Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. And understanding them or ferreting them out is the key to solving just about any riddle. It isn't just the boldface names inside-trading CEOs and pill-popping ballplayers and perk-abusing politicians¾who cheat. It is the waitress who pockets her tips instead of pooling them. It is the Wal-Mart payroll manager who goes into the computer and shaves his employees' hours to make his own performance look better. It is the third grader who, worried about not making it to the fourth grade, copies test answers from the kid sitting next to him. The most volatile current debate among school administrators, teachers, parents, and students concerns “high-stakes” testing. The stakes are considered high because instead of simply testing the students to measure their progress, schools are increasingly held accountable for the results.
"Levitt and Dubner’s Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything offers some fascinating statistics. The real message, however, is not in the details, but in the overarching picture: the tools of economics (and, in our minds, data science) can be used to identify unexpected patterns in real-world occurrences, but scientists are still needed to interpret these results." Berkeley
"Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything is the result of a partnership between a journalist, Stephen J. Dubner, and a University of Chicago economist, Steven D. Levitt. The two explain that the premise of Freakonomics sprung from an assignment Dubner received from New York Times Magazine to write a profile of Levitt. While interviewing Levitt, Dubner found that unlike other economists whom he had interviewed, he actually understood Levitt’s quirky yet effective way of explaining statistics. The two developed mutual respect, which resulted in their writing the best-selling book." enotes
"In Freakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner seek to expand the minds of readers with the idea that economics can be found in the most obscure situations. Levitt initially states that there is no “unifying theme” to the book, but there is: The introduction establishes the underlying idea that conventional wisdom is often full of misunderstandings, since one does not look into the motivations behind a situation to find the truth." Teen Ink Teen Ink
"Freakonomics is about unconventional wisdom, using the raw data of economics in imaginative ways to ask clever and diverting questions. Levitt even redefines his definition. If, as he says, economics is essentially about incentives and how people realise them, then economics is a prospecting tool, not a laboratory microscope." The Guardian
"Freakonomics, written with the help of the journalist Stephen J. Dubner, is an odd book. For one thing, it proudly boasts that it has no unifying theme. For another, each chapter begins with a quotation from the under-author (Dubner) telling us how great the over-author (Levitt) is: a "master of the simple, clever solution," a "noetic butterfly" (!), "genial, low-key and unflappable," etc. Yet a little self-indulgence can be tolerated in a book as instructive and entertaining as this one." The New York Times
"WHAT a shame about that title. “Freakonomics” is bound to dampen the spirits of any intelligent reader, suggesting an airport-ready, dumbed-down romp—the back cover would inevitably call it a romp—through the bogus theories of some semi-literate phoney economist. But that is not this book at all. Steven Levitt is no “rogue economist”, still less a phoney one; and his book, praise be, does not try to explore “the hidden side of everything”. Far more intelligent, modest and orthodox than it pretends, the book is a delight; it educates, surprises and amuses. It shows, in fact, what plain old-fashioned economics can do in the hands of a boundlessly curious and superbly skilled practitioner." The Economist
The idea of collaboration has always been used within the framework of board rooms, conferences, video conferencing and the likes. Yet now, the traditional scope of collaboration is moving into mass collaboration, in where millions and millions of individuals are able to play a role in the economy like never before.
There might be an economist sitting near you right now. You might not spot him¾a normal person looking at an economist would not notice anything remarkable. But normal people look remarkable in the eyes of economists. What is the economist seeing? What could they tell you, if you cared to ask?
In 2007, when the world was staring into the teeth of the biggest economic catastrophe in three generations, very few economists had any idea there was any trouble lurking on the horizon. Three years into the mess, economists now offer remedies that strike most people as frankly ridiculous. We are told
2008 and 2009 will be remembered for bear markets, a global credit crunch and some of the largest investment scams ever. But these scams are nothing new; from Charles Ponzi to Bernard Madoff to Sir R. Allen Stanford, they've been repeated throughout history, and there will certainly be more to come
We look back at the time when the world began a historic transition from industrial capitalism to a new kind of economy based on new principles and new ways of thinking and behaving. And while there are certainly many similarities between what is happening today and what happened over five hundred
The global financial crisis that shook virtually every country, government, and household in the world in 2008-09 gave way to a frustrating “new normal” of low growth, rising inequality, political dysfunction, and, in some cases, social tensions, so much so that the path of the global economy is likely to end
To catch a cheater, it helps to think like one. If you were willing to erase your students’ wrong answers and fill in correct ones, you probably wouldn’t want to change too many wrong answers.
A big part of a real-estate agent's job, it would seem, is to persuade the homeowner to sell for less than they e would like while at the same time letting potential buyers know that a house can be bought for less than its listing price.
The study of real-estate agents cited earlier also includes data that reveals how agents convey information through the for-sale ads they write. A phrase like "well maintained," for instance, is as full of meaning to an agent.
An analysis of the language used in real-estate ads shows that certain words are powerfully correlated with the final sale price of a house.
"Fantastic," meanwhile, is a dangerously ambiguous adjective, as is "charming." Both these words seem to be real-estate agent code for a house that doesn't have many specific attributes worth describing.
The decline in crime that began in the early 1990s was accompanied by a blistering national economy and a significant drop in unemployment.
A 1977 academic study called “On Behalf of a Moratorium on prison construction” noted that crime rates tend to be high when imprisonment rates are high, and concluded that crime would fall if imprisonment rates could only be lowered.
The conventional wisdom is often wrong. For drinking eight glasses of water a day has never actually been shown to do a thing for your health.
Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world much less so. If you learn how to look at data in the right way, you can explain riddles that otherwise might have seemed impossible.
Solving problems is hard. If a given problem still exists, you can bet that a lot of people have already come along and failed to solve it. Easy problems evaporate; it is the hard ones that linger. Furthermore, it takes a lot of time to track down, organize, and analyze the