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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Audio CD

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060776137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060776138
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 14.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,886,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Anyone living in the United States in the early 1990s and paying even a whisper of attention to the nightly news or a daily paper could be forgiven for having been scared out of his skin. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. J. Myers on 15 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
As an economist myself, I'm aware of the notorious inability of 'dismal scientists' to produce text of interest to the average (or even above average!) reader. Levitt, however, (with considerable help from Dubner) manages to do just that.
Winner of the John Bates Clark Medal (awarded biennially to the top US economist under 40), Levitt is no lightweight. His thinking, however, is refreshingly different from most mainstream economists. Simply put, Levitt asks questions, and uses his craft to answer them. Some of the questions are less seemingly 'relevant' (Is there cheating in professional sumo wrestling?) than others (What was the real cause of the drop in crime during the 1990's?), yet all are interesting.
Levitt's topics run the gamut, from racism on 'The Weakest Link' to parallels between the KKK and real estate agents to the reason why drug dealers tend to live with their mothers, and he attacks all of his questions with ingenuity and tremendous skill.
If you'd enjoy a light but engaging read on a wide variety of topics, this one might fit the bill. There's something for everyone here.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ask most people if they want to understand statistics . . . and they run in the opposite direction. That's too bad because these days anyone who can run a personal computer can perform sophisticated statistical analysis using relatively affordable software like SPSS. Freakonomics may open a few minds by showing that much of what the conventional wisdom is . . . is wrong.
Economics has been traditionally focused on writing equations to explain "how things should work" assuming that nothing else changes. That's the rub. Everything else does change . . . and the theories don't work in practice. You've all heard the resulting economist jokes.
Steven Levitt does something that academics don't like anyone to do: He looks for interesting, practical questions and devises simple, straightforward solutions.
His method is usually pretty simple. He looks for patterns by using regression programs and then thinks about what the regressions might mean. That often leads to a trip to some other data, and eventually the correct cause-and-effect pattern emerges. It's like the invention methods of champion tinkerer Thomas A. Edison. Keep trying until something practical works. Fortunately, with today's computers you don't have to wait very long. The biggest challenges are in finding the right data sets, as this book shows through its example of why drug dealers usually live with their mothers.
The book indicts the media and many so-called experts who simply haven't done their homework. As a result, you can spend a lot of time being misinformed by reading the latest Congressional testimony, the latest think-tank study or by watching a talking head debate on television. The lesson: Be skeptical unless you see the data and the analyses, as they are displayed in this book's few examples.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tristan Martin VINE VOICE on 22 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
The economist John Kay defines economics as the study of allocation of resources betwixt competing demands; Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, in his youthful essay on the theory of intergalactic trade, described his essay as a serious work on a ridiculous subject, the very opposite of most economics papers. With Freakonomics, authors Kevitt and Dubner define it as the study of incentives and using this starting position, visit the strange, further shores of economics.

What the book is essentially about is applying unsentimental and hopefully objective methodology to facets of life that are not usually given to such study: the incentives at work when real estate agents sell their own houses as compared to selling other people's, how an urban crack gang is structured along corporate American principles (fans of television series The Wire should be particularly interested in that chapter), how much influence parents really have over young children's development. Some of this seems like it has the potential to be quite important, some of it seems pretty trivial (particularly the section on white / black / poor / rich children's names) but most of it is engaging, written as it is in a conversational style, though with a great respect for raw data.

Put the hyperbole of the glowing reviews ("Prepare to be dazzled" etc) to one side and authors Steven Levitt (economics lecturer at the University of Chicago) and Stephen Dubner (former New York Times Magazine editor) can fairly be said to have produced the most askew glance at the potential of a traditionally dry subject yet written. This is not an introduction to economics but an introduction to the possibilities of economics.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Redfern on 9 May 2008
Format: Paperback
According to the authors of this book, Freakonomics is the ability to ask sensible questions about the world and deal with uncomfortable answers. At all times, one most not take any moral stand and simply judge the figures, the conclusion, with impartial eyes. It's philosophy disguised as economics, with a heavy reliance on figures and data to back up the questioning.

Freakonomics is really one theory - that abortion legalization in the U.S. in the 70s caused a drop in crime in the 90s - propped up with other less controversial theories in order to create a tome long enough to be printed and sold. It's still a fairly slim book, a quick read that reflects the lack of support to the ideas inside. That's not to say that the ideas are bad; but there's a lack of meat to the bones, a palpable sense that conclusions were drawn hastily in some instances in order to fit the authors' views. Also, eventhough the book presumes to explore the hidden side of everthing, it's mainly a compilation of questions put forward by white middle-class Americans, curious about abortion, black & white poverty, and the failure of the American education system in some states. Anyone living outside America might find it hard to care, unless they have a passing interest in America (mafioso Sumo wrestlers not withstanding).

Freakonomics is not very useful when investigating the future. There are no predictions in this book about the approaching collapse of the world's financial system, the looming Great Depression that will smack America (and everyone else) in the face. I would have been more impressed if they had tackled this subject.
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