If you have somehow missed the Freakonomics phenomenon over the last decade, then you should go straight out and read the first book in this series. Freakonomics, co-authored by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, presented a unique look at many of the problems that pervade our modern society – some important ones, some not so. The authors apply both economics and a unique way of thinking to everyday phenomena, and the links are surprising: for instance, that freeing up abortion laws in the 1970s had significant impact on crime rate in the 1990s. Freakonomics and its sequel Superfreakonomics have sold over 5 million copies between them, so it was inevitable that a third book might follow. And it has. And it is as entertaining as the others.
In Think Like a Freak, Levitt and Dubner present tips for would be “freakonomists”. They are simple really: admit you don’t know, ask the right questions, use storytelling when attempting to persuade others, and, maybe some of the wisest advice – its OK to quit. That’s right, quitters are not people worthy of scorn and derision, after all.
Unlike the other books, the anecdotal stories are not as well fleshed out, and some stories will be well known to many readers, such as the fact that bacteria causes stomach ulcers. However, the backstory of the scientist who discovered this connection is not so well known, and is really rather interesting. He asked the right question, at the right time, and, according to the authors, that is key to being a freak. And what about the Japanese man who crashed the record for the number of hotdogs consumed in 10 minutes in the famous 4th of July Coney Island competition. With his strategy, he went on to win six years in a row.
Levitt and Dubner are great storytellers and they have a knack for finding the quirkiest, weirdest and downright most interesting facts to share in their books. They hint this may be the last though – all the more reason to get your copy of Think Like a Freak.