Friday, 22 January 2010

Freakonomics: A Review

After a really really long time, I have tried my hands on yet another book review. Though I was slightly late in embarking upon this classic, now is not the bad time because the sequel: Super Freakonomics' is topping the charts at book stores.

Steven Levitt (a famous economist and a Harvard graduate) and Stephen Dubner (a New York journalist) have produced an impeccable work in Freakonomics. Using statistical data to reveal grotesque connections and heterodox behaviors is the basic concept behind the book by and large. Having said that, it is important to note that the book does not have any unifying theme. The authors have chosen to call this approach a treasure-hunt approach to the art of explaining the oblivious.

Is there an incentive for real estate agents to sell their own homes for more than they sell their clients' homes? How would parents react if child care centers started charging fees when they pick up their children after closing time after it had been previously free? Who is most likely to cheat when bagels are paid for on an honor system? Why do drug-dealers tend to live with their moms? What is common between school teachers and Sumo wrestlers? How did the police break into the Ku-Klux clan in 'reality'?Answers to all of these and much more is what is contained in the book. Those answers are simple but surprising. Behavioral economics is the name of the genre that includes this type of number based behavioral reasoning.

Though the book proclaims no unifying theme, to me personally, the unifying theme behind the book is obviously to make the reader find ways to asking questions. The revised edition of the book contains additional texts which are excerpts from the Freakonomics blog and columns. What I got out of the book is a new dimension to my thinking - an economic way of thinking. The Abhorring conventional wisdom was clearly an intention of the authors. Causes of problems that seem obvious usually, might not be the real causes more often than not. Hence, questioning everything is the right starting point to decode any conundrum.

Malcolm Gladwell's thoughts are very very closely aligned to the thought process behind this book. Super Freakonomics is slightly different from the prelude. The authors have taken a counter-intuitive approach to peep into the future.

Verdict: An excellent read. Should be read at one go. Will most likely entice the reader to buy the sequel and in some cases entice the reader to buy all of Malcolm Gladwell's in wholesale. (Last point was true in my case)

Happy Reading!!

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