Book Review: Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner)

FreakonomicsImagine for a minute a parent buys a new car seat. They opt for the most expense one with a 6 point safety harness almost roll cage type characteristics. The head off and have it installed by an expert. "Theirs is a gesture of love, surely, but also a gesture of what might be called obsessive parenting. (Obsessive parents know who they are and are generally proud of the fact; non-obsessive parents also know who the obsessive parents are and tend to snicker at them)"

And with that quote I introduce the book Freakonomics. It is a book that looks at how we act verses the data. A child is more likely to die in you neighbours pool than if you purchase a cheaper car seat. It explores the myth of how much money drug dealers make, attributes a drop in crime with the legislation of abortion in the US, and investigates how teachers cheat to improve the schools performance.

It also looks at what makes a perfect parent (from a statistical viewpoint), and highlights some things statistically that matter and don't matter as far as your child getting ahead.

4 things that matter:

  • The child's parents are highly educated.
  • The child's mother was 30 or older at the time of the first child's birth.
  • The child's parents are involved in the PTA.
  • The child has many books in her home.

4 things that don't matter:

  • The child's parents moved into a better neighbourhood.
  • The child frequently watches TV.
  • The child's mother didn't work between birth and kindergarten.
  • The child's parents read to her nearly every day.

I'll leave it to you to read and consider these things for yourself.

My key lesson: Correct analysis of numbers and data can turn up a heap of facts that I have never before considered. 

Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Society, Provocative thought.

Pages 306 one relaxing weekend
Readability 3 (1 = Easy, 5 = Hard)
Enjoyment 4 (1 = Never Read, 5 = Remarkable)
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