Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

The cover of Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner says, "The authors of Freakonomics offer to retrain your brain." I failed a test online as to whether or not I was a freak. I tend to think like too many other people. Maybe that's why I'm in a traditional profession. (And, the one time a couple of us thought outside the box last week, our library patrons complained so much, we had to change it back. Oh, well, maybe we were just ahead of our time.)

Once again, the authors offer a fascinating book by following one of their own principals; they are good storytellers. Their books would just gather dust if they were filled with statistics and data to prove their points. But, Levitt and Dubner tell about the Japanese student who devised a way to eat more hot dogs, the businessman who found a new way to ask for money for a charity. And, they say freaks don't try to solve the world's big problems. They look for the underlying root of a problem. What is the original cause? They suggest problem solvers think small, not big. "Every big problem has been thought about endlessly by people much smarter than we are. The fact that it remains a problem means it is too damned hard to be cracked in full."

The authors suggest that problem solvers should think like a child. "Freaks like to have fun." They tell a number of stories to illustrate their points of thinking differently in order to solve solutions. They suggest people should, "Have fun, think small, don't fear the obvious." And, don't be afraid to quit. They actually suggested they would make decisions for people by flipping a coin. Would you have thought of that?

As always, Levitt and Dubner offer problems that challenge readers, and solutions that might challenge them even more. As they said, don't read the story of ulcers on an empty stomach. If you've read their previous books, you already know they suggest the crime rate has gone down in recent years because the number of abortions went up. Did you know that school children often do bad in school because they can't see? Sometimes, they just need glasses. The statistics are amazing for this account.

If nothing else, Think Like a Freak might challenge readers to look at the world and work a little differently. If it does, I'm sure the authors will have succeeded.

Check out the publisher's video for Think Like a Freak.

The website is www.freakonomics.com

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner. William Morrow. 2014. ISBN 9780062218339 (hardcover), 268p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

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