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Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 12, 2014
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“Over nine entertaining chapters [Levitt and Dubner] demonstrate how not to fall into hackneyed approaches to solving problems and concretely illustrate how to reframe questions.” (New York Daily News)
“Compelling and fun.” (New York Post)
“This book will change your life.” (Daily Express (London))
“Good ideas... expressed with panache.” (Financial Times)
“An interesting and thought-provoking read.” (The Horn)
“Their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process and teach us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally --- to think, that is, like a Freak.” (Bookreporter.com)
From the Back Cover
The New York Times bestselling Freakonomics changed the way we see the world, exposing the hidden side of just about everything. Then came SuperFreakonomics, a documentary film, an award-winning podcast, and more.
Now, with Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have written their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process and teach us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally—to think, that is, like a Freak.
Levitt and Dubner offer a blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems, whether your interest lies in minor lifehacks or major global reforms. As always, no topic is off-limits. They range from business to philanthropy to sports to politics, all with the goal of retraining your brain. Along the way, you'll learn the secrets of a Japanese hot-dog-eating champion, the reason an Australian doctor swallowed a batch of dangerous bacteria, and why Nigerian e-mail scammers make a point of saying they're from Nigeria.
Some of the steps toward thinking like a Freak:
- First, put away your moral compass—because it's hard to see a problem clearly if you've already decided what to do about it.
- Learn to say "I don't know"—for until you can admit what you don't yet know, it's virtually impossible to learn what you need to.
- Think like a child—because you'll come up with better ideas and ask better questions.
- Take a master class in incentives—because for better or worse, incentives rule our world.
- Learn to persuade people who don't want to be persuaded—because being right is rarely enough to carry the day.
- Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting—because you can't solve tomorrow's problem if you aren't willing to abandon today's dud.
Levitt and Dubner plainly see the world like no one else. Now you can too. Never before have such iconoclastic thinkers been so revealing—and so much fun to read.
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"... I think we should treat health and life and death more like a regular good....we need to - it's unfortunate, but we need to - make these horrible choices, where we decide, are going to send our kids to college or are we going to keep great-grandma alive for two more weeks, and the cost might be about the same for those two things. Right now we shy away from those decisions, and we pretend like life has infinite value and we can't make these choices."
Like many other people, after reading both of the Freakonomics books, I felt like I learned a ton, but I wasn't sure how it would apply directly to my life.
And that's okay. They weren't writing a self help book, and I read their work because I was genuinely curious in understanding how the world works.
But this book departs from their usual method of explaining how the world works and instead shows you how you can better live in the world.
And that's why I believe this is their best book yet.
Here's a little summary of what I learned:
1. In one chapter, the three hardest words in the english language, they talk about one of the main problems that plagues people today - the inability to say "I don't know." And they show you how it's a deadly combination because "cocky plus wrong" is a recipe for disaster. They then show you how to avoid making this mistake. They even give a word for word script you can use.
2. In another chapter, "WHat's your problem," they share the story of Kobayashi and how he became a professional hot dog - and food eater. They walked through his entire process and how he went on to eat 50 hot dogs when people thought eating 30 was impossible. And even though they're talking about hot dogs, you'll see how this can apply to everyone.
As an example, back when I started creating videos for Social Triggers TV, a friend of mine told me they were filming about 6 videos a day. And I thought, "Well, I'm new at this ther's no way ill get there." And I would film 3 videos a day. Eventually, as I got good, I got to the magic number - 6 videos in a day and I felt like I was on top of the world. Until I spoke to another friend who told me they do 15 or 20 videos in a day. I was SHOCKED. But I went back to the drawing board, refined my process, and eventually got up to 17 videos in a day.
I'm being vague here, mainly because I want you to read the book. But it's funny seeing how the same process I used to increase my video production was used by the hot dog champ as well.
3. And my favorite part of the book is when they talk about what they call "the once and done" technique. If you're a non-profit, you'll LOVE reading about this because you'll see how you can potentially increase donations a drastic amount by using this simple marketing tactic.
And that's it.
Great book and I suggest you buy it and read it.
The authors of Think Like a Freak try to present problems in a way that spin them on their head and force the reader to change their thinking and perspective. Saying “I don’t know” is HARD for most people. It admits defeat in some sort of way and most people don’t want to be wrong or defeated, naturally. But, the authors offer a new way of thinking. Saying “I don’t know” is not defeat, it is the beginning, the jumping off point for new discovery. It also, as the authors say, offers “the power of a good, randomized experiment.” Not knowing is not defeat!
As a teacher, the chapter called “What’s Your Problem?” spoke the most to me. It speaks a great deal toward the education problems in the US. Teachers are under enormous strain from almost every angle possible, and Think Like a Freak offers a new perspective for tackling some of those problems. This book is changing my view of what it calls “noisy problems” and making me realize that there are new ways to experiment with learning. Students who come with baggage can be helped if we look at the problem a little differently. We all have barriers that we face out there, it is up to all of us change our perspective.
Q: Who is it for? A: It is not for persons who have spent years reading about Epistemology (like the current writer) but for people who need something that is very light in tone and deliberately made to be very interesting.
Q: What are some of the sources that expand on the nature of some of the topics covered in this book? A: 1. Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way To Be Smart. Talks about only finding relationships between variables and not getting too caught up in cause and effects; 2. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Talks about making failures survivable and how learning what *doesn't* work is just as important as learning what does work; 3. Various books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This book talks about the limits of what *can* actually be known.
Q: Do I recommend this book? A: Yes. Even for the full price (Kindle). And even for people who know most of all this information, it's good seeing the authors update said information with new and interesting examples and good prose.
Top international reviews
The writing is clear and engaging and avoids off-putting professional jargon. The book is brief enough to attract a very casual reader with some interest in the subject. Recommended.
However, if you've listened to a lot of their podcasts and additional material then there's isn't too much there's new here. The cases presented are things they've mentioned before. Nevertheless, that is not the focus of this book as the crux of it is the inspiration behind it. As such, it's still a fascinating read. Dubner has a fantastic writing style that has a real flow to it.
If you're a fan of all things freakanomics, it's a great addition to your library!
The Chapters are [with my summary in brackets]:
1) What Does It Mean to Think Like a Freak?
[You need data and you need to understand cause and effect]
2) The Three Hardest Words in the English Language
[I won't spoil it!]
3) What's Your Problem?
[How you define the problem drives the answer. Lean practitioners and six sigma belts - this will give you some "real" life examples to use]
4) Like a Bad Dye Job the Truth Is in the Roots
[Address the cause - not the symptoms]
5) Think Like a Child
[Ask the daft question - Why?]
6) Like Giving Candy to a Baby
[The Power of Incentives]
7) What Do King Solomon and Dave Lee Roth Have in Common?
[A clever test... with Game Theory]
8) How to Persuade People Who Don't Want to Be Persuaded
[The Science of Persuasion]
9) The Upside of Quitting
[If at first you don't succeed... try something easier instead! - Actually the danger of sunk costs.]
I really enjoyed the book - Highly recommended.
If you pick this up cheap it's worth the hour or two it'll take you to read, but if you've not read Freakonomics that is the book to go for.
Another highlight of the book was the revelation regarding a chapter entitled 'Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance", which featured in their second book. Absolute genius! (But I won't give it away and spoil it.)
So, if you haven't read the first two books, check them out first, and then give this one a go. Well worth it.
Its not a 'heavyweight' book like Keynes and Smith's work but that makes it an easier (and more enjoyable?) read.