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Think Like a Freak Paperback – 13 May 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; Airside edition edition (13 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846147891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846147890
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 759,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

This book will change your life. (Daily Express)

Good ideas... expressed with panache. (Financial Times)

Compelling and fun. (New York Post)

Over nine entertaining chapters [Levitt and Dubner] demonstrate how not to fall into hackneyed approaches to solving problems and concretely illustrate how to reframe questions. (New York Daily News) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, was awarded the John Bates Clark medal, given to the most influential American economist under the age of forty. He is also a founder of The Greatest Good, which applies Freakonomics-style thinking to business and philanthropy.

Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He quit his first career-as an almost-rock-star-to become a writer. He has worked for The New York Times and published three non-Freakonomics books. He lives with his family in New York City.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas J. R. Dougan TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn’t get around to reading Freakonomics until 2007, but loved it, and immediately read Superfreakonomics, which while also good was less remarkable. It did draw me to the blog, and latterly the podcast which I download and listen to each week. When Dubner and Leavitt (D&L) announced their third book, I was happy to pre-order. (Pretty annoying that we Brits had to wait a whole extra day to get it – in the US it was released at just after midnight on Monday 12 May, it didn’t become available in Britain until the 13th!) That having been said, it downloaded onto my Kindle this morning and I’ve read it cover to cover.

“The plural of anecdote is not data”, the authors remind us, and I suppose that the one criticism I would level at this book is that quite a lot of the characteristics of “Freak” thinkers are based on singular or occasional observations by the authors and their many collaborators/cited sources. While the earlier books focussed mainly on Professor Leavitt’s research into criminal and other rule breaking activities and referenced what were clearly large data sets, that seems to be less the case here. This is a book that is based as much on psychology as it is on economics and statistics, although there is a light sprinkling of economic concepts - sunk costs, opportunity costs, incentives to name just a few.

This book is a manual of sorts to help thinking about the way that the authors do. There is a slight feel of a self-help book, but with such laid back authors, there’s no feeling of being presented with an insurmountable challenge – the first bit of advice to help you “Think like a Freak” is to admit you don’t know, and the last is to quit if you want to – it might make you happier.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JonnyD75 on 9 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very quick read. While better than the flawed Superfreakonomics it is very different from the original book. Fewer examples and interesting pieces, more a companion to the first book and covering much the same ground as their podcast.

If you pick this up cheap it's worth the hour or two it'll take you to read, but if you've not read Freakonomics that is the book to go for.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike N on 1 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've read the other 2 freakanomics books, and though this one is just as entertaining I'm not sure it says anything about how to think that you wouldn't pick up from the first and/or second book(s).

It's a very similar format - give us a story about somebody that looked at the world in a slightly different way to solve a long standing problem that others had tried and failed with (or perhaps not even thought about thinking about). This book makes a point of saying "look what they did there", but otherwise it's the same.

That being said, it's still an entertaining and enlightening read, and well worth the short amount of time it takes to get through. If you haven't read the other books though I'd suggest starting with them. They're perhaps a bit more substantial than this one.
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Format: Hardcover
In their latest book, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner cite several examples of people who trick guilty parties (i.e. those who prey upon people who are ignorant and/or gullible) into unwittingly revealing their guilt through their own behavior. Here are three examples:

o Two women appealed to King Solomon, both claiming to be the mother of a newborn. Unable to decide, he ordered the child to be cut in half and divided equally. One woman embraced the idea. He knew immediately that the other woman who begged him to let the other have the child was in fact its mother.

o Rock star David Lee Roth of the Van Halen group has a 53-page list of technical and security requirements. One in the Munchies section specifies "M&Ms (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)." Immediately upon arrival, he checks the jar. "If he saw brown ones, he knew the promoter hadn't read the rider [to the otherwise standard contract) -- and that 'we had to do a serious line check to make sure that the most important details hadn't been botched either."

o So-called "Nigerian scammers" send millions of email messages each month to millions of people throughout the world. (It's called the "Nigerian scam" because more than half of the messages invoke Nigeria than all of the other emails combined.) I have received 3-5 each week in recent years. The "Beloved friend" message is always illiterate and ludicrous. Stupid, right? Not so fast. According to Levitt and Dubner, the Nigerian scammers know that almost everyone who receives a message will ignore it. But if only one in a hundred recipients provides the requested bank information....

"The ridiculous-sounding Nigerian emails seem to be quite good at getting the scammers' massive garden to weed itself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cameron Wright on 15 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
After reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman this book comes across as little more than a Sunday newspaper supplement. It takes little time to read and doesn't offer much that isn't covered in more detail elsewhere (including their own books). This is a vast subject area and this book does little to get involved. Thinking Like a Freak (disruptive thinking) really deserves more than the 210 pages of large font offered here. A fifth of the book is devoted to acknowledgements, but they really didn't use them much.
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