Trevor's Reviews > Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
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's review
Mar 20, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: economics, behavioural-economics

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 daughters crazier names than their sons.

The point of this book is to say that sometimes there are very interesting correlations between things that seem quite disparate. The big one (and I haven't checked, but I assume this one didn't go down terribly well with the religious right in America) was the idea that the drop in violent crime in the US was due to the drop in violent criminals and this was due to there being less people brought up in abject poverty which is due to people being able to have access to abortion and not bringing unwanted children into the world.

The comparisons between drug dealers and McDonalds as a corporate structure is now received wisdom - Obama quotes this in his book.

Overall this is a great little read and quite fun - but really, I can't think of a single book that was improved by self-congratulation.
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05/22 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Tina (last edited Mar 21, 2008 04:07PM) (new)

Tina Titcombe Hi Bro, can I borrow this book from you, sounds interesting. Also can you post another photo as this one does not do you justice.

message 2: by Trevor (last edited Mar 22, 2008 02:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Trevor I've left it at mum's - figuring you'll see her before you see me. The stuff in the book about school assessments being linked to teachers' pay increases and how this encourages teachers to cheat the system is also fascinating. Especially since the Libs are always threatening to introduce this sort of system over here.

So, little sister, there ye are and where are ye.

And the photo has to stay for a little while longer - it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Carlo I've recently finished it and it was really fun. I think statistical analysis can particularly be good for marketing. I think it is kind of limited for individual application which is the nature of statistics. But nonetheless, the book can help us look into a bigger context when analyzing causality.

David Sarkies I found the book quite interesting, even though they do say that there are three things in politics - lies, damn lies, and statistics. This falls into the third category.

Trevor The more I've thought about this book over the years, the less impressed I've become with it. I started going off it with the second book in the series - I believe there is a third, but I haven't been bothered to find it yet. But you are right, there are certainly interesting parts of this book.

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