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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting questions interestingly answered
I ignored this book when it was first published, but turned to the revised version recently in the hope that it would give me some insight into mainstream economics, (having recently started a course in business economics). It hasn't been a great help for that purpose, but is a great - and easy - read all the same. I found it particularly illuminating to see how an...
Published on 30 Dec. 2007 by Nicholas J. R. Dougan

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Was a present. came on time. have heard no adverse reports
Published 8 months ago by christine Taylor-Blackburn


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting questions interestingly answered, 30 Dec. 2007
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Penguin Celebrations) (Paperback)
I ignored this book when it was first published, but turned to the revised version recently in the hope that it would give me some insight into mainstream economics, (having recently started a course in business economics). It hasn't been a great help for that purpose, but is a great - and easy - read all the same. I found it particularly illuminating to see how an economist looks beyond correlations to seek causation. For example, in what is probably his most controversial chapter, Levitt identifies the effective legalisation of abortion in the US in 1973 as being the cause of a fall in the crime rate 15 - 20 years later. Having established this correlation, and posited an explanation - access to abortion meant that a whole cohort of kids that would have been most likely to grow up to become criminals were not in fact born at all - he searches for ways to test it. He did so by looking at those states where abortion had already been legal, by establishing correlations between abortion rates and the subsequent fall in crime rates and by identifying that the fall in crime happened amongst the late teens rather than older age groups.

Levitt and Dubner were clearly aware of the potential distaste that this deduction might bring, but presented their findings clearly and courageously. Other areas of study include the identification of cheating teachers and Sumo wrestlers, the economics of dealing in crack cocaine and whether (pushy) parents can actively influence the success of their children. In many cases, however, and particularly while reading a chapter on parents' choice of names for their children, I did wonder whether the same conclusions would be made on the British side of the Atlantic.

The revised (2006) edition includes some material not included in the first edition, including forty pages of material from the Freakanomics blog, as well as clarifications and revisions.

As to whether this is a truly a radical use of the science of economics, however, I know not - it may well be that other have analysed data of this type in similar ways in the past. Nonetheless, Levitt and Dubner ask - and answer - some interesting questions, and if economics is not routinely used in this way perhaps it should be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cover says it all - a great book!, 30 Oct. 2007
By 
John Williamson (NYC & Bucks County, PA) - See all my reviews
First must state that this reviewer is not an economist, and usually find such books can often be boring. Must admit that this book kept me up far too late one recent weekend reading it through to the end. It was hard to put down.

Another reader/reviewer emailed me, noting that Malcolm Gladwell had said that Steven Levitt "has the most interesting mind in America," and since I had found Gladwell's "Blink!" hard to put down, I might find "Freakonomics" interesting. This was an understatement.

Then another friend loaned me a copy of the book, so I felt obligated to read it. Now I'll have to get my own copy, for it's worth a second read.

As noted above, the cover says it all. "Freakonomics" is not only humorous in places, it's fascinating, an out of the ordinary way of looking at economics for those who normally don't venture into what is often perceived as a boring subject. Like Gladwell's writing, this reviewer found this book to be a springboard to other ideas.

The authors define economics as "the study of incentives" early in the first chapter, which is not exactly as I remember the conventional definition from college courses. But maybe analyzing how to motivate people to do or not do a particular things is a better way or looking at the reality of economics.

"Freakonomics" was co-written by the noted journalist Stephen Dubner ("Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper"), and seems to have drawn as much criticism as it has received praise from reviewers and other commentators. The authors repeatedly state that there's no consistent theme. Others have noted that it appears to be an assembly of magazine articles and columns, edited and put together in an appealing but not particularly interrelated manner.

But this reader found that it does have a theme, and that theme is that established conventional wisdom is not always right. Things that we perceive to be related just might not be. Maybe there's no connection at all, and maybe some are simply coincidence.

Liberals and conservatives in our society will find some of Levitt's thoughts to be controversial. This reader found much of the book to fly in the face of "conventional wisdom," and found that this is what made it so fascinating. For example, don't miss Levitt's discussion regarding abortion, for whether or not you agree with his viewpoint, it is thought provoking.

There are many other thought-provoking concepts that this reader found fascinating, such as the authors' thoughts on how education and actual knowledge in our public school systems has been replaced by standardized testing preparation. This then leads to the encouragement of cheating just to get the statistics where those in charge of the systems need them to be. To comment further on this would be akin to plot spoiling. But don't miss Levitt's comments on the bizarre trends of naming babies, which this reviewer found to be hilarious in their absurdity.

Some have commented that this book is more of a basic text on sociology more than economics, but this reader found that it's all connected, and makes one want to look further. Levitt is a writer to watch, and he does let the numbers talk for him in an interesting if often offbeat fashion.

Criticisms? Initially had been happy to find this book to be comfortable 256 pages, but after finishing it, wished there had been more. It's definitely not boring, and that can't be said about many works related to economics. Might even be a good gift for someone, as almost anyone can read it and frequently have a good laugh.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Freakonomics" and heartily recommend it: 5 stars without a doubt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laughing Points., 31 July 2007
By 
maya j (Quail Crossing) - See all my reviews
'Freakonomics' is a witty, irreverent book for individuals who have never been and will never be Economics theorists. It's at once hilarious and serious about applying principles of Economics to real life scenarios, and it's just so much fun to read!

Let's start by saying, don't let the title scare you. I know most people pretty much despise anything to do with Economics, and anyone with a "respectable" connection to Economics would turn a nose up at this book. But with chapters like: The Ku Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents; Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers; and Drug Dealers Living with Their Moms- I mean how awful can it be? Steven D. Levitt teaches Economics at the University of Chicago, so he is absolutely qualified to make the relational comparisons he makes, thus actually giving we Economics neophytes something to chew on. In other words, if my Economics classes in college were like this, I might have actually learned something! But seriously, 'Freaknomics' delves into how things actually are all intertwined, no matter how absurd. It's premise is that conventionally held beliefs may not always be what they seem, and many things that seem wholly apart from each other are inter-related. Other than just laughing and enjoying the witty banter of the authors, I feel like I truly learned some things, and it gave me food for thought on other issues. The chapter entitled "A Roshanda by Any Other Name" was just pitch perfect, and the chapter on parenting makes you realize that we really don't need all those parenting books after all.

'Freakonomics' is deftly written for novices and easy to read, with each chapter being basically a lesson unto itself. It's not a full-tilt Economics lesson; it's little vignettes that show us how Economics is incorporated into our everyday lives and the impact therein. You can put the book down and pick it up a month later, and there's nothing to hold you back from enjoying the next chapter. Whether you love fiction, non-fiction or poetry, you'll love this book. It is a delightful, interesting, and well thought out read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anti-conventional wisdom, 18 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Penguin Celebrations) (Paperback)
This is not only about economics, it is about common aspects of life, like crime and cheating. The book contains several examples of how a brilliant researcher was able to shed light on these issues. The author acts like a detective, with a bottom-up approach, relying on statistical data analysis, and often based on the role of incentives in human behaviour. The abortion case stands aside and is, in my view, revelatory. Although apparently based on a syllogism, the conclusion put forward by Levitt, regarding abortion and crime rates, is nevertheless very convincing. Other cases, like the names assigned to child by parents, are not extraordinarely fascinating, but the pattern is the same: find the explaining thread in human behaviour. A good book for students in economics and social sciences in general, a intruigueing reading for all. At the same time, there are many other good micro-economists and statisticians out there who have written papers or books using a similar approach, but who are not so notorious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one that stays, 28 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Penguin Celebrations) (Paperback)
It's been copied several times since but has fascinating case studies and causes reassessment of statistical data thrown at us. Great start for a non-statistician (me)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun discussion for non-experts, 8 Mar. 2008
By 
Andy Phillips (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
Most of the contents of the book have been discussed in other reviews, so I won't repeat it. I got this book as a present and it isn't the sort of thing I would usually read, but I'm really glad I did. It's a fun description of a number of studies that use tools from economics to examine real-world problems. There is little technical content but there is enough explanation to make a non-economist understand the basic idea behind the work. The conclusions are even more interesting and I would definitely recommend that you read them for yourself. My one criticism is that one particular study keeps resurfacing throughout the book and it gets a bit tiresome after it has been explained two or three times, but it is a major study for which one of the authors is famous, so I can forgive that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, 17 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Freakonomics (Perfect Paperback)
Makes you think about different perspectives or ways in our society. Even though their studies are mainly USA data-based, it gives you a broad idea on how our human world carry on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Econimically enlightening, 10 Oct. 2007
I am an economics student and theis book really helped me to get a good insight into economics. I loved the approch from a different angle to solve the scenarios in the book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 19 July 2014
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This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Penguin Celebrations) (Paperback)
Was a present. came on time. have heard no adverse reports
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Bible., 31 Mar. 2008
By 
S. Forde (London....the one in England stupid) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Penguin Celebrations) (Paperback)
"What is hidden shall be revealed".
Thats a phrase from the Bible I think, but as I haven't read it I'm not sure.
It sounds Biblical though.
Thats the angle of this book. To show some of the basics of Economic thought through finding connections where you might not of thought of looking.To show up received wisdom for what it is. Not very wise. Its not the last word on the subject but a good start.
Unlike the Bible, which just tells you that the love of money is the root of all evil.
Thanks Sherlock!.
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