Freakonomics

I picked up a copy of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the  Hidden Side of Everything last night before jumping on a plane.  I pretty much devoured it on my flight. While I don’t often write here about books (in fact this may be my first entry on the subject), if you liked Blink or The Tipping Point or are just curious about how the world works, I’d strongly suggest you check this one out. The basic idea of Freakonomics is to use statistical analysis to explore relationships and answer some pretty interestin  questions about our world (are swimming pools more dangerous than guns; why do drug dealers live with their mothers; how can we tell if sumo wrestlers cheat; etc).  I eat this stuff up (for me its in part the mix of my two college majors – economics and psychology).  And, while you may not find every topic explored in the book riveting, I think the broader premise is an important one – by thinking about problems a little differently one can come up with interesting ways of testing theories that would otherwise seem untestable.  Perhaps by turning problems slightly askew you can gain a perspective into something that you didn’t think was possible.

  • Freakonomics & Correlation/Causation

    After the extended media blitz in the past few weeks, along with the recommendations from fellow bloggers like Seth Levine, I decided to pick up a copy of Levitt & Dubner’s “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of…

  • I picked up Freakonomics on your recommendation, Seth.
    I agree it is well worth the read. It reminds me of another great book from about ten years ago called “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/038548254X/qid=1119030747/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_ur_1/104-3038826-5719133?v=glance&s=books&n=507846).
    I always say that statistics the most important subject anyone can ever learn- this book shows why. Kills a lot of “common knowledge” misconceptions.
    The piece that Levitt and Dubner get that Gladwell does not (in either book) is that CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. A neuroscience mentor once drilled that in to my head and I believe it is cause for a lot of muddled thinking. I was surprised to see the Gladwell props for FREAKONOMICS when it pretty much debunks the “clean subways was the major factor in reducing crime” hypothesis of Gladwell’s.
    For new reading on how brain science is changing our world, I recommend Dan Pink’s “A WHOLE NEW MIND” and Jeff Hawkins’ “ON Intelligence” light years ahead of Gladwell’s “BLINK”.
    We are entering a time when we won’t long have to think so much about computing, and of course, we expect Movai will lead the way.

  • Ananth

    Hi,
    This is my first visit to this blog. Very interesting – I went through all the months!
    Is there a particular reason you don’t write about the books you read here (“While I don’t often write here about books (in fact this may be my first entry on the subject)” – you were writing about Freakonomics! I sometimes base my “books to read” choice from blogs I read(especially if I think I connect with blog content). It would be great if you could put up a book list with a 1-2 line review. I just finished reading “The Monk and the Riddle” by Randy Komisar – goood reading.
    Ananth