Read Freakonomics Online by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Click Here to Download the Book 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 econo-mist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday lifeâ€”from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearingâ€”and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head. Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-anddeath issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.
Reviews Here is a book written by an accomplished storyteller who is describing various research projects of an unusually gifted Professor of Economics, Steven Levitt. Though the authors claim that the book has no unifying theme, in truth the book--start to finish--is about the power of good reasoning. Our Professor Levitt has an extraordinary ability to ask seemingly odd questions about normal phenomena that upon deep reflection reveal great truths about the world in which we live. Granted, the book often short-cuts its own analysis by asking one to consider its conclusions as proven without fully disclosing the analytical methods used, yet this can be forgiven as this work is clearly geared to as wide an audience as possible. In fact, one almost gets the impression that the author is baiting the reader into analytical thinking as if he wants you to disagree. Perhaps the book's most powerful observation is that our society is too quick to adopt the glib explanation. We believe our own press and are too distracted by media to sit down and figure out the truth. We are surrounded by the answers, yet very, very few take the time to look--even fewer take the time to think. Reading this book should be a prerequisite to graduation from high school--this would have changed my entire outlook on college. It describes how independent we truly are. The book ends with a thought-provoking example of the fact that our power to choose is far more influential in our lives than circumstance or parentage. What better message could a book send?
That economist Steven Levitt is innovative, there is no question. However, his impressiveness has more to do more with his results and little to do with his methods. To a researcher, as I have been for a greater part of my adult life, regression analysis, the method of study he employs for a majority of this book, is little more than pitting two variables against each others, controlling for other extraneous variables that may be influential but not of interest, letting some statistical software do the legwork for you in plotting the data, and carefully interpreting what you find. The real feat lies in the picking of the two variables. For this, Levitt, instead of theorizing the answer he wants to find, hones in on formulating the right question he wants to askâ€“which can
often be the hardest but most crucial part of any research project. Levitt’s second feat is trying to numerically represent many of his variables. How do you measure whether legalized abortions stemming from the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade impacted the rise and decline of the crime wave in the US in the 1990s or whether parents who read to their children or pick a smart-sounding name for their child actually make for more productive and intelligent children? The third feat is the fun part, interpreting what you find and explaining the economic incentives for why things are the way they are: what is the allure and possible payouts of dealing crack if any and why do real estate investors put their house on the market longer than their clients’? Upon finishing this book, I’ve realized I’ve come away with a knapsack of fascinating knowledge, some applicable, some practical, some useless, but all highly entertaining.
This book is pure brain candy. It's material for cocktail parties. And although I can't say I attend many cocktail parties myself, I enjoyed it quite a bit, found myself telling co-workers about it almost every day. Levitt is the brain here, Dubner the writer (not a comment on Dubner's intelligence). Levitt is a heralded economist at the University of Chicago, but an odd sort of economist. Or, at least, an economist who asks odd questions. The authors promise that the book has no unifying theme. And while it does jump seemingly randomly from question to question, there are some lessons to be learned. The most obvious reason why something happens is not always the real reason. In fact, sometimes the real reason doesn't even make the list of possibilities. Or, as is often true in the case studies given, the cause turns out not to be the cause at all, but the effect. What topics do the authors tackle? Not to give too much away, but the reason for the crime drop in the mid 1990s had more to do with Roe v. Wade than innovative police tactics. Sumo wrestling is rigged. And having an African-American may impact a person's success in life. Like I said, random topics, possibly not that useful to most of us, but they sure make for interesting reading.
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Published on Aug 31, 2013