Freakonomics | Study Guide

Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

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Freakonomics | Epilogue : Two Paths to Harvard | Summary


Key Takeaways

The authors come full circle in linking seemingly unrelated topics and fields through the lens of economics. They set out to prove that given the right data, one can look past obvious correlations and conventional wisdom to real, often more nuanced, stories.

  • Although no "unifying theme" exists among the topics in the book, there is a common thread regarding how people behave in the real world—one need only take a novel approach to discern and measure data to tell a story about it.
  • The aim is to have people take a closer look at conventional wisdom and how things may not be quite what they seem.
  • There is not always a direct link between morality and economic decisions.
  • To prove this point, the authors refer to two earlier examples: one a white boy who grew up with loving, educated parents and the other a black boy who was abandoned, beaten, and joined a gang.
  • Both boys made it to Harvard, one as a faculty member, the other as an undergraduate.
  • The black boy grew up to become the Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., who studied black underachievement, and the white boy grew up to be the terrorist Ted Kaczynski (known as the Unabomber).
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