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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.    University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt is a very unconventional economist.  He considers himself weak at math--the traditional tool of academic economists--while he excels at using economic reasoning as a tool to address issues that might seem non-economic to many of us.  He calls his unusual approach, "Freakonomics," and, with journalist Stephen Dubner, he's compiled this book of some of his most interesting observations.

Freakonomics revolves around several basic themes:

  • Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life.  If you can figure what someone is rewarded for doing, having or acquiring, then you'll have an explanation for what they do, have or try to acquire.

  • The conventional wisdom is often wrong.  We assume so many traditional answers are right, that we never think to revisit the questions.

  • Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle, causes.

  • "Experts" use their informational advantage to serve themselves.  Increasingly universal access to information--often via the internet--has revealed the extent to which some professionals profited from the data they once monopolized.

  • Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world less so.

This fascinating book contains Dr. Levitt's analysis of such questions as:  Which is more dangerous--a gun or a swimming pool?  What do teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?  How much do parents really matter?  And, why do so many drug dealers live with their moms?

Not surprisingly, the answers to these and other freakonomic questions are unexpected--since few of us thought to ask the questions at all!  But the questions and answers are fascinating and thought-provoking.  You'll find yourself asking new questions and hoping that more people will explore the far-from-dismal side of "the dismal science" of economics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 006073132X
Format: Hardcover, 242pp
Pub. Date: April 2005
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

 

 

 

 

"Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America ... Prepare to be dazzled."

Malcolm Gladwell