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

written by Matthew Rensberry, MD MBA on 2014-08-28

Another excellent book in the Freak series. Levitt is able to use this book to bring concepts from the first two together into practical means to view and interact with our world. I save some of my favorite quotes from the book below.

Some ways to think like a freak:

"...appreciate that your opponent's opinion is likely based less on fact and logic than on ideology and herd thinking." p245
"Whenever you set out to persuade someone, remember that you are merely the producer of the argument. The consumer has the only vote that counts." p246

"...you can plainly get into trouble by getting your frames mixed up. But it can also be incredibly productive to nudge a relationship from one framework into another. Whether through subtle cues or concrete incentives, a lot of problems can be solved by shifting the dynamic between parties, whether it's two people or two billion." p184

"simply admit that the future is far less knowable than you think." p40
"Smart people love to make smart-sounding predictions, no matter how wrong they may turn out to be." p40
"The next time you run into a question that you can only pretend to answer, go ahead and say 'I don't know' and then follow up, certainly, with 'butmaybe I can find out.' And work as hard as you can to do that. You may be surprised by how receptive people are to your confession..."p73

"...just because you're good at something doesn't mean you're good at everything. Unfortunately, this fact is routinely ignored.."p44

"Here is the broader point: whatever problem you're tying to solve, make sure you're not just attacking the noisy part of the problem that happens to capture your attention." p78

"Kids are not afraid to share their wildest ideas. As long as you can tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one, generating a boatload of ideas, even outlandish ones, can only be a good thing."p130

"If there is one mantra a Freak lives by, it is this: People respond to incentives." p156
"Understanding the incentives of all the players in a given scenario is a fundamental step in solving any problem." p156
"...here's a simple set of rules that usually point us in the right direction:

  • Figure out what people really care about, not what the say they care about.
  • Incentivize them on the dimensions that are valuable to them but cheap for you to provide.
  • Pay attention to how people respond; if their response surprises or frustrates you, learn from it and try something different.
  • Whenever possible, create incentives that switch the frame from adversarial to cooperative
  • Never, ever think that people will do something just because it is the "right" thing to do.
  • Know that some people will do everything they can to game the system, finding ways to win that you never could have imagined. If only to keep yourself sane, try to applaud their ingenuity rather than curse their greed."p196-197