A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Book - 2005
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Mar 29, 2020

This book isn't really about Economics. Instead, it's about how applying statistical analysis tools to various social science problems can reveal interesting patterns. I think there is some truth to the conclusions, but not always absolute truth. Apart from that, the writing is well done. It's a fun read, and you'll learn something.

Mar 23, 2020

Freakonomics is a fantastic read for someone looking for a casual and fun yet somewhat educational work of non-fiction. The way of thinking described in this book is something that most everyone should try, because inefficiency and unthinking convictions are two of the greatest enemies to modern society. Whether its sumo wrestlers or schoolteachers, crack or parenting, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner make just about everything more interesting and digestible. The book includes six chapters, each with an overarching theme. This format allows the authors to run wild with their anecdotal storytelling, yet their ideas always come together for a satisfying conclusion at the end of the chapter. I particularly enjoyed chapters 1 and 6, but the quality is great across the board. All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Freakonomics and would highly recommend it to just about anyone.

Feb 04, 2019

Easy to read, if a little voluminous, popular rather than rigorous. The author's comparison of risk traveling by aircraft vs car per hour is indefensible, otherwise okay.

SPPL_János Mar 19, 2018

Levitt and other economists apply the tools of their field to illuminate a variety of astonishing truths. According to their number-crunching, it's safer to have a gun in your household than a swimming pool, legal abortions lower the crime rate, and late fees encourage lateness. You'll also learn how drug dealers make money and what names are ethnically whitest and blackest. A fast, easy read full of surprises.

Aug 03, 2017

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything is a book written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in 2006, and published in 2009. It has received a lot of praise when it was first released. Some of the awards include: Book Sense Nonfiction Book of the Year, Quill Award for Business Book of the Year, Best Book of the Year by Economist, etc. And to be honest, the book deserved it. Most of the time that I was reading it, my head was exploding with eye-opening ideas and realization. The authors' conclusions hit me like: "Oh. I never thought about why this or that could be true. But now that I do, it makes perfect sense." So what are those eye-opening ideas?
Each chapter describes a new topic, as an example: “Why do we cheat? Mankind is more honest than we think it is, why there are far less criminals now then there were in the 1980s, what impact the names have on our lives, and etc.”. Some of the questions are pretty controversial and daring. For example, chapter 2 talks about how the KKK is similar to a group of real-estate agents. (the answer is much simpler than you think it is!)
The most surprising finding for me in the book is Chapter 4 where the book describes all the events that led up to crime rates dropping dramatically in the US in the 1990s. While most of us, even to this day, would think that it was the police and economics that prevented the majority of crimes from happening and lowered the rates of crimes, these factors actually didn’t play such a huge part in crime rates dropping. Now, what did play the part was abortions. If the criminals aren’t born, then there is no one there to commit the crime, right? Before the 1970s, it was illegal to abort fetuses. And because of that, these kids grew up neglected and (often times) poor. That is why they would turn to crime.
Freakonomics is a pretty awesome book. Even if you aren’t into economics, Freakonomics is still a good book to consider reading because it explains these super-interesting ideas simply and in a way that anyone can understand it.
Rating: 5/5
@readermariacom of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything was a book that was both interesting as well as humourous. If you’re looking for a fascinating read that uses statistical analysis to connect what are seemingly unrelated topics, then this is the book to read. They answer unusual questions such as “Why do drug dealers still live with their mothers” and “What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?”. It is a quick read that makes users think outside of the box and use data to answer these questions. However, the book mainly deals with sociology. Some of the data used is not very reliable and despite the authors preaching about reliable and thorough statistical analysis, they still use the data. The book presents the statistics as accurate and that the conclusions are reliable, but in reality it is not. If you are looking for a pop science and fun read, then this is a great read. However, do not be misled by the content of the book as it seems to be presented as fact when in reality a lot of the analysis and conclusions can be questioned. I would rate it 3/5 stars.
@SuperSilk of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

CarleeMcDot Jul 24, 2017

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I actually graduated with a degree in Economics. I enjoyed this book so much the first time I read it that I actually got a signed copy. (I took a class in school on the economics of crime and it was very similar to the thinking in this book and it was one of my favorite econ classes ever.) Although I may be a nerd, this is a book that I think many folks would enjoy. It isn't about the stock market or supply and demand, but is about real life situations (drug dealers, cheating in school, parents influence, etc) that are looked at from a different perspective. I hear there is a great podcast by Dubner (with Levitt as a regular guest), but have yet to check it out. As far as this book, I would give it a 9 out of 10.

Sep 17, 2016

Freakonomics. --- by. --- Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner.
First off, I'm not sure that Levitt & Dubner's credentials as economists, rogue or otherwise, has anything of substance to do with the contents of this book.
Having said that, however, L&D have written a book that is both amusing and insightful at the same time.
Why do drug pushers still live at home with mother? L&D have the answer --- and one that sounds pretty logical too.
And how do you get students' marks at school to improve? Get their teachers to cheat.
The two guys are great statisticians. Give them the numbers and they can ferret out the truth while keeping you entertained at the same time.
And to think, they call themselves economists.

cloux1107 Sep 08, 2016

I don't know why but when I opened it to read on overdrive, I got "Fragile Things" by Neil Gaiman. Is there an issue with this ebook?

Jun 18, 2016

eye opener

Apr 25, 2016

Considering that it was narrated by one of the co-authors, it was narrated rather well (with some mispronunciations, for example, saying "dour" such that it sounds like "doer", rather than rhyming with "hour", as it should). Its clever, flows well, but it doesn't really describe or explain very much the economic principles used.

Oct 28, 2015

I couldn’t help compare this to Malcolm Gladwell books. While I thought it was okay, I didn’t enjoy it as much as MG books. Partially I think the blurbs talking about how awesome this economist is turned me off. Partially I think it was the lack of a central question/thesis like MG books usually have. Also, some of the correlations and stuff had me pretty skeptical - there are just SO MANY variables to a lot of the questions this book examines and I’m dubious that it is possible to control for everything.

Mar 28, 2015

This book is not a bad book. It is reasonably entertaining as pop psychology, but pointless. This book is a sideshow and a stand up comedy routine. It is a pop tart, sweet but unsatisfying. It is a distraction, nothing more. Read it on the beach.

Dec 06, 2014

I liked the book - really entertaining. I was often laughed. You have to have some intellect, some knowledge of statistics and definitely scene of humor in order to enjoy it. The book definitely makes you to think out of box. If you are too serious about Freakonomics you should probably read “Economics For Dummies”.

Jun 20, 2013

I had heard about the celebrated Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner for years without ever being curious enough to open the book. The whole idea of "the hidden side of everything" seemed to insinuate something steeped more in pop psychology than science so naturally I ignored it. As it turns out, as life sometimes does, what I got wasn't what I expected. This book surprised me over and over again.

I don't think Freakonomics could exist until Big Data had arrived and matured. Uncovering the hidden side of anything depends so much on comparing data sets numbered in the millions to trillions—basically more than the world has ever had the capacity to organize until now. Though statistical data alone does not make a decent book, this one becomes great because the authors connect the dots between events you never thought were related.

My favorite big-picture takeaway is how we desperately want reality to behave a certain way, to believe as truth the things we see through the lens of our own limited experience, and all too often that just isn't the case.

May 01, 2013

There are lies, damn lies and statistics. This book uses false statistics to prove false analogies. If you ever took basic university math, that is the first thing you are warned NOT to do. Sad that such books are published with so much uncritical publicity

Apr 28, 2013

I've never taken any formal economics classes, and this book was just plain odd. There was nothing about money or the economy, just instances in which the authors used statistics to attempt to prove truly random things. That being said, it was interesting, and I will probably read the sequel.

Apr 28, 2013

I believe I have returned this.

Feb 08, 2013

It is both interesting and pertinent that many commenters compared this to Malcolm Gladwell, an author who used many long-invalidated studies (Eysenck's many studies, that tobacco study by the tobacco companies, etc.) in his book (I believe it was the "Tipping Point"). Also, these are U.Chi guys, right? Econ is a magical mystery tour with those misinformation specialists there. No, one really won't learn anything from this book on real economics, only what the U.Chi guys want you to know, just as with Gladwell's book being based upon studies which had been invalidated long ago - - baloney is still baloney, regardless of the spread.

bluedog8422 Sep 27, 2012

High praise for all efforts made by Stetson Kennedy

Jul 27, 2012

Easy read, interesting stories. Very similar to Malcolm Gladwell in the way that the writing is super accessible and anecdotal. I like it, but it didn't blow my mind.

MadReads Mar 05, 2012

I've never thought about economics as anything but having to do with finances but Levitt uses economics to analyze much more than that, making for a highly interesting read.

jlazcan Nov 11, 2011

This is a fantastic book that uses Economic theories and tools to identify and measure social issues. It makes some really controversial statements based on the findings of the authors who interpret their findings in an ingenious way. In our society there are many theories that have become fact. The authors turn those perceived truths on their head. If you enjoy Malcolm Gladwell books then you will probably enjoy this book too.

Jul 11, 2011

Whether a fiction reader, or non fiction reader this book is fantastic. Just small article like chapters about a great variety of subjects. Wittily written, and very enjoyable. You are sure to enjoy, and learn!!

jdneochi Apr 26, 2011

This book is not kidding when it states that it "explores the hidden side of everything." Economics is everywhere and affects us all everyday, but we rarely see it. We rarely view our decisions as economic decisions unless they directly involve money, but this book will help you understand the economics of everyday things that you come across or do. Really good book, that is recommended by economists everywhere ( I first read it when it was assigned by my economics professor ). It is written in layman's terms and one does not need to have any previous understanding of economics to read it.

Apr 01, 2011

Interesting book that gets you thinking, but a bit dry and repetitive at times.

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