Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Author: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

From the title, if you think that this book is about learning academic economics then you got it wrong. It’s just not about economics it’s more about how to apply statistical analysis to problems where you wouldn’t normally think of using it.

This types of analysis reveal the truth, challenge the conventional wisdom, and answers unusual sets of questions to almost everything. For example,

  1. Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?
  2. What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
  3. Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?
  4. How much do parents really matter?
  5. Where have all criminals gone?

I won’t spoil the fun by answering those questions. For that, you need to read the book. For me, the most interesting chapters were “How much do parents really matter?” and “Where have all criminals gone ?”

Steven D. Levitt is obsessed with data. But apart from great data analysis, he is also a very good storyteller. While reading each chapter It feels like a Sherlock home tv episode where we are trying to find clues and evidence from the scene. Here the scene is replaced by the data.

My learning after reading this book is that I see conventional wisdom more analytically. Because People will lie but data won’t. This also made me think about asking the right questions which reveal something meaningful.

This is a must-read book for a person of analytical thinking. When I started reading I was hooked and it got my attention. Not a single page felt boring to me. I just wanted to read one page after another.

Get it from amazon

Highlighted Quotes

  1. It is one thing to muse about experts abusing their position and another to prove it. The best way to do so would be to measure how an expert treats you versus how he performs the same service for himself.
  2. An incentive is simply a means of urging people to do more a good thing and less of a bad thing.
  3. Information is so powerful that the assumption of information, even if the information does not actually exist, can have a sobering effect.
  4. The first trick of asking questions is to determine if your question is a good one. Just because a question has never been asked does not make it good.
  5. These two factors-childhood-poverty and a single-parent household are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future.
  6. If morality represents an ideal world, then economics represents the actual world.
  7. People are much less harsh on weaknesses that are clear than weaknesses that are hidden as they should be.

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