03 Dec Freakonomics
Six page turning chapters make up what is simply one of the best business books I have ever read, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
While shaking thoughts of conventional wisdom and offering what some consider to be controversial data, these authors tie everything up with the thread of incentive, the why leading to the how one gets what one wants. Prepare for fascinating comparisons from the rogue economists!
Chapter one discusses the similarities of sumo wrestlers and teachers! What? Cheating is across the board both in the classroom where teachers use a number two pencil to change their students’ answers and during a match when wrestlers find themselves in a 8 vs. 6 scenario. Caution! Claiming sumo to be rigged is more than taboo for some. Two men were killed for just that.
Chapter two relates real estate agents to the Ku Klux Klan. Now, you might be thinking at this point, what radical comparisons. You haven’t read anything yet! Both parties use fear tactics and specific language. Is the property “granite” or “spacious” and what are the meanings behind these euphemisms? If you are in the market for a home it would be wise to know what information asymmetry means (and stay away from “Klaverns!).
Chapter three introduces us to another familiar name, Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day, as the authors delve into why gang members live with their mothers, while chapter four focuses on reasons for the lack of criminals. Some points of discussion include capitol punishment, innovative police strategies and the aging of the population. The core of the argument is Roe vs. Wade.
The final two chapters elaborate on parenting and name trends. Here’s a favorite line:
…anybody who bothers to change his name in the name of economic success is–like the high school freshman in Chicago who entered the school-choice lottery–at least highly motivated, and motivation is probably a stronger indicator of success than, well, a name (pg. 189).
In short I ask, topics aside, what make a book a good book? A good book will keep you turning to the next page. I enjoyed every turn the writers created in this highly recommended read, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.