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The field of economics can study more than the workings of economies or businesses, it can also help explore human behavior in how it reacts to incentives. Economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner host an anthology of documentaries that examines how people react to opportunities to gain, wittingly or otherwise. The subjects include the possible role a person's name has for their success in life, why there is so much cheating in an honor bound sport like sumo wrestling, what helped reduce crime in the USA in the 1990s onward and we follow an school experiment to see if cash prizes can encourage struggling students to improve academically. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Steven Levitt - Author:
The closest thing to a worldview, I would say, in "Freakonomics," is that incentives matter. Not just financial incentives, but social incentives and moral incentives.
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I never read the book, but know that it is very popular. The movie does a bad job at selling the book.
Though, I would still be up for reading the book after having watched the movie. This is because the fault of the movie was only partially due to the content of the book. The movie tries to move along at quick pace at the beginning. It has a very catchy poppy kind of theme to it and talks about a real practical use of the study of economics.
After those 5 minutes, things seem to go terribly south. We get this long and fact lacking piece about sumo wrestling. There is an interesting statistic at the beginning of the segment about how sumo wrestlers will lose matches when there is no real loss to them in order to get payback in the future. The rest of it is exposition about how all the super smart economists are using these fancy numbers and statistics to give very good proof that sumo wrestlers are cheating. I would have liked to hear more about these statistics and the reasoning behind why its very likely that we're cheating. This smug movie instead insults our intelligence and passes by this thinking that we would be too stupid to understand it. The narrator goes on about assassinations of whistle blowers... blala yada yada. I started to lose interest at this point.
There was a part that had an interesting look at why abortion may be one of the key reasons of the drop in crime in the 90's. This really peaked my interest and some convincing figures where given. I liked this segment and am eager to read more about this.
After that is a boring long Good Morning America-esque expose on paying kids to get better grades in school. The kids are annoying, the concept is annoying, the results are paltry, and it all seems pretty meaningless by the time you get to the end of it. This was the segment that really killed the movie. It felt like it went on for an hour, although I'm sure it didn't. This reality show garbage really shouldn't be in any kind of movie that calls itself a documentary.
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