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Freakonomics (2010)

May 25, 2013

MY CALL:  A light-hearted, funny and informative film adaptation of the book that most viewers should enjoy.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Super Size Me (2008), Bigger Faster Stronger (2004).

I’ll start by saying that I’ve read the book years ago.  I also read about one chapter of the book(chosen randomly) every few months as a refresher.  Needless to say, I really like this book.  It’s highly informative on things that you see, encounter and deal with every day but just never stopped to think about it.  So, that said, why bother with the movie?

Arguably the book covers a greater breadth of issues and addresses each one in greater detail, discussing finer points; really educating us.  The movie covers less.  But the movie serves as a Cliff’s Notes edition to give you a taste of what Freakonomics really is.  What’s more is that it does so with a well-composed charm.  You see, this is neither a fictitious plot nor a true documentary.  Rather the author and economist explain things to us in their own words with their own personable nature accompanied by some cute animations.

They address things like…

Does your real estate agent really have any incentive to wait a week to sell your house for an additional $10,000 if you already have an offer for $290,000?

Should we do everything that our parents did when parenting our own kids?  Will books on parenting help me be a better parent?

What are the consequences to the names we give our children?  Or are chosen names consequences of some other trends?

How do you identify cheating based only on SAT scan-tron sheet data?

How can we distinguish causality from happenstance correlations?

In addressing each of these bullet points (chapters in the book), they give their own opinions and present testimonies from random people on the street (“regular people”) and experts on things we didn’t even know there were experts for (like “baby name experts”).
What do you suppose she majored in?

This movie (and the book) makes a good point.  We should stop trying to predict what people are going to do in certain situations and instead first consider their incentives AND THEN predict their actions.  Once you understand people’s incentives it becomes much easier to predict what they’re going to do.  All too often when we view the world we wrongly interpret correlations as causality when, in fact, causality is the greatest mystery behind the veil of what we think we see.

This was light-hearted, funny and informative.  Most should be able to enjoy it.

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