Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain

‘THINK LIKE A FREAK: THE AUTHORS OF FREAKONOMICS OFFER TO RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN’


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OPENING LINE:

The book that sets out to prove that being a “freak” might not be such a bad thing after all.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics changed the way we see the world, exposing the hidden side of just about everything.
Now, with Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have written their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process and offer a blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems. The topics range from business to philanthropy to sports to politics, all with the goal of retraining your brain. Along the way, you’ll learn the secrets of a Japanese hot-dog-eating champion, the reason an Australian doctor swallowed a batch of dangerous bacteria, and why Nigerian e-mail scammers make a point of saying they’re from Nigeria.
Levitt and Dubner plainly see the world like no one else. Now you can, too. Never before have such iconoclastic thinkers been so revealing – and so much fun to read.
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 the age of 40.
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.
©2014 Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers


THE PLOT:

The authors of the acclaimed ‘Freakonomics’ and ‘SuperFreakonomics’ are back with more stories designed to get people to think about things in a different way. In short, this volume of stories is designed to help people “think like a freak” and that’s not a bad thing at all.
I hesitate to call this a series of books because any of them can easily be read as a standalone work. There are often references to the previous books in ‘Think Like a Freak’ but the authors don’t just assume that you have read those volumes or that you remember them all that well. So a sufficient amount of context is provided when they make those references.
‘Think Like a Freak’ examines how a young Japanese man became a competitive eating champion by studying the habits of others and looking for a better way. Do you think those Nigerian email scammers are stupid? ‘Think Like a Freak explains why they are smarter than you are giving them credit for.
From penalty kicks in soccer to why sometimes the best thing a person can do is quit, ‘Think Like a Freak’ contains the same type of captivating stories and mind bending revelations that can be found in the other two volumes.


THE AUTHOR:

In Chapter 8 of ‘Think Like a Freak’, the authors discuss how to persuade someone who doesn’t want to be persuaded. If you read that chapter, you will come to understand that they have been using these techniques in their books from ‘Freakonomics’ and beyond. In fact, Levitt and Dubner employ some of the same suggestions mentioned in Jay Heinrichs’ ‘Thank You for Arguing’ which I have also reviewed.
They make their points in a conversational way that is easy to read and thought provoking. They do not talk down to their audience in any way, and they employ the practice of storytelling which they claim is essential to persuasion.


THE NARRATION:

I don’t really have anything to say about the narration of Stephen Dubner that I didn’t say in the review of ‘Freakonomics’ or ‘SuperFreakonomics’.
I enjoy listening to his narration, which is done in a conversational style to match the writing.


THE PRODUCTION:

The audio track sounds as good as you would expect given that this was recorded in the year 2014. There are chapter stops corresponding with each of the book’s 9 chapters. In the book proper, there is no use of music or sound effects.
What do I mean by the book proper? At the end of the book, there are two episodes of the ‘Freakonomics Radio Podcast’ for you to sample. This is a nice addition to the book, and I enjoyed listening to the episodes. I could write about how this works as an incentive and at least got me to subscribe to the podcast, but that would distract from the overall point. This really is a well produced podcast, however.
If you factor out the three podcast episodes, the running time of the book itself shrinks from 7 hours and 5 minutes down to 5 hours and 18 minutes.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

In ‘Freakonomics’ and ‘SuperFreakonomics’ the authors attempt to get you to think a lot about why things happen the way that they do. They challenge belief systems and conventional wisdom. The subtitle of ‘Freakonomics’ speaks of “exploring the hidden side of everything” and that is what they do.
‘Think Like a Freak’ has a slightly different goal in mind. It wants the reader to think about thinking. It still challenges conventional wisdom and beliefs, but it delves more into the mechanics of it all. In ‘Think Like a Freak,’ it isn’t enough to say that Takeru Kobayashi became a hot dog eating champion because he thought differently; it examines what it is that made him think differently in the first place.
It should go without saying that I would recommend this book to anyone who has read either or both of Levitt/Dubner’s collaborations. But I would also recommend this book to anyone who is looking for new ways to see the same old world. This book is as much of a gateway into the work of Levitt/Dubner as either of the two prior volumes. You’ll definitely learn something, and more likely than not, you’ll have some fun along the way.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner Stephen J. Dubner Harper Audio Business & Economics 05/12/2014 7 hours, 5 minutes 9/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘THINK LIKE A FREAK: THE AUTHORS OF FREAKONOMICS OFFER TO RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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