Friday, April 6, 2012

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

This book is packed to the binding with relavent and important incidents. So much, in fact, that my brain is turning to mush, just thinking about all the turn-arounds and side trips that were taken to explain them. I will try my best to do the same (minus the side trips and turn-arounds).

Once incident that this book mentions is cheating; that is school wise and sport wise. Levitt and Dubner are constantly bring up the term 'incentives' or reasons behind people actions. I guess in a better definition it would be the encouragment to do something. Anywho... the authors use this to explain why people cheat.
The teachers incentive can either be selfish or un-selfish. Selfishly speaking, the teacher could want better test scores to boost their rep, or better scores to give the school more money, which in turn means more money for them. Then, there are the un-selfich reasons. those would be that the teacher doesn't want their student(s) to fail so they cheat for them. There is also the possibility that the teacher gave hints and tips to the students that allowed them to do better.
Either way, according to the school and the test scorers, this is wrong.
The same goes for sportsmen. Maybe they also have a reputation to protect. maybe winning this match will make the 'hit the big time' and will thus earn them some more money. Again, either way to the fans and the referees, this is wrong (although sometimes the referee can also be bribed to cheat).

Then there is information and the use of said information.
In the KKK and Real Estate Agents chapter, Dubner and Levitt take many explanations to emphasize that information makes a huge difference.
Throughout this chapter the authors compare the KKK's information to Kennedy's information. Obviously, in the end, Kennedy had more information. This was evident becuase he was able to broadcast, live on the radio, information on the KKK. Inside info, meeting and other assortments of information involving the KKK. Thanks to that information, the police (or the ones who werent already involved in the KKK) were able to prevent any violence or violation of rights. Also, thanks to that information, the KKK became much less of a threat because you herd about them every night.
It's like when you get the flu shot every year. It's meant to build up immune systems. Because Kennedy exposed the public to the KKK every night over the radio, they became less of a threat. This lack of a threat greatly weakened the KKK and they, eventually, began to dwindle.
If that isn't enough to prove that information is key, I don't know what is.

Finally, there is "proper parenting".
Any parent would love to recieve a full-length guide on how to parent. However, if such a guide existed, it still faces the possibility of failing with a variaty of children. This is becasue every child is different and need different techniques of parenting to be brought up on.
The there are forms of parenting that are frowned upon now, compared to the past. Lets take the all known  punishment, spanking. In the past, spanking was an accepted form of punishment among the parents. Now-a-days, it can be seen as a form of child abuse.
A great example, nit mentioned in the book is a more recent event about a case of child abuse. Maybe 2-3 years ago, a news broadcast mentioned a mom giving her child an ice bath as a form of punishment for, I believe, bad grades or something surrounding school.
To officials, this was seen as child abuse, point-blank. To the mother, howevere, it was seen as a form of punishment.
Even in my case, if my youngest sister brakes something, the length of punishment i could do was a) yell at her, b) smack or hand or c) take away one of her toys. That is it. Had she broken something, say 10 years previously, she would have been spancked.
This brings the whole 'proper punishment' issue into light. What is a proper way to punish one's child? This issue was also mentioned, but neve answered (probably because there really is no good answer).
Parenting will always be an issue, whether it be good or bad parenting.

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