“An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.”

That’s economist Steven D. Levitt talking about incentives as the root of his field of study, i.e. how people respond to negative and positive incentives.

Our economy is turned upside down these days so why not really shake ourselves up by reading a book which debunks commonly held beliefs. Levitt, with journalist Stephen J. Dubner, wrote Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. The book takes conventional wisdom, applies facts and gets to the truth. Levitt takes on subjects from whether reading to your baby will actually make them a better student to what is more dangerous than guns. In one of the most controversial sections, Freakonomics asserts the main reason that violent crime is down is due to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which kept a generation of unwanted children from becoming criminals. No wonder reviewers called the 2006 book both engaging and incendiary.

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