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Freakonomics
A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side Of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics reviews
Critic Score
Metascore: 67 Metascore out of 100
User Score  
7.3 out of 10
based on 16 reviews
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based on 11 votes
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As the title implies, this is not your typical economics treatise, and Steven D. Levitt is not your typical economist. Instead, Levitt (with the help of co-author Stephen J. Dubner) uses basic economic concepts to explore various mysteries of everyday life in sometimes surprising ways. Recommended for fans of Malcolm Gladwell's work.

William Morrow, 256 pages
05/01/2005
$25.95

ISBN: 006073132X

Nonfiction
Social Sciences

What The Critics Said

All reviews are classified as one of five grades: Outstanding (4 points), Favorable (3), Mixed (2), Unfavorable (1) and Terrible (0). To calculate the Metascore, we divide total points achieved by the total points possible (i.e., 4 x the number of reviews), with the resulting percentage (multiplied by 100) being the Metascore. Learn more...

Publishers Weekly
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. [14 Mar 2005, p.53]
Wall Street Journal Steven E. Landsburg
Economists, ever wary of devaluing their currency, tend to be stinting in their praise. I therefore tried hard to find something in this book that I could complain about. But I give up. Criticizing "Freakonomics" would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae.
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The Observer Stephen Bayley
Levitt has a genius for wacky inquiry.
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The Economist
Far more intelligent, modest and orthodox than it pretends, the book is a delight; it educates, surprises and amuses.
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The Onion A.V. Club Nathan Rabin
An addictive, irresistible crash course in the populist application of economics.
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Entertainment Weekly Benjamin Svetkey
His conclusions are often eye-opening... and sometimes eye-popping... but in the end he never really adds it all up to a cohesive or compelling sum.
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Kirkus Reviews
An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world. [15 Mar 2005, p.337]
The New York Times Book Review Jim Holt
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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Los Angeles Times Michael Shermer
Levitt employs statistical tools that are simple yet elegant. He cuts to the heart of a question and picks topics that are fascinating. All social scientists should ask themselves if the problems they are working on are as interesting or important as those in this superb work. [15 May 2005]
New York Observer Ann Marlowe
It’s a sloppily organized group of essays on completely unrelated topics, but it’s entertaining despite its strenuous efforts to be so. [16 May 2005]
Chicago Tribune James O'Shea
"Freakonomics" is the book world's answer to kung pao chicken. You get the sizzle and spice of a tasty dish but not much in the way of real food. [26 Jun 2005]
Daily Telegraph Alexander Waugh
His book leaves far too many questions unanswered.
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The Spectator Philip Hensher
An amusing book... It’s best enjoyed, though, as a series of music-hall turns, tall tales and outrageous paradoxes rather than anything resembling an argument.
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The New Republic Cass R. Sunstein
Levitt stands out not because of any large claims about human motivations, but because of his remarkable ingenuity, creativity, and sheer doggedness in investigating empirical questions about which no one seems to know much at all. Unfortunately, some of his findings are not terribly exciting.
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TLS: The Times Literary Supplement Paul Seabright
At its best, it has the pace and the mock hard-boiled charm of a collection of Hammett or Chandler detective stories.
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Washington Post Gregg Easterbrook
It is an engaging and always interesting work, rich in insights, full of surprises. Readers, though, may find themselves in a perpetual state of confusion regarding just what it is they are reading.
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What Our Users Said

Vote Now!The average user rating for this book is 7.3 (out of 10) based on 11 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

Jack T gave it an8:
Economists' traditional data banks have been exhausted and are close to bankruptcy, so like Letitt thay are now robbing the data banks of the other sciences. He really brought nothing to the enterprise but statistical expertise, but that turns out to have been enuf to capture some new insights. Not profound (or even deep!), it is nonetheless a good read and worth the fast read.

Praveen P gave it an8:
Nice book... except the last chapter.

Paula W. gave it a7:
This book doesn't offer much that's new to someone who already has a background in economics, but for the general public it's an engaging introduction to concepts like information asymmetries (as they are used by the Ku Klux Klan) and organizational theory (as in the case of a crack gang).

chuck gave it a7:
thankful to see someone thinking "outside the box" but could use less of the endless self-promoting. The former outweights the latter for a good read through a jossle of a book.

misha gave it a6:
While Levitt is clearly an “outside the box” thinker with some impressive accomplishments, he is also a shameless huckster bent on selling his elixir to folks overwhelmed by the complexity of life who are just dying to believe that there is a simple way to understand everything. His analysis/review of dropping crime levels in major cities and widespread cheating in schools is definitely worth your time. He has done his homework and knows how to look for meaningful data and work it effectively. But often, as he goes beyond basic analyses, his positions become shaky and it shows. The main problems with his work: One, he makes a big deal of saying that he has no unifying theory . . . which means you can’t criticize any inconsistencies in his work (ha, beat you to the punch!). Second, he hammers home the point that “other experts” will put their own interests ahead of those of the reader, so be careful of “all those users” out there . . . but Levitt, himself, is completely trustworthy (verrrry different) and he is writing solely for the reader’s edification (hence don’t even look for hucksterism in his work that might be aimed at making the book a profitable little project regardless of what it takes). Finally, he wants you to believe that he is unique: an economist who treads where none have gone before. Actually, that’s partly true in that he is an economist who likes to tackle matters usually addressed by sociologists, psychologists, and political scientists, but with a conspicuous absence of training in those areas. Hence, he goes from quantitative to qualitative analysis in a way that will astound those who actually have experience with the matter at hand. Step right this way, folks . . . just watch your step.

Dara G gave it a7:
An interesting read, regardless if one agrees with Levitt's theories. However, the overly congratulatory excerpts from Dubner's article about Levitt were not necessary. Readers should not have to be constantly persuaded of the author's genius while they read.

S Yanoff gave it a7:
I would recommend this book to others because of the really interesting cases the authors cite in the book. However, the book really could have been better if they had shortened the topics and maybe covered 2 or 3 more in the book. For example, there is an interesting section at the end on how a person's name affects their outcome in life, especially as it relates to test scores. However, the section drags on and on. A similar analysis within the book details how crime is lower today because of Roe v. Wade in the early 70s. It's a very interesting analysis that begins to drag on.

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