Customer Reviews


298 Reviews
5 star:
 (103)
4 star:
 (84)
3 star:
 (60)
2 star:
 (32)
1 star:
 (19)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the expanded edition
This book first arrived in a blizzard of publicity back in 2005. Now 4 years on, it has been re-released in a revised and expanded edition with an extra 90 pages of bonus material (be sure to order the 336-page edition) consisting of newspaper columns and blog entries, along with a few corrections and an overall restructuring (the previous introductory magazine excerpts...
Published on 5 Jan 2009 by Steve

versus
65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and fun, but ultimately light on content
This book does two important things - it challenges the reader to really think about the causes of things, and it makes modern economic thinking interesting and accessible to the mass audience. It's also a good, fun read, and for all these reasons it should be applauded.

In this book Steven Levitt develops ideas about a number of aspects of economic and social...
Published on 25 April 2007 by Andrew Johnston


‹ Previous | 1 2 330 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sobering lesson in cynicism, and yet..., 28 May 2008
By 
Point 1: this book is very American. Its language is very American and the topics it confronts are very American. Like the fascination with black people and inequality which makes up about 80 per cent of the content. Like the Ku Klux Klan. Bagel-selling. Bagels? And so the first chapters of this book are amazing. Five stars. Six, even. But then it seems to get bogged down with very American-centric issues that no doubt occupy American thinkers a lot but which don't apply elsewhere to anything like the extent they do over there. I'm not anti-American -- I love America! -- it's just that its culture isn't my culture and it never will be so I don't really care what they care about.

Point 2: about those honesty-box bagels. The authors do a really good job during the chapter explaining why (social) incentives control why people pay for bagels even though no one is checking up on them. But then right at the end of the chapter they seem to make a strange and out-of-place conclusion. Could any man resist the temptation of doing evil if he KNEW his acts could not be witnessed? Levitt and Dubner say (according to the bagel data) 87 per cent of the time the answer is yes. The key point that I take issue with is the word "knew" (which I highlighted). No bagel-consumers KNEW they wouldn't be caught. The authors completely ignore any psychology here regarding the way that people assess risk. The cautious person will assess the risk, however small, isn't worth the pay-off which is saving just one dollar. If we created a controlled experiment where there REALLY was no chance of being caught I suggest the revenue would be considerably smaller than 87 per cent.

There are other small points that I disagree with but overall I will say that this is a very interesting book, if a little repetitive. The bonus material -- newspaper columns, blog -- mostly goes over the same ground that was covered in the book proper. I would like to see a British version of this book that deals with current issues that gets us Brits talking. But still, I would highly recommend this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not going to change your life, but great dinner table banter, 23 Oct 2005
By 
Matt (Lewes, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I read this book in one sitting (couldn't put it down) and the insights have since supplied me with countless evenings of fun challenging friends and family on topics include "Why do drug dealers live at home?", "When dating, what do men and women REALLY look for in a partner?", "How safe is flying in comparison with other forms of transport?", "What explains the recent dramatic crime drop in the USA?", "What qualities make the best parents?" and "Does your name you are born with dictate your success and happiness in later life?".
Some of the answers are very surprising/shocking, and then after you think about it a bit you're left thinking "well actually that makes complete sense!". What makes this book appealing is the hard data behind the research and what makes this book refreshing are the off-the-wall questions it asks, not just the answers it provides.
Downsides are few but include US focus rather than UK (though there are many parallels), farcical brown-nosing between the co-authors which makes you feel a little nauseous at times and lack of connection between all the questions into one 'power' conclusion at the end (but then perhaps that is part of this book's charm too).
Well worth reading. It won't change your life, but it will certainly challenge you to question again and most importantly help you shine at dinner parties with random interesting questions that your friends just HAVE to know the answer to! Enjoy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


173 of 194 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The hidden side of the "Unexpected Publishing Phenomenon", 10 Aug 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Hmmm. A very *interesting* (in the sense of the Middle Eastern curse) kettle of fish.

I'm not sure what co-author Dubner's role is here - either to act as an alter ego for Levitt, allowing reproduction of fawning extracts from various newspaper articles written about Levitt throughout the book (as sole author Levitt wouldn't be able to get away with this without heaping hubris on his head), or perhaps to take the material he had from his original article and pad it out into a volume just fat enough (and no more) to justify publication as a hard-back, in which case Levitt had pretty much nothing to do with this book at all. I suspect a bit of both.

Most of the few points made in this book are, at best, only moderately interesting, and there are very few of them: Freakonomics doesn't even remotely live up to its billing, managing only to explore the hidden side of about five completely discrete, and only moderately interesting, topics (statistical evidence that there's cheating in Sumo Wrestling, anyone?) Indeed, the sumo cheating data wasn't especially compelling: it seems to me there is an entirely innocent explanation for wrestlers who have already "qualified" losing an abnormally large number of bouts to statistically weaker fighters who have not: a "qualified" wrestler simply has no incentive to try particularly hard, where as a non-qualifying wrestler does. That analysis doesn't involve any collusion at all.

Elsewhere, Levitt's theorems only really work where there are huge quantities of data covering all conceivable aspects of the topic at hand. Most of the time, this just isn't the case, which is why the hidden side of everything remains, even to Levitt and Dubner, hidden.

In the cases where the data are available - like Baseball - others have done a much more compelling job of writing the economist's expose. For example, try Michael Lewis' outstanding Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

Mean time, this one joins Lynne Truss's Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation as the latest in a long line of quick-buck publishing pan-flashes.

Perhaps the money I've wasted on this book can be put, through this review, to some good use: saving yours.

Olly Buxton
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Witty & Insightful, 5 Feb 2006
By 
J. Neal (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really enjoyed this book and have already recommended it to several friends.
Levitt tackles a number of diverse and interesting subjects. His writing makes complex issues easy to understand, and is often amusing.
I was fascinated at the way Levitt considers and uncovers what really motivates people.
As a new parent I found the couple of chapters on parenting good, but by far the most interesting insight was the primary reason for the decrease of crime in New York… if you're thinking it had something to do with Rudolph Guiliani then I suggest you get the book.
At worst the content can make for some interesting conversations in the Pub.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, 30 July 2006
By 
Ms. S. Takyar "sonia Takyar" (UK, midlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Being a student of economics at the time of reading this book, i found it to be extremely useful and thought provoking. It taught me to look at situations with a different perspective. The issues raised provided good talking points with my non economist friends and levitts study of cheating teachers in particular is one study used as a prime example of dysfunctional behaviour as a result of incentives.

Ecoonomist or not- this is one worth a read!!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but overhyped, 31 July 2005
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First, this book is well worth a read. The authors present some useful insights on a wide variety of social issues, but they don't try to push them too far - the book is demonstrating what can be done with a methodology, not trying to build a systematic theory-of-everything (or indeed, of anything). Given that, I think that it could have included a little more background on the analytical methods, but perhaps that would have put off parts of the target audience.
Secondly, I think it is possible for a book to suffer from too much praise and I think that this is a case in point. Yes, it's a good, thought provoking read which I would recommend to anyone. World changing (as some paper reviews I have seen would suggest) it is not, and if you buy it expecting that, you will be disappointed. Which would be a shame.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational, entertaining and informative., 16 April 2006
By 
An eclectic mix of 'studies'. I bought this on a whim and have thoroughly enjoyed it as a casual read - dipping into it over a couple of weeks, a chapter at a sitting. A level of cynicism is a prerequisite for enjoyment; 'lies, damn lies and statistics' should be a familiar phrase to anyone picking this up and should perhaps be applied to the author's own conlusions also - maybe not for the 'serious economist', but as 'pop-onomics' for the otherwise uninterested it's a page-turner.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If it was a car it would be a Renault, 27 July 2007
By 
S. Brand "simjUK" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The writers have the credentials to impart a lively and enlightening read as to the hidden meanings behind societal statistics that offer hitherto answers to cause, affect and the possible nature of power structures and conspiracy analysis that immediately apparent statistical phenomena do not correlate to. Do they deliver ........... for me nah. The areas looked at are interesting enough but annoyingly you are not left with a feeling of a directed view point that cohesively summises a theory of current economics based on life phenomena as opposed to traditional economic theory, which is what it the book for me alluded to. The cover and inference on the back was that they are mavericks in their field coming to radical and profound conclusions, which transpires, in my view, to be marketing hype. If you want a jovial read that looks at a few economic subject areas to muse over, go for it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, and entry into the genre, 19 Jan 2009
By 
Freakonomics is a fantastic book, readable, captivating and inspiring. It's not a book that can be filed away under any specific category, rather, it seems to have created a genre of popular unconventional social science. The authors take us on a journey which looks at the application of economic tools to societal issues. The conclusions are fascinating, and shed an interesting light on many of the conventional wisdoms that we so blindly accept. One of the most interesting points I found was that parenting is a lot more about who you are, than it is about what you do for, or with your kids. Experience seems to bear this out, in contrast to the vast majority of what's published on the topic.

The authors maintain a blog (search Freakonomics Blog in Google), which has a lot more on it (in fact there are some blog posts in the book). All in all, well worth a read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting easy read that fails to dig deeper, 7 Jun 2006
Freakonomics is a book about how we misconcieve the world and how these misconceptions can be exposed by statistical data. It is not a book about how and WHY we misconcieve the world which is rather what I hoped for.

The book comes across with some interesting and mind changing arguements about things such as Rudi Guiliani's zero tolerance policing and the lifestyles of drug dealers but I would have loved for the book to explore more than it did.

As it stands, freakonomics gives examples of certain misconceptions and provides statistical data to disprove these, with some explanation of why this may be so. There isn't any unifying thread or progressive arguements however as to why these misconceptions arise, which I personally would have liked to have seen. I would have loved a deeper exploration of why "conventional wisdom" is often not very wise but no such analysis is forthcoming.

One gets the feeling that this book has paid a bit more attention to marketing sound bites than to intellectual arguement, which results in the reader being dissapointed at the content, having had his hopes raised so high. You also get the sense of apology from the author when conventional wisdom is contradicted or when analysis comes up with a slightly unpalletable result, which irritates the reader.

On the plus side, it will give the average reader a bit to mull over and the reasonings and arguements are hard to argue with. I certainly don't take some things for granted as I used to.

Three stars purely because it is an entertaining if shallow look at the misconceptions of society.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 330 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Used & New from: 8.74
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews