We're Blegging You: How Has Freakonomics Changed the World?

Next week, after more than four years in hardcover, Freakonomics is being published in the U.S. in paperback. We’ve been asked to go on TV to talk about the effects (if any) the book has had, whether in the realm of crime-fighting or baby-naming or book-writing. We need your help in gathering good examples to talk about. Nothing is too large or too small, in your life or the lives of others. Thanks in advance.


As a social scientist, it's helped me to consider how I might "think outside the box" to look at new ways of collecting/analyzing data.


It gave me respect for numbers for the first time. -- Tim


Four years later, I'm still referring to "Loser" (later Lou) and "Winner" Williams. I also love reviewing the top baby name lists, broken down by education level. Would love an update to those lists!

Raj Pandravada

While the book has had a huge impact on the way we view things, people, incentives and everyday transactions, I'd argue that the blog has had more of an influence simply because of the continuous stream of ideas, from aptonyms to the provenance of obscure quotations, and pointers to similar ideas across the web.

That being said, Freakonomics has surely made it okay to suffix ANYTHING with '-onomics'. c.f. Chic-onomics, Cow-onomics and my favorite, Aaaargh-onomics.


Couple things....
My son's name is distinctly Middle-Eastern sounding. We talked about him using his first initial, middle name for official documents. He ultimately decided that he would use his first name, and hasn't yet experienced any major employment problems.
The state education board is considering reform of the education system by rewarding teachers based on students' successes rather than just tenure/level of education of the teachers. I immediately thought of the sumo wrestler cheating chapter, and it causes me concern that some teachers would fix the tests to insure a raise.

There are so many strange entanglements that "Freakonomics" brought out; I enjoy re-reading the book often.


I changed my major at college to Economics after reading Freakonomics during a summer break. I am now a double major in Math and Economics and sincerely am appreciative of all the walls brought down by Freakonomics; now all types of data are fair game to look at.


After reading this book, I wish I had majored in Economics.

I will definitely take great care in naming my children and not misspelling the original version of the name.


As a banker, the book has helped me think more about incentives.

I also gave my wife the book to read, for two reasons.
1. We are thinking of having children soon, and I wanted her to read the portion on 'What Makes a Good Parent' (she's someone i can easily see as a 'obsessive' parent).
2. She is an English teacher at a high school in the south suburbs of Chicago (not in the greatest neighborhood or school district), and I wanted her to read the parts about how parents and schools influence the kids and how it related to testing.

Nicholas Blanchard

Freakonomics' high profile definitely spurred a lot of interest (and subsequent books from other authors) in the subject of "pop economics" and to some extent, has revived the notion of "economic intuition" among academic economists.

I think the popularity of behavioral economics (such as Thaler and Sustein's "Nudge") owes at least a bit to Freakonomics paving the way.


I just finished reading Freakonomics. I am just not into anything that even distantly echoes of economics. But, wow, you guys have taught me to think! And ask a lot of whys and hows. Its amazing, because I find myself doing a lot more. I'm no longer related to maths and statistics, but I do find myself using the inquisitiveness I gained from this book, in my field. I'm putting in more effort, gathering a lot of data, to just make sure what I end up learning is correct.

If even a fraction of students in my college started doing that, we'd just have a better health system!

And I'll probably listen to my uncles chanting numbers now...


Like DJ, it helped convince me to be an economics major. And now that I am graduate, I am unemployed.

HAHA, just kidding, I am not unemployed, but Freakonomics DID convince me that the way economists think, the structures and models that we use, are useful in just about every worldy situation.


Freakonomics, quite simply, has made economics not boring. I could list many examples, but I see no need. It has made complicated mathematical analysis interesting to a guy who got B minuses and C's in math.


It made me study economics instead of international relations...which is the best decision I have ever made!

maybe in a few yeard when they abolish the discretionary "offside" rule in soccer you could also claim credit!

Rachel Eden

It has made it easier to persuade my (accountancy) students that economics is fun and related to the real world - for the qualification I teach the most they have to do a paper in Economics and I always throw in a couple of examples.

Small downside - people who have only ever read Freak-onomics sometimes mis-quote or over use some of the book's insights. This can be annoying for a snooty Economics grad like me!


I've always been interested in psychology/sociology, but I am also a hardcore scientist at heart (numbers, scientific experiment, etc). Freakonomics bridged my interest w/ my strengths and for the first time gave it a name -- behavioral economics. If I can have a do-over in college, I would certainly choose to major in the field!


As a professor teaching micro principles, many of my students have heard of Freakonomics, even if they haven't actually read it, so I use several examples from Freakonomics (both the book and the blog) to introduce core principles and to hammer home to my students that economics is a SOCIAL science, that we study choices, incentives, etc. and not money. I think that makes economics a lot more interesting to students and like for DJ and Julie in the comment above, makes it more attractive major.


I tried to warn my brother not to name his daughter Bianka because I had reservations and everyone I talked to at school said it was "a ghetto name" (a Black person said that). She ended up with a different name.


Freakonomics has not changed the world in any measurable way; however, it has helped me to look at the world with a great deal more amusement. Since Freakonomics and the host of other popular behavioral economics books, I've come to the conclusion that economics is a far better predictor of human behavior than psychology. Now if economics could only model the economy....


After reading "Freakonomics" I saw a checkout girl in a big-box outlet named Latrena. Prior to Freakonomics, I might not have noticed her name. Post Freakonomics, I imagined picking up her resume and reading her name. The imagery was not pleasant. Thanks to Freakonomics, I'm aware of the potential bias and can overcome it.

Ramana Murthy

Must add a new chapter.. 'how to make money of Freakonomics' :-)