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This is an Instaread Summary of 'Think Like a Freak' by Steve D. Levitt and Steve J. Dubner.
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After writing Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner were asked many questions about how to deal with a wide variety of problems. Since problem solving is difficult and time-consuming, they decided to write a book to teach thinking skills instead of trying to offer solutions to specific problems.
The first important idea to keep in mind is that selfish incentives are not as effective as communal incentives when considering how to solve a problem. Most people tend to put their own interests before the interests of others. This is human nature and often makes it difficult to get several people to move in the same direction towards a specific goal. There is no right or wrong way to think about solving a problem. In the modern world, people must become more productive, creative, and rational in their thinking.
The first two books written by Levitt and Dubner were based on a few basic ideas. First, incentives are the foundation of modern life, and figuring them out is the key to understanding and solving any problem. Next, conventional wisdom often turns out to be incorrect and blindly following it can lead to disastrous outcomes. Finally, correlation does not equal causality. In other words, just because two things are identified together does not mean that one causes the other. This book builds on these three basic principles, but is more prescriptive than the previous two titles.
The book is inspired by an economic approach relying on data rather than an ideology to understand how the world works, how resources are allocated, and the obstacles that can get in the way of getting resources to those who need them. The good news is that thinking like a freak is so easy that anyone can do it. The question is why so few people actually do it...