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on November 23, 2010
This book is a general interest book- and it certainly is interesting. The book, for anyone looking for an entertaining read, will like it. In a nutshell, the book takes a look at all sorts of things in society, from crack gangs to parenting, and then attempts to make sense of them by applying econonmic principles. According to the book, economics is really the study of incentives, and so using this kind of angle, the book comes up with answers to why things work the way they do.

A book that's hard to put down, I'm sure many readers will enjoy it. Also recommend The Sixty-Second Motivator for a more simplistic explanation of what motivates people and gives them incentives to do what they do.
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on December 9, 2014
In Freakonomics, economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner "explore the hidden side of everything"—in a series of mostly unconnected chapters based primarily on Levitt's diverse body of work, the book covers, broadly, hidden incentives and their economic and social consequences. Examples include the link between legalized abortion and falling crime rates, the effect of a child's first name on future success, and the case of teachers—yes, teachers—cheating on high school standardized tests.

Much of the research is presented informally (this is a popular-level book, after all) which makes Freakonomics very easy to read. Given my vast inexperience in the field of economics, this is a welcome style; as I complain about popular-level physics books, however, I imagine Freakonomics suffers at the hands of graduate students across the social sciences for playing to such a wide audience. Speaking of wide audiences, I also found that nearly all the material in Freakonomics was covered by their early podcast episodes, which again are quite popular.

Overall, I give Freakonomics four stars. It's a good read for its particular examples, but anyone with even a basic versing in statistics will find many of the behind-the-scenes explanations (correlation != causation, who knew?) unsurprising.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 3, 2012
Like Margaret Mead seemed to explain everything through anthropology, Dubner and Levitt seem able to winnow out the real story behind whatever happens, mostly by the power of number crunching economics. At least they can if they get the right troves of data, like all the student test scores in Chicago, or all the kids names in California. The writing is excellent, and the discoveries are usually fascinating. But my favorite chapter concerns how Stetson Kennedy helped make the Klu Klux Klan look silly rather than fearsome, and this is "just" a fine piece of historical journalism. Also, some stories, like the examination of declining American crime rates, are discussed twice. The last section of the book is composed of reprinted articles about the same issues previously covered in the book. It seems a bit padded. Still, I expect this duo will tackle ever bigger questions, and eventually get the goods on corporate corruption, offshore tax havens, and even the global markets in arms, diamonds, and petro dollars.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 19, 2014
This book is very interesting and engaging, however it masquerades as authoritative and non-fictitious which is misleading. This is in fact narrative journalism with economic credibility stapled on. The reader is led to believe through non-detailed citations of studies that he is getting deep insights into the hidden side of everything. In some cases, this may indeed be the case. However we are not given enough information to really know if the authors understand or know as much as they pretend. Indeed, we would do well to take the authors' warnings about experts and apply it to the authors. Much of what they cite here has been challenged or refuted by later studies. So, knowledge is perhaps not as tantalizingly close at hand as we thought.
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on March 22, 2014
One of my favorite books. I found so many chapters fascinating, and it was my first exposure to economics in a way that I could understand. The chapter on names is particularly interesting (and hilarious!) I can't remember the number of times some of the stories from this book have come up at dinner or cocktail parties - from politics to drug dealers, there is something everyone can relate to.
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on March 26, 2016
I really enjoyed this book. It is written in a really approachable manner that allows the read to gather some of the insights from economics without the details that non academics would shy away from.

I particulary enjoyed the sections on sumo wrestling, real estate agents house sales figures, and sections on kids names.

There is certainly more controversial correlations drawn here, some of which have been highly cited and challenged. If you are pro-life and have very strong opinions about it, sections of this book are likely to get you riled up. The author makes no moral claims, but some of the conclusions he makes are certainly not going to be within your lineo of thinking.

That said, I would not let that keep you away from the rest of the book, it really is a fascinating read.
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As of this writing, there have been well over one thousand reviews of this book. I doubt very much that I can add anything new or significant that has not already been mentioned. So, I will simply state my own personal experience in reading it. I found the prose/writing style to be clear, very friendly, quite witty, authoritative, highly accessible and most captivating. The pages just flew by, making it a rather quick read (and I am a slow reader). I have also learned a few interesting and worthwhile facts that I intend to use to my advantage. I am certain that there is something here for one and all. As such, I do believe that this is a book that everyone can enjoy. (I have now started to read the sequel: Superfreakonomics)
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on December 3, 2014
Want to learn why the crime rate in America suddenly down with minimal government intervention? Why pro-choice turned out to also be anti-crime? Well then, this book is for you! This is just one of the topics discussed in Freakonomics and its follow-up Super Freakonomics. This is an excellent read for both casual readers and economists alike. The casuals will find an interesting collection of real-life stories while the economists among us may discover a brand new way of looking at the world and how data can be collected and analyzed by large corporations and institutions.

Final Thoughts: A great casual read to spend many an evening with!
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on December 29, 2013
Opened my eyes to another world out their, finaces and the simple connections economic has with their your daily life. Amazing book. Worth the read.
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on July 11, 2012
Was an interesting read. If you enjoy statistical analysis of stuff, you will enjoy it too. If not, then this book is not for you.
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