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Freakonomics – Cutting through ‘common knowledge’

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Freakonomics – Cutting through ‘common knowledge’

It makes you think just how many decisions we make daily based on knowledge and information that’s just wrong……


To use an example from another book, ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow’;


If I was to introduce you to a 16 year old boy called Jason. Jason is not particularly strong, tests well in school, wears classes, is shy and his favourite subject is maths. And i was then to ask you will Jason be a farmer or a software programmer, the obvious answer would be a future in IT. However, the number of farmers in the UK compared to software programmers leaves the chance of Jason bailing hay 6 times more likely than building your next website! 😉


It’s this bias that leads us to making fundamental errors in our decision making on, probably, a daily basis.


The book ends up sailing quite close to the wind on the topics it decides to contest, why the authors chose to use stats and figures to highlight bad parenting techniques, or the lack of parenting techniques effect on a child’s future success. Or highlighting that it was the legalisation of abortion that saw crime rates fall dramatically in America in the 1990’s (strong I know).


But it does raise some very interesting points about our ability to really discern cause and effect. Just because there is a correlation between two things, it’s  A) cold outside and it’s B) snowing, doesn’t necessarily mean one causes the other, A causes B or B causes A. There could be a third common factor C) that is causing both, or a number in this case. It’s winter, lack of daylight, high chance of precipitation.


I suppose what I took personally from the book is…. That, if we can have the presence of mind to look a decisions consciously and try not to let predetermined opinions or unfounded information cloud our judgement, we might stand a better chance of noticing the opportunities we have daily to get us closer to our goals.


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