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... read more
Freakonomics started as a New York Times Magazine article in 2003. Stephen J. Dubner, a journalist for The New York Times, was assigned to write a profile of economist Steven D. Levitt. Levitt and Dubner hit it off, and thousands of New York Times readers also felt a connection. Readers... read more
Freakonomics started as a New York Times Magazine article in 2003. Stephen J. Dubner, a journalist for The New York Times, was assigned to write a profile of economist Steven D. Levitt. Levitt and Dubner hit it off, and thousands of New York Times readers also felt a connection. Readers responded to the content of the article, which talked about the unique questions Levitt was finding answers to by applying economic analysis to problems.
Sound dull? That's because you have not read the articles or Freakonomics yet. I was skeptical that Freakonomics would hold my attention, but once I started reading it, I had trouble putting it down. The writing was fresh and the content engaging. I found myself interested in what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common and amazed at how much relevance the answer had to my life.
Levitt and Dubner maintain that "if morality is how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work." They also show that conventional wisdom is often a convenient way to think about a problem more than a correct way to think about it. Freakonomics asks some good questions, and it inspires readers to do the same. The appeal of Freakonomics lies not in the answers it gives, but in the revelation that answers exist and can be discovered if only we know the right questions to ask.
“Anything worth having is a thing worth cheating for.”W. C. Fields
“For every clever person who goes to the trouble of creating an incentive scheme, there is an army of people, clever and otherwise, who will inevitably spend even more time trying to beat it. Cheating may or may not be human nature, but it is certainly a prominent feature in just about every human endeavor.”
“And an exclamation point in a real estate ad is bad news for sure, a bid to paper over real shortcomings with false enthusiasm.”
“Since the science of economics is primarily a set of tools, as opposed to a subject matter, then no subject, however offbeat, need be beyond its reach.”
“Morality, it could be argued, represents the way people would like the world to work - whereas economics represents how it actually does work.”
“If you learn how to look at data in the right way, you can explain riddles that otherwise might have seemed impossible. Because there is nothing like the sheer power of numbers to scrub away layers of confusion and contradiction.”
An Explanatory Note
Introduction: The Hidden Side of Everything
1. What do School teachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
2. How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
3. Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?
4. Where Have All the Criminals Gone?
5. What Makes a Perfect Parent?
6. Perfect Parenting, Part II; or: Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
Epilogue: Two Paths to Harvard
Followed by Super Freakonomics.
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