The Library: Think Like a Freak, by Stephen J. Dubner & Steven D. Levitt

Reviewed by Alex.

Firstly I need to say that I’m a big fan of the Freakonomics books and their studies. Many years ago they were my introduction to the patterns in what seems like irrational behaviour – a topic that many other books have explored further since.

This book, the third from the economist and journalist authors, steps beyond the short story style of first two releases into a new self-help genre. It’s a guide for the everyday person that attempts to show them how to re-frame the way we look at problems and make visible the behavioural patterns that are usually missed because we don’t expect people to act like humans, responding to incentives rather than rational arguments. Most of the solutions are about changing the question to begin with.

Although very helpful in the business of advertising (chapters range from how to craft arguments to relationship frameworks), the methods are also explained in a way that they can be applied to life in general. In fact the last chapters of the book focus on how ‘thinking like a freak’ by simply letting go.

Although not everything is practical, it’s a book filled with a tonne of interesting facts and tactics, particularly if read with the mentality that’s suggested in the introduction – “to embrace ‘I don’t know’”.