Freakonomics

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The non-fiction New York Times bestseller Freakonomics written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore the dark and bizarre side of economics. The book illustrates the uncanny twists and turns of how the world functions today, how two unlikely figures correlate, and how statistics prove all other popular beliefs wrong. Steven Levitt, who is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, confronted Dubner into writing a book about a different look on today's economy. Both authors explain in the introduction of the book that there is no underlying theme or plot that connects the writing together. It is, however, an extensive outlook into totally opposite worlds that somehow tie into each other's business and lives.

The title explains enough for itself. Its combination of the two words 'freak' and 'economics' both add a humorous and true short summary of what the book is about. Even the front image of an apple being sliced in half only to reveal that the inside is an orange further pushes the notion of how everything related to business has a darker side to it.

The writings of Levitt and his economic finds come to show that most of his unbelievable correlations come from excessive amounts of data and statistics. Each of his chapters depicts two real-life scenarios in today's society that seem completely irrelevant with each other. The title of the different chapters explains the subject of the matter in which he begins to pull data and rationalize the overall outcome of the situations. It is truly amazing how Levitt articulates his facts into such a simplistic and understandable matter using the common knowledge that everyday people hold and turning it upside-down revealing the lies and deceit that go behind it. Chapter one illustrates a good example of how students nowadays are not the only ones accused of cheating, but teachers are changing answers in order to stay on a payroll, so to say. And how did Levitt find such groundbreaking evidence? Levitt observed thoroughly the answer sheets for each student and found a section on a majority of the tests that had the exact same answers. Our education program is not as innocent as we used to think it was.

These unlikely comparisons continue on to show and point out that 'conventional wisdom' is incorrect the majority of the time. One of the many examples in this book is the analysis of the drop in crime rate in Chapter 4. In the 1990's, there was a sudden drop in crime rate that most experts could not pinpoint the cause of such a dramatic change. Levitt, however, believed that the legalization of abortion was the true reason for the decrease in the rate of crime. This theory shows that the underlying problem that comes with conventional wisdom, that everything you assume to understand in life is not how its true outcome is.

The book is actually a very short and easy read. This New York Bestseller makes understanding economics pleasing and entertaining. Freakonomics will open your eyes to the world as it truly is, how everything is connected some way or another, and how the finer things in life are not always as grand as you supposed it is.





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