removed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that were taken from an article Dubner wrote about Levitt. It was very pretentious and pompous, and once the authors realized the negative effect the quotes had on readers, they were gone.

So is this “proper” economics? No. I imagine that my economics professors in college would have had fits about the methodology. But it sure is some darn good storytellin’. ( )
1 vote makaiju | May 6, 2015 |
It is impossible to finish this book without becoming annoying at parties. There's a real joy in deflating old tropes and assumptions and this does so. A good read and education. ( )
1 vote LauraCLM | May 6, 2015 |
或許是由於沒有經濟學背景,抑或因朱敬一時常引用,我在看完之後,並沒有什麼新奇的感受。作者其實不過是回​歸那些社會科學初興時學者們所關切的問題:我們如何用理性去分析這個世界,找出背後的規律。李維特並沒有提​出什麼驚人的理論,有的只是關注人性的運作以及良好的分析方法。前者是普遍的,後者則是經濟學的工具。​ ( )
1 vote windhongtw | Apr 3, 2015 |
Very interesting analysis of how some data tells us different answers than we expect to hear. We often see what we look for, this book asks us to look at things from a different perspective. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
Many of Levitt's claims are fantastical, and given the amount of evidence in stark contrast to at least one of Levitt's favorite "can you believe it" topics (abortion and crime) it's hard to believe any of what he says. As others have said, little of what he talks about has anything to do with economics, so from my perspectives he's an economist trying to use his knowledge to inform topics he knows little to nothing about. I'm neither an economist nor a sociologist, but even I am aware of some of the arguments that he very blatantly ignores (for instance, his prison arguments very clearly ignore the fact that crimes that would have been a slap on the wrist or played off as "kids will be kids" years ago now carry stiff prison sentences because the prison-system has been privatized and the government has contracts with these prisons ensuring at least a minimum population.
Levitt's worst sin though is his constant inserting of news clippings tauting his perfection and insight. ( )
  benuathanasia | Feb 5, 2015 |
This is a very fascinating book, which I highly recommend to everyone. Essentially, the authors use economic principles and ideas to analyze several very interesting questions, such as why drug dealers live with their mothers. Trust me when I say that you never knew just how large of a role economics plays in our everyday world. I came away from the book looking at everything in a whole new way, and with a whole new level of appreciation for economics as a field of study. The anecdotes are amusing, the questions explored are relevant and interesting in ways you have never realized, and the entirety is tied together nicely and written in a very approachable fashion. The one downside, if you can call it that, is that not a lot of the data and information used in the analyses was provided or explained, with the authors instead largely falling back on saying what they found, with the reader basically taking their word for it. While this makes the book far more approachable and interesting for an everyday reader, it means that the education in actual economics that is provided is severely limited in scope, and their conclusions cannot be investigated further (based on what is provided in the book alone) if someone wishes to do so. They basically manage to make economics readily approachable for the everyday reader, while also allowing for very little true additional understanding of the field of study itself. This is only a minor weakness overall, as most would not be reading it for those purposes, but it did jump out at me a bit. ( )
1 vote TiffanyAK | Jan 1, 2015 |
Uno dei pochi libri divertenti scritti da un economista. Purtroppo non vi sono altre traduzioni attuali delle opere di Stephen Leavitt e questo è un peccato. I sei capitoli che compongono il libro sono assai interessanti, dando intepretazioni basate sulla obiettività delle analisi regressive e non in base al buon senso comune - che prende sonore e poco metaforiche legnate ( )
1 vote bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Freakonomics is fast, consistently interesting read and best when it digs in and tackles a question at length, as with the issue of the relationship of legal abortion to crime rates or the section on the socioeconomic trends in baby names. The only real overarching theme of the book, however, is Levitt's own cleverness--every chapter is preceded by a fawning blurb about Levitt from the same New York Times magazine piece.
Rather than just further refining and cashing in on this Steven Levitt "brand" of the impish public affairs gadfly who throws grenades at small hills of conventional wisdom in easy-reading bestsellers, I'd like to see Levitt take on an important subject and make his case so thoroughly that citizens and policymakers can actually turn his insights into action. ( )
1 vote AThurman | Dec 7, 2014 |
I love this book. It is thought provoking and causes you to re-examine long-held positions or notions in light of actual sociological data analysis. Everyone should read this. ( )
1 vote fredheid | Oct 22, 2014 |
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