Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.)

68%

38 Critic Reviews

Just be aware that much of what you are reading is not driven by the data, but rather by an effort to be dazzling.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime?These may not sound like typical questions for an econo-mist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head. Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of . . . well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Klu Klux Klan. What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a great deal of complexity and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and—if the right questions are asked—is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.Bonus material added to the revised and expanded 2006 edition.The original New York Times Magazine article about Steven D. Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, which led to the creation of this book.Seven “Freakonomics” columns written for the New York Times Magazine, published between August 2005 and April 2006.
 

About Steven D. Levitt

See more books from this Author
Steven D. Levitt is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the most influential economist under the age of forty.
 
Published February 17, 2010 by William Morrow. 340 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, Self Help, Professional & Technical, Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon9
Peak Rank on May 04 2014
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Freakonomics
All: 38 | Positive: 27 | Negative: 11

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Jim Holt on May 15 2008

It might appear presumptuous of Steven Levitt to see himself as an all-purpose intellectual detective, fit to take on whatever puzzle of human behavior grabs his fancy. But on the evidence of ''Freakonomics,'' the presumption is earned.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Mar 31 2006

As to whether the book will change the way we look at the world, of course we can't be sure. But it will change it for a while: it'll stop you trusting too much to your prejudices, or the easy option of open-and-shut thinking. Such as: "Economics is boring."

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Guardian

Below average
on Aug 01 2008

What is the probability that a collection of often trivial and obvious data will be passed off as brilliance? Regrettably high.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Stephen Bayley on Jul 23 2008

Freakonomics is a brilliant, but annoying, book. It entertains and provokes...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Mar 31 2008

As to whether the book will change the way we look at the world, of course we can't be sure. But it will change it for a while: it'll stop you trusting too much to your prejudices, or the easy option of open-and-shut thinking.

Read Full Review of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economi... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Stephen Bayley on Jul 23 2005

...it's very interesting, but it's not what I call economics. Freakonomics is a brilliant, but annoying, book. It entertains and provokes...

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Mar 14 2008

Underlying all these research subjects is a belief that complex phenomena can be understood if we find the right perspective. Levitt has a knack for making that principle relevant to our daily lives...

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Blog Critics

Below average
Reviewed by D. Gordon Smith on May 19 2008

Just be aware that much of what you are reading is not driven by the data, but rather by an effort to be dazzling.

Read Full Review of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economi... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Tom Cooke on Dec 11 2009

If you're interested in checking out a completely unorthodox view on interesting things...then you must check out this book.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Robert Finn on Jan 22 2011

They clearly have done considerable research and Dubner performed well his job of translating raw data into readable prose.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Nathan Rabin on Apr 26 2008

...an addictive, irresistible crash course in the populist application of economics.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Mark Flanagan on Jan 12 2013

Freakonomics is a wide-ranging miscellany of number-crunched social commentary that just might cause you to see the world through slightly different glasses.

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About.com Bestsellers

Above average
Reviewed by Erin Collazo Miller on May 31 2014

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is an easy, interesting book, even for people who do not usually like nonfiction or economics.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Jessica on Jan 09 2008

Levitt and Dubner’s continued partnership uncovers entertaining tales of the many quirks of human behavior.

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New York Observer

Below average
Reviewed by Ann Marlowe on May 16 2008

... there are too many factors, in many cases, to be sure what the correct explanation for something is. And this is where cleverness must retire in favor of wisdom-which is not in great supply in Freakonomics.

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Commentary

Above average
Reviewed by James Q. Wilson on Jul 01 2005

While I am glad this book has exposed Levitt to a broad audience, I hope that anybody who is excited by it will go to his original studies and examine them carefully. Luckily, most of what he has written is quite accessible to the general reader.

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City Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Steven Malanga on Jul 11 2008

It’s one thing to challenge the conventional wisdom with your own fresh data. It’s quite another simply to ignore all the facts that don’t fit neatly into your new way of thinking.

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Mises Institute

Above average
Reviewed by Doug French on Jun 21 2008

It is Levitt's curiosity about the world...written about with the skill of best selling author Dubner, that makes this a collaboration that brings a new way of thinking to the average reader.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Brandon N. on May 31 2014

While Freakonomics may not be a conventional book, it receives an A+ overall. It's boldly written to express that conventional wisdom is inadequate and about everything or everybody is influenced by their own incentives.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by George D. on May 31 2014

The theme of the “hidden side” reoccurs in each riveting chapter and in a variety of circumstances as these two “rogue economists” dispel what many believe to be true.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Austin Y. on May 31 2014

...the book feels too short, and rather than a folly of the author's laziness, a quick look back shows how well and enticingly written Freakonomics is.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Anna H. on May 31 2014

Overall, Freakonomics is compelling and interesting, and will keep you guessing just why drug dealers live with their mothers. There is no time to become bored while reading this non-fiction novel.

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Teen Ink

Good
on Apr 26 2014

Freakonomics has given readers a different glance at the world we live in and in about 200 pages of reading, expresses its ideas quickly and concisely. Audiences will find a new twist and turn around every corner of this book and will find themselves entertained by this interesting novel.

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Helium

Good
Reviewed by Richard Smith on Jul 16 2008

The book is well written in my opinion with a good use of humour and...it does serve to get the reader thinking and to recognise that some things we assume to be true or accept at face value may in fact have no real foundation in reality.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Molly R., on May 31 2014

Freakonomics is written in a clear, concise fashion using casual language but also some challenging vocabulary, which is why this book can be enjoyed by high school students and adults alike.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Maureen M. on May 31 2014

The book indeed dazzles as well as confounds the reader with ideas that put ethics and logic into question and make you second guess the world you know. Freakonomics opens up new concepts that are thought-­provoking and hard to deny.

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Yahoo! Voices

Above average
Reviewed by Stephanie Keasling on Dec 24 2010

Freakonomics was one of those books that I figured on being absolutely boring...I not only enjoyed the book, but truly did learn some very interesting facts about the way the world works...

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Yahoo! Voices

Below average
Reviewed by Aaron Deutsch on Jun 10 2008

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner prove many things in Freakonomics, but not everything they state is proof. In conclusion, Freakologic has some serious logical issues, which detract from the rest of the book.

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EzineArticles

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Cohen on Apr 15 2007

Full of fascinating snippets of information...and unexpected links...the book is at all times interesting even if some the conclusions are a little too pat.

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Brothers Judd

Good
on Apr 14 2005

...the book remains enjoyable and the essay on how the cheating in sumo wrestling relates to cheating by teachers to improve their students' standardized test scores is worth the price of admission all by itself.

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Eagle

Above average
on Aug 24 2009

Freakonomics is an unusual way of introducing economic and statistical thinking, and I think it's valuable in the way it shows how structured approaches to questions and reliance on data can lead to unintuitive but apparently more accurate results.

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Medieval Bookworm

Below average
Reviewed by Meghan on Nov 02 2011

Freakonomics is worth the read if you have the opportunity, as it does alter slightly the way we embrace problems, but given how much of it has seeped into public awareness, it’s perhaps not as important to read now as it was six years ago.

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My Books. My Life.

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Dec 07 2012

This was an interesting book. It made me look at the world a little differently and made me feel a little smarter by the end. It’d been awhile since I’d read a good nonfiction book and this was just want I needed.

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Reviews of Books

Above average
Reviewed by W. R. Greer on May 31 2014

With Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner have given us a new way to look at our world. This is a short book, about 200 pages, and reads very quickly.

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January Magazine

Above average
Reviewed by Linda L. Richards on May 31 2014

Freakonomics is a delight. Sharply written and interestingly organized, the authors manage to cram in an amazing amount of stuff you probably would never have had cause to think of on your own. Will any of it change your life? Probably not. But that isn't really the point.

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Honey and Locusts

Above average
Reviewed by John Gardner on Jun 07 2011

Now that I’ve read it, though, I’m glad I did. For a book which — by the authors’ own admission — has no central theme, it remained remarkably coherent and interesting from cover to cover.

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http://www.lewrockwell.com

Above average
Reviewed by Doug French on Jun 21 2005

Freakonomics has been criticized for its controversial content, its lack of scholarly rigor, trivial subject matter and conclusions, and failure to expose the real economic damage done by government regulations and government granted monopolies. But, despite the flaws, I’m happy that a book of this subject matter is a bestseller.

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Reader Rating for Freakonomics
75%

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