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In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the landmark book Freakonomics comes this curated collection from the most readable economics blog in the universe. It’s the perfect solution for the millions of readers who love all things Freakonomics. Surprising and erudite, eloquent and witty, When to Rob a Bank demonstrates the brilliance that has made the Freakonomics guys an international sensation, with more than 7 million books sold in 40 languages, and 150 million downloads of their Freakonomics Radio podcast.
When Freakonomics was first published, the authors started a blog—and they’ve kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. In When to Rob a Bank, they ask a host of typically off-center questions: Why don’t flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?
Over the past decade, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have published more than 8,000 blog posts on Freakonomics.com. Many of them, they freely admit, were rubbish. But now they’ve gone through and picked the best of the best. You’ll discover what people lie about, and why; the best way to cut gun deaths; why it might be time for a sex tax; and, yes, when to rob a bank. (Short answer: never; the ROI is terrible.) You’ll also learn a great deal about Levitt and Dubner’s own quirks and passions, from gambling and golf to backgammon and the abolition of the penny.
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About the Author
Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the most influential American economist under forty. He is also a founder of The Greatest Good, which applies Freakonomics-style thinking to business and philanthropy.
Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning journalist and radio and TV personality, has worked for the New York Times and published three non-Freakonomics books. He is the host of Freakonomics Radio and Tell Me Something I Don't Know.
Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He quit his first career—as an almost rock star—to become a writer. He has since taught English at Columbia, worked for The New York Times, and published three non-Freakonomics books.
Table of Contents
What Do Blogs and Bottled Water Have in Common? 1
1 We Were Only Trying to Help 5
2 Limberhand the Masturbator and the Perils of Wayne 37
3 Hurray for High Gas Prices! 49
4 Contested 91
5 How to Be Scared of the Wrong Thing 101
6 If You're Not Cheating, You're Not Trying 135
7 But Is It Good for the Planet? 165
8 Hit on 21 187
9 When to Rob a Bank 223
10 More Sex Please, We're Economists 255
11 Kaleidoscopia 271
12 When You're a Jet… 303
The Highest Praise Anyone Could Ever Give 351
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a good hodge podge read. The topics were varied, usually short, and easy to pick up and set back down. I enjoyed the economics thinking applied to a variety of topics that aren't usually looked at by other academics. It was nice to get the juices flowing but made me frustrated when I wanted information on a specific topic. Thanks for encouraging my academic curiousity!
This one appealed to me, for the most part. The writing, generally, is good to great, with a simple, straightforward format and a clear, appropriate narrative (despite the multiple authors). I found the text to be, in a literary sense, easy to read, as well as accessible (that is, with a minimum of lofty academic terms and the like). Plus, there's no small amount of good humor inhabiting the book, which never hurts. As far as content, 'Bank' is, in my opinion, both rich and interesting, not to mention diverse. From the outset, there's plenty of substance in the compiled material, all of which manages to say something meaningful, in one way or another (and in the trademark Freakonomics style). However, what I found most valuable was the book's underlying themes and concepts; namely, the reader is shown the world through the super-logical eyes of an economist, as to redefine reality in economic terms (for instance: the pros and cons of incentive-based reasoning). There is, I believe, much value in gaining such perspective, from the theoretical to the practical, and the authors use this unique viewpoint to convey some important and valid ideas. In particular, the book provides a great study in logistics, and the incredible complexity and nuance of life (as well as how imagination figures into understanding such, being the best, and perhaps only, resource in this regard). Add to this a fine collection of conceptual and philosophical musings (and, at times, just some good old-fashioned storytelling), and 'Bank' was, for me, a pleasing and enlightening read. If nothing else, I learned a thing or two; for me, that makes about any book worthwhile. One complaint: at times, the book employs some odd, flawed logic, at times even contradicting earlier statements made therein (or so I read it as, at least). This could be explained, perhaps, by the multiple authors and their respective views and opinions; in any case, it was a minor issue, and failed to take away from my enjoyment. My thanks goes out to this book's authors, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work and service. * * * Some notable quotes from this book: "For most government officials, there is much more pressure to look like you are trying to stop terrorism than there is to actually stop it." -- p.11 "[The senator] turned and walked away, still smiling. I had never felt so good about being so fully rejected. I guess that's what it takes to be a great politician." -- p.36 "Flying across the North Atlantic is routine, right? It wasn't just a few short decades ago. We, the pilots, make it routine because we have skills, experience, and training like few others. Gifted? No, not many of us are. But dedicated and focused upon excellence, you bet!" -- p.85 "Pardo was a churchgoer whom no one pegged as a homicidal maniac. 'He's a totally different person from what you see and hear on the news for what he did,' said a family friend." -- p.131 "My father, who is a doctor, was realistic from the start about what modern medicine might be able to do to save his daughter from cancer. Even with those low expectations, he was shocked at how impotent -- and actually conterproductive -- her interactions with the medical system turned out to be." -- p.289
Extremely insightful! Intriguing blend of what if's and in depth analysis of human tendencies. I enjoy how Levitt & Dubner draw out conclusions based on assumptions, many not with the end result one would assume. I've become a follower of the podcast format and a fan of anything they produce!
Very interesting read, if a bit scattered.
Short essays on various subjects