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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything - Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt

I really enjoyed this book. Apparently a lot of people didn't like that it wasn't about one topic necessarily. I'm not entirely sure why that's a bad thing. The topics range from sumo wrestling to abortion, all of which were very thought-provoking. The authors worked in some central themes such as the triviality of conventional wisdom, the importance of incentives, and the misunderstanding surrounding correlations and causation. While the book ranges in topics, a lot of the chapters are interconnected and answers from one chapter are used in another as examples. This book was very well put together.

Also, I really liked that the authors did not try to attached morality to the findings. They don't say abortion should be legal or that real-estate agents are bad people. They present the data and the interpretation of that data without affixing a "good" or "bad" label to the people involved. They did a fairly good job of remaining objective.

One of the coolest things about this book is that is it basically a little taste of economics for laypeople. You don't have to have taken a single course in economics to understand the book, but the authors use the principles of economics and statistics to answer questions that would be interesting to every-day people. My absolute favorite part was their emphasis on the distinction between correlations and causality. As a Psychology major, this distinction is so crucial to interpretations but also so easily manipulated or misunderstood. I think the authors gave great explanations and examples of how a correlation does not necessarily equate to causation.

The one thing I didn't really like about this book was some of the anecdotal examples that were given. I see where such stories would make for a more interesting read and were used to as an additive alongside the actual numerical data, but I think anecdotal evidence too easily manipulates and misleads the reader. The authors condone anecdotal evidence, then use some to spice up the numbers. This didn't take away from the message for me, but it was a little annoying.

Overall, an amazing book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.