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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Freakonomics #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  448,477 ratings  ·  11,757 reviews
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? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a ...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published April 25th 2005 by William Morrow & Company (first published November 15th 2001)
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Ethan Fratzke I would say it's the other way around. People who do understand economics are thrown off by the unique way Levitt applies statistics. It seems that a…moreI would say it's the other way around. People who do understand economics are thrown off by the unique way Levitt applies statistics. It seems that a lot of these same people also believe most of his sources to be made up, often because his connections are a "stretch."Just blatant cynicism as far as I'm concerned. I feel this is a 4-star book because I didn't find it to be profound by any stretch, but that's just me.(less)
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This was an interesting book. I say it was interesting because I started liking it (a lot) when I first read it, as time passed I liked it less and less. In that way I call it a candy book, tastes good at first but leaves you worse off for reading it.

In my opinion, there are two problems with the book: First, Stephen Dubner comes across as a sycophant. Way to much of the book is spent praising Levitt. Secondly, I was disappointed in the lack of detail provided about Livitt's hypothesis. I wante
Sure, this book was a compelling read that offered us all some great amo for cocktail party conversation. But ultimately I think most of what Leavitt claims is crap.

He dodges accoutability with the disclaimer about his book NOT being a scholarly work, but then goes on to drop statistics, theories and expert opinions. These assertions laid, he doesn't provide readers with enough information to critically examine his perspectives.

Ultimately I have a problem with the unquestioned, unaccoutable rol
I loved this book, though I think the title is a bit misleading. It's not really about economics. In fact, he's showing you what interesting things you can discover when you apply statistical analysis to problems where you wouldn't normally think of using it. I use statistical methods a fair amount in my own work, so I found it particularly interesting. The most startling and thought-provoking example is definitely the unexpected reduction in US urban crime that occurred towards the end of the 2 ...more
Jul 17, 2007 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People Who Appreciate the Value of Social Science
I guess some people don't like this book because it's not centered around one theme. Instead, it's more about the seemingly diffuse academic work of one of the authors Steven D. Levitt (the other author is a journalist, Stephen J. Dubner). Levitt is something of an economist but more like a social scientist using the tools of Microeconomics applied to other fields that happen to catch his interest (often having something to do with cheating, corruption, crime, etc.). In the back of the book he m ...more
Jul 18, 2007 Bobscopatz added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who know data
Yes, zero stars.

There is one segment of this book that reports use of a dataset I know very well -- the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data. From what details they put into the book, it's fairly clear that the researchers did not research the reliability of the data elements they chose to use from FARS. In particular, their analysis rests on the ability to identify uninjured children in vehicles that were involved in fatal crashes. FARS has data elements for this, but the reliability
The Basics:

Freakonomics isn’t really about any one thing, which makes it a bit hard to summarize. In essence, it’s economist Steven Levitt playing around with economic principles and basic statistical analysis to examine various cultural trends and phenomena. He tackles a variety of questions, from whether or not sumo wrestlers cheat (they do) to whether or not a child’s name determines his success (it doesn’t). He does this all through examining statistics and data, trying to find facts to back
I am indebted to airport bookstores. And I am thus indebted to such an extent, that I can confess to arriving early for any flight departing from an airport with a bookstore for the sole purpose of securing a few additional minutes to browse books. If it were not for the practicalities of travelling, I would probably have bought this book much sooner than I did for I had been securing extra minutes in airport bookstores just to read through another chapter long before I actually bought it.

You se
Levitt makes the lofty claim that economics is not swayed by moral sensibilities - it's a pure numbers game of course! However, not knowing much about him beyond his affiliation with the University of Chicago and what was written in the book, I can surmise that he is conservative, or at least what today would be inappropriately labeled "moderate." Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily...or at least I don't view it that way. Does it affect his conclusions? Absolutely. Levitt assumes his assertion ...more
Riku Sayuj

As the old joke goes, the questions in economics exams are the same every year; only the answers change.

(re-reading in prep for the super-freaks)
Joe S
Dec 28, 2007 Joe S rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy Resistance while also enjoying their privileged position that allows them to Resist
Shelves: nonfiction
The most interesting part of this book was the introduction. Sad, but true.

Four stars for presentation. The prose is nearly invisible, which I suppose in this genre is preferable to the alternative. And the content is mildly interesting, in a "Huh. Wouldja look at that" sort of way, as though you saw a duck waddling through your back yard with jam on its head.

But insofar as it's meant to be the vehicle for a larger framework for viewing the world, this book is old news. You mean shit's connected
I found this book to be really fascinating. Chapter 3- Why do drug dealers still live with their moms, was very illuminating. I like the questions they posed and the connections they came up with. I was quite surprised about the American school system, especially the fact that teachers often used cheating methods to make sure their students scored well in standardized tests.The section about how given names may influence one's future was quite gloomy in some ways, especially as there's evidence ...more
Freakonomics explores the hidden side of everything.

If morality describes the ideal world, then economics describes the actual world. Further, Freakonomics studies incentives and how different people in different professions respond.

Some of the case studies include bagel salesmen, sumo wrestlers, public school teachers, crack cocaine dealers and parents. This is a smart, fun book; but it's not for everyone. Through a high nerd prospective, the authors deliver a slide rule and pocket protector
There are at least two ways you can read Freakanomics – as a fun and interesting little book that uses data to tell us little things about ourselves and the world. Or, you can see it as econometrics gone apeshit and finally taking over the world. I kind of view it as both.

That said, I really enjoyed reading this. I think Levitt has developed some useful tools that can tell us some interesting stuff about the way little corners of our world are organized. I also think it is a little bit batty to
Jan 31, 2008 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: po-mo armchair economists
Shelves: economics, 2008, own
An engaging read but not necessarily the scintillating, mind-blowing experience it had been hyped as.

Levitt and Dubner present their arguments well and their style makes the at-times daunting subject matter easier to approach and thus easier to digest. I don't read much non-fiction (for example) and even less stuff about economics but I found this book quick to get through and I was able to take away their message without having to labor through it.

That said, a few points:

(1) They make some outr
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Superficial, lleno de anécdotas y explicaciones enrevesadas sin ninguna base más allá de la correlación. Este es el nivel de la economía.

Hay un punto que resulta especialmente ofensivo: Levitt repite una y otra vez "ya sé correlación no es causa" y añade sistemáticamente "pero...", y da una explicación causal de libro. El análisis de regresión es llamado "una sofisticada herramienta de los economistas", que "permite controlar variables". Esto es la peor interpretación posible de la regresión, qu
This book is not the super-awesome, totally-in-your-facer that, like, "society" or whatever would like you to believe it is.

If pressed, I'd assign this book to a category I'd call "Books That People Who Love Malcolm Gladwell Might Also Enjoy." There's no doubt that Steven D. Levitt is an expert number-cruncher, organizer, and researcher. The conclusions with which he attempts to wow the reader, however, are specious, hyperbolic, and generally lame-o-zoid.*

Here's an example: The author explains
I assumed Freakonomics would be a book that used statistics to debunk various societal hysterias and fearmongering in a semi-humorous way. I quickly realized what I was in for when early in the book when the authors gave their background as Harvard Jews and profiled a guy that infiltrated the KKK for the ADL. The story sounds at least partially made up.

It then jumped into predictable white guilt inducing trash and goes into mental contortions using "data" and sociological explanations for black
May 08, 2008 Lesandre rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Exceeds the hype! Easy breezy to read, a wealth of information that I would never have stopped to contemplate. I had just read the chapter on the KKK and the real estate agent when my car was totaled; it helped me choose a posture with the insurance adjusters that wouldn't result in a total ass-raping. The last chapter about names was simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. It is dismaying to confess, now, that I am more judgmental of people's names knowing the societal/economic trends behind t ...more
For a book that so heavily relies on (mostly) untested assumptions, the repeated, passionate references to the distinction between causality and correlation is impressive if not audacious, to say the least.

Suffice to say, “"As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions".

Exactly, Stephen. And that would work extremely well as an inside joke too. Unless you are implying that, in contrast with the usual textboo
Well,this is the most terrible book I have ever seen,it was too terrible to read.It’s so terrible that I just want to burn it as fast as I can,and it cost me 58RMB.That was 58RMB,it was to expensive for me to afford.At first.I thought it was a good book,and I spend all my money on this book.And I was pretty annoyed about this I don’t have any other money for my breakfast,lunch,and even dinner.I haven’t drink juice for the whole year.Reading this is a waste of time,no one want to see this book ag ...more
William Moore
Freakonomics: a rogue economist – Is that all there is?

The title of Freakonomics tells us that Steven Levitt is a “rogue economist” exploring the “the hidden side of everything.” I have always been up for a rogue telling me about everything. Even a rogue telling me about anything appeals to me; you know that special insight that only a mischievous, perhaps unprincipled, but somehow likeable person has. From the title I even conjured up some noble rogue elephant tearing apart the civilized world
This is a very American book. Not just because all of the examples in it are set in the US, but also the hype about it is terribly American too. It has the tone of self congratulation that has sold a million self-help books. Which is a pity, as what it has to say is terribly interesting and amusing.

The stuff at the end about how the name you are born with affects your life is very interesting. Also the idea, that is clearly true, but I'd never thought of it before, that people give their daughte
Shitikanth Kashyap
I could not finish this book. It made me cringe twice on each of the hundred odd pages that I did force myself to read.

Would I recommend this book to you? If you don't know how people use statistics to detect fraud, go ahead and read this book. You will find it to be entertaining and informative. On the other hand, if you feel strongly about the difference between correlation and causality and already know what, say, Benford's law is, spare yourself the horror. You will find yourself reaching fo
Erin Stephens
Honestly not something I would pick up if it wasn't for school. I didn't enjoy this book. It dragged on where it didn't need to and left me in the dust at times. Over all, don't read it unless you have to.
Jorge Gómez
No deja de ser interesante esta clase de análisis, mas cómo una forma simpática de darnos cuenta, a que punto, puede llegar el enceguecimiento intelectual.

Ya que eso, es lo que propone este libro. Una serie de fenómenos, explicados de manera monocausal, y que dista, mucho, de ofrecer una respuesta tentativa. El libro, es una buena recopilación de datos, pero falla, en lo que el mismo libro reconoce que otros/as erran, la vinculación de los indicios con el fenómeno estudiado.

Interesante para comp
Jesse Lehrer
The overarching point of this book is absolutely correct: conventional wisdom and what we perceive to be logical often is not. Our society is wrapped up and smothered in incorrect, dysfunctional assumptions that continue to rule our world and ruin our lives. Bigotry, ignorance, prejudice, fear, and the way people in power use these tools to divide and conquer us is at the root of all of our problems.

That being said - everything else in this book is mediocre to bad. The writers make repeated assu
You know, I really enjoy economics and I used to listen to the Freakonomics podcast so I figured I'd enjoy this book more than I did. I think it's lack of a theme (which the authors clearly warn readers about ahead of time) contributed to my overall "meh" attitude. Additionally, I found myself yearning for more than just Levitt's observations and findings. For example, simply stating that data shows higher abortion rates yield lower crime rates and then not delving too deeply into the reasons th ...more
Jackie Daggers
This book is very similar to Malcom Gladwell's "Blink." The book prides itself on using the ideas of economics to understand the world (primarily the idea of incentives). What they really look at is coincidence. For ex, their correlation of abortion being legaized and the subsequent drop in crime rates in the 90's (implying heavily that the kids who would end up being criminals were aborted) exists, but they never both to look at any other factor that could have caused the crime rate drops. They ...more
Meh. It is interesting enough to take me from beginning to end. I think many of the ideas are presented to shock the reader. I found the book to be shallow, hypocritical, and racist. The authors claim that correlation doesn't equal causality, then proceed to argue some very weakly linked correlations as causalities. By using data, that "doesn't lie," the authors shit all over others research and professions while standing on some sort of Economic high ground. Claiming that the field is inherentl ...more
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Steven David "Steve" Levitt is a prominent American economist best known for his work on crime, in particular on the link between legalized abortion and crime rates. Winner of the 2003 John Bates Clark Medal, he is currently the Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, director of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Bu ...more
More about Steven D. Levitt...

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“Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work, wheareas economics represents how it actually does work.” 124 likes
“The conventional wisdom is often wrong.” 46 likes
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