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Freakonomics (Freakonomics #1)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  478,741 Ratings  ·  12,134 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? 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 econom
Published February 9th 2006 by Editions Denoël (first published November 15th 2001)
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Christoff Youngman What about it is genius? The authors ask some good questions, but some of the ways they interpret their data is questionable. If you look around the…moreWhat about it is genius? The authors ask some good questions, but some of the ways they interpret their data is questionable. If you look around the net you'll find people elsewhere asking the same things but coming to completely different conclusions.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 24, 2008 Jim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, candy
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
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
Jul 09, 2007 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 really liked it  ·  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
Sep 08, 2014 Cbzlqxw rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Muckle
Apr 01, 2011 Andrew Muckle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jesus H Tittyfucking Christ on a bike! Could these two tossers be any more smarmy and self indulgent? Levitt and Dubner and probably the kind of smart arse nerds who snigger at you because you don't understand linux but sneer at you because you've actually spoken to a woman.

This book is much like the Emperor's New Clothes, people are so scared about being left out if they don't like or understand it because some sandal wearing hippy in the Guardian said it's 'This year's Das Capital' or some su
May 08, 2010 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe S
Dec 28, 2007 Joe S rated it it was ok  ·  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
Niadwynwen Koch
Apr 01, 2015 Niadwynwen Koch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this audiobook unbearable. I turned it off halfway through and listened to the public radio pledge drive instead.
Dec 22, 2014 Natalie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The "experts are evil, have agendas, will trick you" talk got old real fast, especially when points are later being backed up with experts research. There's not enough discussion on the data itself, no distinction between quantitative and qualitative, and not enough discussion on the many flaws of data and how we analyze it. Pretty interesting how much he dislikes criminologists but then (if I remember correctly), only mentions the same one or two names over and over when giving examples of crim ...more
Erin Stephens
Aug 07, 2015 Erin Stephens rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 02, 2015 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology, cl
Yeah, this isn't 'rogue economics'. This is sociology. It's not a new discipline. And this is really spurious sociology that wouldn't pass muster in academia, so Levitt published it for public consumption.
Jul 09, 2008 Jake rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Cherie Keller
This book is a good example of garbage in, garbage out. The demonstration of critical thinking is good on a superficial level. But that it where the good stuff ends. The background facts used to perform their logical analyses suffer from gaps in relevant facts to downright misinformation. Even worse is the impression given that the background research is astonishingly thorough and accurate. It is not. Don't take their word for it on anything. A quick Google search yields rebuttals from true expe ...more
Mar 14, 2008 Paulius rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2007 Aileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2007 Elise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2013 Carlos rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jackie Daggers
May 21, 2012 Jackie Daggers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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)
William Moore
Jul 23, 2010 William Moore rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily Hurley
Oct 22, 2007 Emily Hurley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i was totally unimpressed. i didn't even finish. i know people like this one, but something about the constant references to levitt's genius and "rogue-ish-ness" turned me off. if someone is brillian i think it should come across in their writing with out having to assert it in the introduction. oh! and the part at the beginning where he wonders how the homeless guy can afford headphones, and this is suppossed to be an example of how uniquely his mind works?! please.
Mar 24, 2015 Alena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Everything I hate about popular science - alternating between over-simplified, patronising, naive or simply annoying, but worst of all, blatantly refusing to take account of the political and social implications of its findings, and being proud of it.
Megan Thompson
Sep 18, 2015 Megan Thompson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is grueling. I give up.

I'm an artist, a designer, and a business owner. I've been thinking abstractly and questioning things my entire life. Perhaps I've been blessed to have been brought up by a family and community of teachers always urging me to challenge my thinking.

This mode of thinking is not unique to me and I find the writing style incredibly intolerable to follow. It's as if he just wrote out his thoughts as they were coming to him with no clear outline. I am very much in favo
Emre Poyraz
what's wrong with this book?

1. this book has nothing to do with economics. Something like "freakostatistics" would make much more sense as the name of the book.

2. in the introduction, the writers warn us that correlation does not imply causality. OK, agreed. But the rest of the book is just that: THEY act as if correlation and causality are the same thing (but they just have more "fun" explanation for stuff). What exactly is their proof that they are not "inventing explanations" based on correl
Jul 23, 2015 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Verbose, repetitive, contradictory: a book of 200-pages that could be condensed to 3-5 pages.

Titles that vary from scintillating to insulting, yet are followed by a chapter that doesn't support the title bar.

Anecdotal stories, mistaken for data or hypothesis. Interpretations and hypotheses are drawn from data that could still be interpreted in multiple ways.

The book claims that it will link the unexpected, but frankly, links the obvious, with many "well duh" moments.

Needless generations of lis
Vadassery Thaiparambil Rakesh
The apt name would have been F**konomics, for the book hovers around the passing of abortion bill in USA. How can somebody write a book of 200 pages out of nothing is a mystery to me. What intrigues me more is that many newspapers had wrote great things about this book, a perfect case of hype creating a best seller.
All gas no substance. And nothing to do with economics rather than some stupid black-white demographics and some obvious facts. Thank God, I'm through with this.
Sep 10, 2014 Name rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This writer's name is totally a rubbish. Only a freak will have this name,from that,we can easily learn that the parents of the writer are stupid jerks,too.So sure that the family of him are all goddam stupids actually.That's why he becomes a unsuccessful writer.I wondered if why he isn't an asshole!actually he is,only that we don't admit.opps,it'ts truly a sad story.also,the books he wrote makes me sick.An animal will write a book like him actually.
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Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He is best-known for writing, along with the economist Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics (2005) and SuperFreakonomics (2009), which have sold more than 5 million copies in 35 languages.

Dubner is also the author of Turbulent Souls/Choosing My Religion (1998), Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper (2003), and the children
More about Stephen Dubner...

Other Books in the Series

Freakonomics (4 books)
  • SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
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  • When to Rob a Bank

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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.” 134 likes
“The conventional wisdom is often wrong.” 52 likes
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