Book Review: Freakonomics, by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt

freakonomics“Prepare to be dazzled.” – Malcom Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink.

Even after reading this quote on the front cover of Freakonomics, I was still not prepared. This was the first math related book I have read, a summer requirement for my math class, so I was not expecting to be “dazzled.”

The premise of the book is basically to uncover the times where statisticians have distorted the statistics to portray data other than the truth. And the writers of this book did a fantastic job finding several examples to back up each fact.

The following are my favorite parts of this book:

  • How vastly different people in society can be similar: The idea of incentives governing our thoughts is prevalent in the world around us. Therefore, anyone will cheat if there is a good enough incentive, even school-teachers and sumo wrestlers.
  • How some aspects of a student’s background can affect them and others make no noticeable change in the student’s academic performance. For example, who could have guessed that a split family would not really influence the student’s academics? (Though it surely influences them emotionally.)
  • The influence of a person’s name: Sometimes, a person’s name doesn’t matter that much to their success. An attempt to change their name could indicate motivation, which leads to success more than a name could.

I would not necessarily recommend this book to others who only like reading fiction, as it is unquestionably non-fiction. Nevertheless, Freakonomics was a great read, which I enjoyed because the many incredible stories drew in the reader, and I was in fact “dazzled!”

-Leila S., 9th grade

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