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Freakonomics #3

Think Like A Freak: Berpikir Tidak Biasa untuk Hasil yang Luar Biasa

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• Apa rahasia juara dunia lomba makan hot dog
• Asal Jepang yang makan 50 hot dog dalam 12 menit?
• Apa alasan seorang dokter asal Australia rela menelan setumpuk bakteri berbahaya?
• Bagaimana bisa calon teroris terdeteksi melalui rekening bank di Inggris?
• Mengapa penipu melalui e-mail sering menyatakan diri berasal dari Nigeria?
• Mengapa orang dewasa justru mudah ditipu daripada anak-anak?

Buku ini memaparkan pemikiran yang tidak biasa, aneh, dan jarang terpikir oleh orang kebanyakan. Disertai contoh-contoh menarik, cerita yang memikat, dan analisis yang tidak lazim, kedua penulis mendorong kita agar mampu berpikir jauh lebih rasional, lebih kreatif, dan lebih produktif.

Cara baru yang revolusioner ini telah terbukti menyelesaikan berbagai masalah, baik masalah kecil ataupun global. Anda pun bisa mempraktikkannya di berbagai bidang, mulai dari bisnis, olahraga, hingga politik.

268 pages, Paperback

First published May 12, 2014

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About the author

Steven D. Levitt

29 books3,756 followers
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 Business, and co-editor of the Journal of Political Economy published by the University of Chicago Press. He is one of the most well known economists amongst laymen, having co-authored the best-selling book Freakonomics (2005). Levitt was chosen as one of Time Magazine's "100 People Who Shape Our World" in 2006.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,705 reviews
Profile Image for Maria.
740 reviews44 followers
May 25, 2014
Pretty great for non-podcast listeners, but as someone who loves the Freakonomics podcast, most of this material has already been featured on there, and some of it in greater detail.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
656 reviews7,105 followers
September 30, 2014

Not Very Freaky

A very ordinary effort. Levitt & Dubner tells us the recipe to “Think Like a Freak”. Most of the ingredients are quite ordinary and almost all are trodden territory. A wholly unnecessary book.

1. That all the Big Problems of the world are too tough to solve for ordinary people like us and that we should nibble at the edges.
- A bit about game theory and about how most problems arise due to private vs public conflicts and how we need learn to realign incentives to solve small problems. Keep nudging the incentives and solving small incentive-problems. The very soul of Freakonomics.
2. That we should learn - to say “I don’t know” more often, especially the experts. A few stories thrown in about how stupid people who try to predict the future are.
- Also, don’t bring your moral compass into your predictions/decisions. And always look for feedback if you want to keep improving.
3. That we have to learn - to ask the Right Question. Reframe the question to get ahead.
- Endlessly experiment to get the right feedback on the reframed problem. The ‘abortion & crime’ story is repeated. AGAIN!
4. That we should - Think like a Child: Have fun. Don’t ignore the obvious. Think small.
5. That we should obsess over - Incentives, Again: Understand contexts; Reframe contexts. Use appropriate incentives. NEVER mix your incentives!
6. That we can win arguments: How to win an Argument: Don’t pretend your argument is perfect. Acknowledge their viewpoint and... meh.
7. That we might want to think of - When to Quit: Avoid the sunk cost fallacy. BTW, this chapter is for us too — We (Levitt & Dubner) just might quit writing this stuff!

In short, nothing really exciting, nothing novel. Nothing that fires the imagination. I am not at all freaked out by the ideas & stories presented here. They can still spin a good yarn, but that gets old fast without the essential ingredient - radical ideas.

If indeed the freakish duo decides to call it quits, it would be a pity that this was added to their otherwise magnificent legacy.
November 15, 2020
… just because you’re at the office is no reason to stop thinking. (c) Amen!
Show us a “perfect” solution and we’ll show you our pet unicorn. (c) Love this one.

Some rehashing of the prior ones but under some new angles!
- TransPOOsition
- Salts!
- Kids vs abortions vs parents vs violent crime
- Hot doggies
- Right incentives (candy vs toilet)
- Zappos
- David Lee Roth's brown M&Ms
- Teach Your Garden to Weed Itself
- The Ayalon Institute
- Insurance for suicide bombers trickety-trick
- Go fever, demonizing failure and quitting timely / in an orderly way!

Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. And understanding them—or, often, deciphering them—is the key to understanding a problem, and how it might be solved.
Knowing what to measure, and how to measure it, can make a complicated world less so. There is nothing like the sheer power of numbers to scrub away layers of confusion and contradiction, especially with emotional, hot-button topics.
The conventional wisdom is often wrong. And a blithe acceptance of it can lead to sloppy, wasteful, or even dangerous outcomes.
Correlation does not equal causality. When two things travel together, it is tempting to assume that one causes the other. Married people, for instance, are demonstrably happier than single people; does this mean that marriage causes happiness? Not necessarily. The data suggest that happy people are more likely to get married in the first place. As one researcher memorably put it, “If you’re grumpy, who the hell wants to marry you?” (c)
this isn’t a self-help book in the traditional sense. We are probably not the kind of people you’d typically want to ask for help; and some of our advice tends to get people into trouble rather than out of it. (c)
Our thinking is inspired by what is known as the economic approach. That doesn’t mean focusing on “the economy”—far from it. The economic approach is both broader and simpler than that. It relies on data, rather than hunch or ideology, to understand how the world works, to learn how incentives succeed (or fail), how resources get allocated, and what sort of obstacles prevent people from getting those resources, whether they are concrete (like food and transportation) or more aspirational (like education and love).
There is nothing magical about this way of thinking. It usually traffics in the obvious and places a huge premium on common sense. So here’s the bad news: if you come to this book hoping for the equivalent of a magician spilling his secrets, you may be disappointed. But there’s good news too: thinking like a Freak is simple enough that anyone can do it. What’s perplexing is that so few people do.
Why is that?
One reason is that it’s easy to let your biases—political, intellectual, or otherwise—color your view of the world. A growing body of research suggests that even the smartest people tend to seek out evidence that confirms what they already think, rather than new information that would give them a more robust view of reality.
It’s also tempting to run with a herd. ...
Another barrier to thinking like a Freak is that most people are too busy to rethink the way they think—or to even spend much time thinking at all. When was the last time you sat for an hour of pure, unadulterated thinking?... The absurdly talented George Bernard Shaw—a world-class writer and a founder of the London School of Economics—noted this thought deficit many years ago. “Few people think more than two or three times a year,” Shaw reportedly said. “I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”
We too try to think once or twice a week (though surely not as cleverly as Shaw) and encourage you to do the same.(c)
This is not to say you should necessarily want to think like a Freak. It presents some potential downsides. You may find yourself way, way out of step with the prevailing winds. You might occasionally say things that make other people squirm...
You’ll have to grow accustomed to people calling you a crank, or sputtering with indignation, or perhaps even getting up and walking out of the room. We have some firsthand experience with this. (c)
The next time you run into a question that you can only pretend to answer, go ahead and say “I don’t know”—and then follow up, certainly, with “but maybe I can find out.” And work as hard as you can to do that. You may be surprised by how receptive people are to your confession, especially when you come through with the real answer a day or a week later.
But even if this goes poorly—if your boss sneers at your ignorance or you can’t figure out the answer no matter how hard you try—there is another, more strategic benefit to occasionally saying “I don’t know.” Let’s say you’ve already done that on a few occasions. The next time you’re in a real jam, facing an important question that you just can’t answer, go ahead and make up something—and everyone will believe you, because you’re the guy who all those other times was crazy enough to admit you didn’t know the answer.
After all, just because you’re at the office is no reason to stop thinking. (c)
From what we’ve seen personally, the best predictor of success among young economists and journalists is whether they absolutely love what they do. If they approach their job like—well, a job—they aren’t likely to thrive. But if they’ve somehow convinced themselves that running regressions or interviewing strangers is the funnest thing in the world, you know they have a shot. (c)
The key is to learn to climb inside other people’s minds to figure out what really matters to them. (c)
Customer reps are encouraged to talk to a customer for as long as they want (all without a script, natch); they are authorized to settle problems without calling in a supervisor and can even “fire” a customer who makes trouble. (c)
Backfiring bounties are, sadly, not as rare as one might hope. This phenomenon is sometimes called “the cobra effect.”…
As Mark Twain once wrote: “[T]he best way to increase wolves in America, rabbits in Australia, and snakes in India is to pay a bounty on their scalps. Then every patriot goes to raising them.” (c)
Which leads us to the most bizarre twist in this bizarre story: if medieval priests did manipulate the ordeals, that might make them the only parties who thought an all-knowing God didn’t exist—or if he did, that he had enough faith in his priestly deputies to see their tampering as part of a divine quest for justice. (c)
Quitting is hard in part because it is equated with failure, and nobody likes to fail, or at least be seen failing. But is failure necessarily so terrible? We don’t think so. For every ten Freakonomics research projects we take up, roughly nine are abandoned within a month. For whatever reason, it turns out we aren’t the right people to take them on. Resources are not infinite: you cannot solve tomorrow’s problem if you aren’t willing to abandon today’s dud. Nor should failure be considered a total loss. Once you start thinking like a Freak and running experiments, you’ll find that failure can provide valuable feedback. (c)
When failure is demonized, people will try to avoid it at all costs—even when it represents nothing more than a temporary setback. (c)
Have we definitively proven that people are on average more likely to be better off if they quit more jobs, relationships, and projects? (c) Waaait. No! Whoo.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews762 followers
April 27, 2017
I feel that a lot of self-help or businesses type books now all follow the same formula and in the end talk about the same few ideas again and again. Like there really isn't a need for a whole book on some of these ideas like thinking outside the box or being comfortable making mistakes. I really only get something out of reading them if I'm feeling lost unsure about what I'm doing because they kind of help me ground myself or become motivated again. Otherwise though it feels like a waste of time like how many anecdotes do I need to read about creative thinking honestly.
Profile Image for Jill.
2,190 reviews81 followers
May 30, 2014
Levitt and Dubner’s earlier two books, Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics were smashing successes because they came up with innovative insights to make sense of phenomena that were rather mysterious, such as an explanation for the drop in the crime rate over the last decade.

Hoping to find similar out-of-the-box proposals, I was eager to try their third book, Think Like A Freak.

This book contains a few surprises, but overall it seems like a slap-dash production intended to cash in on the success of their previous enterprises. As such, it is somewhat duller reading. There are a few interesting analyses, like about the rationale for the popular email extortion scam based in Nigeria, or how a love of "fun" might be harnessed to encourage people to save more money.

For the most part, however, the chapters read like filler material. They include platitudinous management suggestions that make common sense but not compelling reading, such as in the chapter on “How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded," and “revelations” about phenomena ranging from the etiology of ulcers to the causes of obesity that made the rounds of popular magazines years ago.

Using the examples of King Solomon and rock singer David Lee Roth to provide examples of game theory may have been cute, but it felt like the authors were reaching for the lowest common denominator. In fact, it seemed more like a chapter on the meta subject of How to Expand Your Potential Reading Audience.

The last chapter of the book discusses when it is advisable to quit whatever is it you have been doing for too long. Maybe the authors should take their own advice and call it a day.

Evaluation: This book is mildly entertaining, but not up the standards set in the first two. Gone are the "economics" of the earlier books; more challenging content has been replaced with bromidic bullet points and stories I read a long time ago in doctor's waiting room periodicals.

Rating: 2.5/5
Profile Image for Abyssdancer (Hanging in there!).
131 reviews19 followers
February 14, 2022
Another enjoyable “Freakonomics” installation, this time instructing and supporting those who want to lead a “Freakier” life … in order to achieve “Freakness,” suggest the authors, one must know when to quit or when to say, “I don’t know” … one must know how and when to incentivize … and one must be humble enough to “think like a child” …

Of course, they delve into descriptions of experiments that support or deny the point they are trying to make … they follow the career of Takeru Kobayashi, the man who broke records in hot-dog-eating championships, and how he analyzed the mechanics of the competition in order to succeed … they show how an Australian scientist solved the problem in curing stomach ulcers … and they demonstrate how an advertising exec was able to radicalize fundraising efforts for an international charity, Smile Train …

Of course, all of this is written with such a blithe tongue-in-cheek sense of humor … I especially loved reading about their experiment wherein they “flipped a coin” to solve dilemmas in people’s lives, from “Should I quit my job?” to “Should I grow a beard?” and analyzed people’s experiences in following the coin flip …

But I learned a lot about myself … what incentives govern my life … how difficult it is for me to admit I have no answer to someone’s question … and most importantly, I need to learn how to laugh at myself …


Too soon …
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,543 reviews12.9k followers
January 17, 2016
If I changed the title to “Think Outside the Box” you’d probably have a good idea of what to expect from this book - and you’d be right!

Granted I’ve not read Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt’s other “Freak” books, Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, but I suspect they’re just more of what’s contained in Think Like a Freak. Hey, if it ain’t broke, right?

Think Like a Freak essentially has one very broad thesis: to approach any difficult situation/problem from an unexpected angle to solve it/excel at it. It’s not a new idea. The writers relate stories to illustrate this, which I’m sure more than a few people have already heard. How David Lee Roth, the lead singer of Van Halen, ensured the venues they played at adhered to their lengthy stage setup by putting a clause in their rider for no brown M&M’s - if there were none when they got there it meant the promoter had read everything carefully; if there were it meant the crew needed to do a thorough check of the equipment to make sure nobody would be hurt at the show.

Or the little Japanese fella who became a Coney Island hot dog eating champion by taking apart the hot dog - separating the bun, dunking it in a glass of water, breaking up the hot dog, and eating everything this way. Before that everyone used to eat them whole, limiting the amount they could competitively eat; now everyone does it the new way.

It goes on like this with case after case being brought up of old thinking being usurped by those who came to a situation differently and changed everything. Not that I’m against this attitude in any way but it means Think Like a Freak is quite a shallow read. It has one unremarkable mantra repetitively underlined throughout. Trotting out case studies to prove the benefits of thinking like a freak or outside the box, or whatever, doesn’t make this any more valid or compelling.

Sure, there are nuances throughout. They encourage people to think like a child, think about smaller portions of a problem rather than the problem as a whole in order to progress to a solution, saying “I don’t know” is often more useful an answer than saying either yes or no, know when to quit, humans enjoy stories and use them to understand problems so do that whenever trying to explain things (which they apply in this book). But it feels so unsubstantial and obvious - really nothing here stands out as unique or brilliant to recommend readers to pick it up.

Maybe Dubner/Levitt were trying to parlay their Freakonomics brand into a kind of self-help methodology but it doesn’t work. Think Like a Freak has a few interesting stories but it’s all in service to a completely uninspired and smug thesis that felt like a lazy product than a book they cared about writing.
Profile Image for Jen Lawrence.
Author 5 books7 followers
August 25, 2019
I loved this book. No, scratch that. I LOVED this book. Authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore how the iconoclastic approach to data revealed in Freakonomics can improve the way we think. As they write, “This book steps out of the shadows and tries to offer some advice that may occasionally be useful, whether you are interested in minor lifehacks or major global reforms.” I have to admit that I became biased in favour of this book when I saw the early reference to Philip Tetlock, who I have loved ever since his piece, Why Foxes Are Better Forecasters Than Hedgehogs (with apologies to the Publisher of this fine newspaper, of course…) But I will try to write an open-minded review.

Before researching this book, the authors naturally saw the world through the rational lenses of economics and statistics and were curious to find out why so many decisions seem illogical. The books starts by reviewing the thinking process of a soccer player who is about to make a critical penalty kick in the championship game of the World Cup. The authors turn to the data about penalty kicks to see where the player should direct the ball to maximize his chance of success. They then look at where he is most likely to aim the ball. “While a penalty kick aimed at the centre of the goal is significantly more likely to succeed, only 17% of kicks are aimed there. Why so few?”

The authors realize that the decision cannot be made based on statistics alone as the rational side of the brain is forced to contend with the emotional side. This is not, of course, new information. Back in about 370 BC, Plato was writing about the tug between the intellect and the heart. More recently, Jonathan Haidt wrote about the struggle between the rider (the rational brain) and the elephant (the emotional brain) in The Happiness Hypothesis. What makes Think Like a Freak so good is that the authors breathe life into this oft-explored slice of neuroscience through the art of storytelling, like the example about the soccer game. True, kicking a ball dead centre towards the goalie is statistically more likely to result in a goal. But if the goalie does manage to stop the ball kicked right to him, the kicker looks like a bit of an idiot (“Why’d you kick it righ’ to ‘im?” the hooligans in the stands will shout.) As the authors write, “Aiming towards the centre has a better chance of success, but aiming towards the corner is less risky to his own reputation.” And, as they go on to describe, humans (and, in our experience, animals) are rather more interested in “protecting our own reputation rather than promoting the collective good” in spite of claiming otherwise. Therefore, most goalies take the riskier corner kick that is less likely to be successful but has the tried-my-very-best optics for the crowd.

In order to think like a Freak, the authors say that we need to be aware of, and overcome, some of the general biases that mess with our ability to think well. None of these ideas are original (I discuss a number of these issues in my soon-to-be-released book, Engage the Fox) but the authors’ gift resides in their ability to tell a memorable story. Instead of boring the reader silly with talk of confirmation biases and herd mentality and the gap between revealed and declared preferences, they walk us through memorable examples such as how the Smile Train charity raises funds by not asking for money, why Zappos offers new employees $2000 to quit, and why rocker David Lee Roth insists on a candy bowl containing no brown M&Ms.

This book will appeal to the business reader (our favourite line is “just because you are at the office is no reason to stop thinking”) and any reader interested in improving the way they think. Levitt and Dubner are not afraid to make bold suggestions such as why one should regularly say “I don’t know” and the benefits of being a quitter. They describe why it’s good to act like a kid as “there is no correlation between appearing to be serious and actually being good at what you do. In fact, an argument can be made that the opposite is true.” Phew! That observation alone is worth the price of the book. The authors find wisdom in the most interesting places, such as studying why kids are better at seeing through magic tricks than adults: “by seeing things from a literally new angle, you can sometimes gain an edge in solving a problem.”

One of the most powerful sections in the book covers the art of persuading someone to change his or her mind. The authors are not optimistic: “As hard as it is to think creatively about problems and come up with solutions…it is even harder to persuade people who do not wish to be persuaded.” They dissect a $1 billion anti-drug campaign that not only did not turn people off drugs, but possibly made drug use appear more appealing. They then outline the most useful strategies for getting others to change their opinions (hint: don’t start campaigning with the so-called smartest guys in the room, but not for the reason you think.) In keeping with their Freak perspective, they show how pointing out the flaws in your own arguments is one of the most effective ways to convince people you are right.

Not surprisingly, the authors find that the most effective way to change someone’s mind is to tell them a compelling story. And this is, of course, the heart of the book’s success. All three of the books in the Freakonomics series sing because memorable stories illustrate potent theories. At the end of this book, the authors, firmly embracing the idea that it’s OK to quit, threaten that this is their last book in this series. I hope that this is not, in fact, the case. The authors succeed in bringing thinking to life which, as a fox-like thinker, is something I take quite seriously. Hopefully the early success of this book will convince the authors to do more work in the field.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,605 reviews2,309 followers
September 4, 2018
Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner is a book I wish had been around (or I had thought like a freak) thirty years ago. We used to call it 'thinking outside the box ' but I like their phrase much better! Excellent book to try to retrain my brain, not that it is trained now. I think everyone should read this, especially young people.
Profile Image for Brian Clegg.
Author 204 books2,651 followers
May 23, 2014
I loved Freakonomics and its sequel, so was expecting more of the same here, but Think Like a Freak is a very different book and suffers by comparison.

The thing that absolutely blew everyone away with the earlier books was the absolute string of superb eye-opening stories, taking a sideways look at a problem using statistics and psychology (it wasn’t really economics, but it worked as a title). Perhaps the definitive example was the idea that crime rates had fallen as a result of increased availability of abortions some years earlier. In this book, though, the Freakonomics authors set out to teach us their methodology and, by comparison it’s a bit dull.

What we get is often ittle more than a collection of management consultancy platitudes like ‘thinking small is powerful’ and ‘it’s good to quit’, because in the end the special thing about the Freakonomics approach was not the basic tools, which are two a penny, but the way the authors employed them. Occasionally we do get a great little story – I particularly love the exploration of how to do better in football penalty shootouts – but there just aren’t enough of them, specifically not enough really surprising, ‘Wow!’ stories like the ones that fill the previous books. The authors really should have taken their own advice when they say the most powerful form of persuasion they know is to use stories. We need more great stories, guys!

I would also pick up on another point they made. When talking about the benefits of quitting (where appropriate) they say ‘Should we take our own advice and think about quitting? After three Freakonomics books, can we possibly have more to say – and will anyone care?’ The answer is yes, and no. ‘Yes’, quit doing this kind of book – but ‘no’ don’t give up and write us another Freakonomics if you can, as we will be ready to lap up more of those mind-bending ideas.
Profile Image for Rick Presley.
492 reviews12 followers
July 24, 2014
I got the audio version from the library and was delighted to find that Steven Dubner, famous for his Freakonomics Radio, was the narrator. In typical whimsical style, they extended their previous ideas into the realm of practical suggestions. While they aren't covering Friedman style weighty economic issues, this book is excellent for what it purports to be - a light-hearted treatment of thinking differently. While it isn't profound or weighty, it is just as useful for all that. In fact the accessibility and whimsy in the book are part of its charm and what makes it effective.

I would recommend this to anyone open to thinking about the way they think. If creativity can be taught and if people are willing to take novel approaches to problem solving, then this book provides a way forward. Sure, it could be summarized into a single poster with some bullet points, but the narrative anecdotes give concrete reality to the tips. My fear is that that those who will be most helped by the book will be those who least need it and those who are hopelessly ossified into their own way of thinking will not change. But that's the risk with any "self-help" book. In any case, I applaud the Steves and encourage everyone to give this a look. Or better yet, a listen.
May 18, 2014
Fun fun fun fun fun! This was my favorite of the franchise. Like its predecessors, it is filled with amusing stories which usually highlight some economic or behavioral principle (such as sunk cost, cobra effect, etc...). Unlike its predecessors, this book has an underlying structure of a "how to" book. I feel that this gives the book a more coherent flow. The writing is accessible to anyone, lighthearted in tone, entertaining, and it moves very fast. If you listen to the podcast, many of the stories will already be familiar to you. This didn't bother me at all as I enjoyed reading them now more than listening to them the first time. I try to reserve 5-star ratings for books that either make me see the world differently, provide a deep emotionally experience, or make me laugh really hard. Because this book did neither, I give it a 4+, but I highly recommend it to everyone. Did you ever wonder why Nigerian email scammers ALWAYS advertise that they are from Nigeria? Read the book to find out...
Profile Image for Mara.
401 reviews282 followers
August 19, 2014
This book won't be 2.5/5 stars for everyone. If, like myself, you enjoyed Steven and Stephen's earlier volumes, Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics , then congratulations! — you've found a subject area that interests you (albeit a sometimes nebulous one that can show up under the guise of a variety of disciplines). If, for some reason, you only feel comfortable learning about the ways in which data and patterns can reveal the inner workings of our world with these two Freakonomists, then this book is for you.

However, I'm an ever-curious being with little patience; and, thus, haven't been sitting around just waiting for the Steven/Stephens to give me the go ahead. I thought of giving a list of recommended reading here, but one of the cool things about Freakonomics is that its principles can be applied to almost anything — for me this has included books on the philosophical nature of humanity as well as ones that helped me figure out how to run a G-D factor analysis to draft my fantasy football team (spoiler alert: it wasn't that helpful for football purposes, but learning how to use R opened a whole new world of statistical computing fun for me).

So go forth and "Think Like a Freak," but, honestly, you might not need to read this book in order to do that.
Profile Image for May.
299 reviews12 followers
November 28, 2018
Easy and fun to read. It basically discusses how one should approach problems (big or small) and provides general steps that would help if we follow them through, like admitting when one doesn't know something, figuring out the real problem and its roots, thinking like a child, looking for and providing incentives to get certain things done, and so on.
It also has some really interesting ideas that I would like to try myself some time.
I recommend it to everyone.
Profile Image for Kressel Housman.
974 reviews226 followers
July 16, 2014
I’m a big Freakonomics fan. I’ve read the two previous books, seen the movie, and I regularly listen to the podcasts. So for a fan like me, this book was slightly disappointing because I’d heard most of the material before on the podcasts. Still, since I love the lessons so much, I didn’t mind a review. I especially liked the lesson of embracing failure instead of fearing it. Temporarily putting away your moral compass before analyzing problems was a good one, too. As the authors say, you can’t solve a problem if you’ve already decided what to do about it.

Thanks to Freakonomics, the subject of economics is more human to me, and I’ve gone on to read more books on the subject, most of them more academic in style. Because of that, the light-hearted style that appealed to me so much with the first books seems a little too light to me now. But ultimately, I love what these authors have to say, so I’ll read/listen to/watch anything they come out with, and I’m always looking forward to more.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,143 reviews
June 1, 2015
Freakonomics and the follow up book, SuperFreakonomics were two of those books that changed the way people looked at the world and the things that happened in it. In this third volume, Levitt and Dubner are aiming to teach you the way of thinking outside the box as they do.

With chapters as diverse as The Three Hardest Words in the English Language, How to Think Like a Child and Like Giving Candy to a Baby, they bring more stories and anecdotes that demonstrate just how lateral thinking can bring a fresh perspective on a problem, and that sometimes the uncomplicated answer is the correct one.

Whilst this is a great read, Dubner writes some very readable text, it feels like a thin veneer rather than having the depth that the earlier books had. Interesting though, and may be the place to start if you have never read anything by these authors before.
Profile Image for Yousif Al Zeera.
239 reviews80 followers
July 9, 2016
Levitt and Dubner continue to dazzle readers, freaks and soon-to-be-freaks with their fascinating way of combining data and narration to present interesting (and very much informative) stories on various fields.

In this book, the "theoretical" ratio slightly increased than the previous two books as the intention is lay down the foundations of "how to think like a freak", basically how to rely more on "data" and less on "anecdote". It is still full of splendid stories.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews870 followers
June 23, 2015
I prefer the audiobooks over the physical books. They’re great for listening while doing other things.

This is the third book in the Freakonomics series. You don’t need to read them in order. I’ve enjoyed all three. They talk about a variety of subjects.

One subject was intriguing and not answered. A multinational retail company bought tv ads 3 times a year. They had their highest sales at those three times. The authors asked the question did the ads cause the sales? Or did the sales cause the ads? The company took out ads on the three biggest sale days: Black Friday, Christmas, and Father’s Day. The same company paid for advertising inserts in newspapers year round. The authors suggested the company run an experiment to see if those ads paid off - by doing no ads in selected areas for a few months and then comparing sales data. The marketing guys refused to experiment. They said they’d get fired if they stopped advertising. But they admitted that one summer an intern forgot to place the ads in the Pittsburgh area and there was no decrease in sales during that time. And still, the marketing guys refused to experiment. I’m having trouble with that. I don’t think I’d want to invest money in that company.

The authors looked at religious communities in Germany - or somewhere near there. They found Protestants made more money than Catholics - even though they all started with the same wages per hour. The reasons were: Protestants worked more hours per week, Protestants were more likely to be self employed, and more Protestant women worked than Catholic women.

Want to keep restrooms cleaner? Paint a fly in the urinal – male desire to target practice.

At the end of the audiobook, there are several episodes from Freakonomics Radio. They are available as podcasts from iTunes and the Freakonomics web site. They were good.

Co-author Stephen Dubner was excellent as a narrator. Good production equipment - I didn’t hear his breaths - yay.

Unabridged audiobook length: 7 hrs and 5 mins. Swearing language: none. Sexual content: none. Book copyright: 2014. Genre: nonfiction, economics.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Golovatyi.
424 reviews34 followers
November 25, 2017
The book is full of a wealth of interesting stories with non-standard approaches to problem solving. Incredibly interesting stories.
Книга сповнена величезною кількістю цікавих історій з нестандартними підходами до вирішення проблем. Неймовірно цікаві історії.

I read books on Scribd or Google Books by
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Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews884 followers
October 16, 2015
An entertaining read - or listen to be exact. Nothing stupendously ground-breaking to be honest but it's stuff that one doesn't really think about being too caught up in the rat race and what might be construed as conventional thinking. What I really like are the real world examples, while it might not be exactly relevant for my field of work in the financial sector, are more accessible and easy to connect to.

The audiobook has added material which is a compilation of a few Freakonomic radio/podcasts which I am still going through. Pretty interesting stuff as well. Might it prompt me to subscribe to their podcasts? We'll just have to see. :)
Profile Image for Nguyen Linh Chi.
83 reviews14 followers
November 25, 2016
One of the most overrated books. Don't understand why it is a best-seller on Amazon. The author has stated some intriguing thoughts, for example, the hardest words in the world are "I don't know" and preconceptions prevents people from seeing things the way they are. However, his arguments are based mostly on his personal ideas and anecdotes. Moreover, these arguments are presented disorderly, which make it hard for readers to follow.

Not recommend purchasing this book. I heard that his 2 books Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and Super Freakonomics are extraordinary. Should I be brave to try these books after bad experience with Think like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain?
Profile Image for Arminius.
205 reviews50 followers
March 8, 2016
Think like a Freak is a book that teaches people to think like kids. That means to not be afraid to not know an answer and investigate your interests without regard to what others may think. It also states to break large problems down and solve the small ones associated with them. The authors use various experiments to prove their points.

They made a website that asks people to flip a coin on whether or not to make a major decision then report how happy they were at a future date. Their conclusions came to the fact that there is an upside to quitting something.

They advise getting into other people’s minds and figure out what really matters to them to get them to do what you want. Watch what they do rather than what they say is how they offer to accomplish this.

Also included in the book were other people’s stories where they thought like freaks and became very successful.
Profile Image for Annie.
870 reviews837 followers
September 18, 2021
If you like their other books "Freakonomics" and "SuperFreakonomics," you'll like this one. However, if you've listened to the Freakonomics podcasts, many of the topics have been covered. Although the podcasts are free, I don't mind paying for the book and reading the few additional topics and stories that weren't covered.
Profile Image for Chafic (Rello).
508 reviews25 followers
July 7, 2019
A Freak. That's what we should all strive to be.
Positive connotations, of course.

A fun and interesting read on how to tackle everyday problems, how to break them down, understand it, and how it can be solved.
Really interesting and informative analyses.

A quick read, definitely recommend

3.88 / 5
Profile Image for Lena.
Author 1 book349 followers
September 26, 2014
This book is similar in format to their previous works - present a supposedly unconventional idea and support it with some entertaining storytelling. It's a very fast, mildly interesting read. Unfortunately, I had the feeling that I'd heard almost all of these stories elsewhere, so the book feels more like it's filling out a book contract than breaking great new ground in human thought.
Profile Image for Paula K .
435 reviews417 followers
January 9, 2015
I listened to the audiobook and couldn't get excited. This was suggested for book club and I have not read any of their previous books. Nothing out of the ordinary here. A few stories got me laughing. Especially the one about people stealing more wood on a trail with a sign asking them NOT to, than the trail that had no sign at all.

2.5 stars rounded up kindly to 3.
Profile Image for Sumit Singla.
462 reviews178 followers
August 21, 2016
'Brilliant' is an adjective that I use quite loosely, but it is totally apt for this book. I've enjoyed the Freakonomics podcast, and some of the material in this book is similar, but it's still great to see it spelled in black and white.

I just can't believe that I am reading this two years too late!

Stephen and Steven emphasize that it is important to look beyond the obvious, when using data to make decisions. They don't really say that you should ignore data points and focus only on your gut. The premise of the book is that we spend too little time in analyzing issues from different angles, and end up making wrong decisions too often.

"The conventional wisdom is often wrong. And a blithe acceptance of it can lead to sloppy, wasteful, or even dangerous outcomes. Correlation does not equal causality. When two things travel together, it is tempting to assume that one causes the other. "

I LOVE folks who can understand the difference between correlation and causality. I think it is absolutely fundamental to decision-making, but is ignored frequently enough. The authors talk about incentives, causality, ultracrepidarianism (quite a mouthful, eh?) and storytelling, among other things.

While the content of this book doesn't differ too much from earlier ones, I still found it deeply insightful and useful. Some portions of the book sound decidedly self-help-ish. But well, if you are a terrorist, you might want to buy that life insurance policy. It's not advice that will save your life though... :)
Profile Image for Darian Onaciu.
52 reviews13 followers
August 14, 2017
Every now and then I'm struggling with who I am, reevaluating my beliefs and thought processes.

While I often take a long time to make sure I have the right perspective, I also try to keep it as scientific as possible.

This book is a short guide which will help you to 'think like a freak'.
More accurately it will help you with a brief map, a scaffold on which you can build your thought processes.
How people usually think, what to pay attention to when forming an opinion and how to use incentives to make the most of your arguments are just some of the handy information you can find in the book.

The writing is crisp and delivery is done via stories, both funny and compelling, so you can better recall the details and use them in your everyday life.

I wholeheartedly recommend the series, starting with Freakonomics, onward with SuperFreaknomics and then Think Like a Freak.
There is a special story which connects the last two books and reveals just how awesome the two authors are in applying what they preach: thinking like freaks.

You won't regret reading them!
Profile Image for Greyson Daviau.
16 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2022
I read this book for one of my classes and participated in socratic seminar styled discussion. This book was a great way for me to learn how to critically read a text and discuss it.

The reason I rated this book as 2/5 is because the authors tend to contradict themselves very often throughout the text and make bold statements that aren’t justifiable by their further text just to draw the attention of the reader. I understand the points they are trying to get across about thinking differently than what is natural, but I believe there are more effective strategies and principles to apply than those presented in this book.
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