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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

(Freakonomics)

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  643,927 ratings  ·  15,440 reviews
Which is moe dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?
What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
Why do drug dealers still live with their mums?
How much do parents really matter?


These may not sound like a typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of
...more
Paperback, First HarperTorch international paperback printing, 242 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by HarperTorch (first published April 12th 2005)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  643,927 ratings  ·  15,440 reviews


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Jim
Feb 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: candy, economics
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
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Bobscopatz
Jul 16, 2007 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
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Rachel
Jul 09, 2007 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
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Manny
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 ...more
Andrew Muckle
Apr 01, 2011 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
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Lola
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lola by: Sumit RK
Interesting enough, but the exponential amount of data made it hard to remember what the initial claims of the economist were instead of reinforcing them, strangely! I did, however, learn from this book. It still amazes me that the way to reduce crime seems to be the legalization of abortion. I did not expect that, but it does make quite a lot of sense and I’m all for women having control over their own bodies and futures, of course.

Sidenote: I despised the author’s arbitrary uses of female and
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Cbzlqxw
Sep 08, 2014 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 ...more
Justin
Jul 09, 2007 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 ...more
Cwn_annwn_13
May 07, 2010 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
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Jennifer
May 05, 2012 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.
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Extremely enlightening! Worthy of 15 stars out of 5! This is a book about the world and not about any science in particular. It's about learning to question the given and see beyond the obvious. An extremely useful gift in the misguiding modern world.

Yeah, populistic much too much but neverthless compulsively readable. A definite revisit and reread.

Q:
As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions. His particular
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Joe S
Dec 28, 2007 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
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Natalie (CuriousReader)
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 ...more
Niadwynwen Koch
Mar 31, 2015 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.
Alena
Mar 17, 2015 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.
J.L.   Sutton
I enjoyed Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything; however, I’m not yet sure if it is simply entertaining or is in any way instructive. Levitt and Dubner explore a diverse range of subjects: from linking Roe v. Wade to violent crime, cheating by teachers and sumo wrestlers to an economic model of drug dealing.

I’d like to think that the stories told by the authors and the way they analyze conventional thinking would put me on a
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Michael
Jul 20, 2015 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
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Red
Jun 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is little more than Stephen Dubner jerking off Steven Levitt, but that's not why it's a 1-star read. here's why:

"Women's rights advocates... have hyped the incidence of sexual assault, claiming that one in three American women will in her lifetime be a victim of rape or attempted rape. (The actual figure is more like one in eight-but the advocates know it would take a callous person to dispute their claim.)"

In the Notes for this chapter:

"The 2002 statistics from the National Crime
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Patrick
Jun 02, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-waste-basket
I went all Fahrenheit 451 on this one.
Lyn
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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)
Jake
Jul 09, 2008 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
...more
Sam
Mar 02, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sheer Rubbish. This is an awful book, yes I read the whole thing, like bitter medicine to a toddler, and had to see what the fuss was about.

This Amazon review nails it. Here's my review/rant.

I'm reading this is 2012, maybe the hype in 2005 was different and people ate this kind of stuff up, even then I don't think we were that gullible at this time. There were good social science/stats books out there. This book pales in comparison to the works of Malcolm Gladwell and others.

Levitt is making
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Cate
Jun 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In addition to allowing 1/2 stars, Goodreads really needs an "abandoned book" shelf.

I had to abandon ship on this one, I guess I'm too liberal/free thinking/whateveryoucallit to think that teacher's unions are bad, and if only poor black women could get abortions we'd be safer after dark.

I didn't stick around for the rest.
Emily May
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, nonfiction
I won't deny that this is a very interesting, compelling and thought-provoking book. Even for someone like me whose general response to economics is *snore*. And it's mainly because Freakonomics is not really about economics, but involves applying statistical analysis to many social issues and questions.

Very easy to read. Lots of shocking discoveries that seem weighted in fact - Roe v. Wade is responsible for a huge drop in crime? No wonder some people are pissed off with this book. It's really
...more
Peter Harrington
Feb 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book less then one star I would. I tried so very hard to finish reading this book full of BS facts but eventually got so tired of hearing things that just are not true but the author "claims" to be fact, that I quit reading it. I almost finished but couldn't do it in the end. Some of the things the author talks about seem like they could be truths but the majority of it is not. Don't waste your time.

Update: I don't recall the specifics as this was over a year ago that I
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Erin Stephens
Jul 21, 2015 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.
Sean Gunning
Jan 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
complete bollocks, un-referenced 'studies' being used to back up their meandering and un thought out claims. should've been able to tell by the cover what type of 'book' this was.
Cherie
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
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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 ...more

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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.” 201 likes
“The conventional wisdom is often wrong.” 94 likes
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