Using statistics, the authors note many interesting coincidences that they reduce to simple explanations. For instance, it is noted that high echelon sumo wrestlers tend to collude to remain at the top of their field. While impossible to discern from just watching an event, applying statistical analysis to their matches indicates that there is likely cheating going on. Other interesting things that are noted by the Levitt and Dubner are that since the legalization of abortion, there appears to be a reduction of crime in the United States. Furthermore, the authors delve into explorations of drug dealing, socioeconomics of naming children, and the effects of parenting on education.
This book taught me to take a critical look at a broad range of subjects and that appearances are deceiving. At the root of all the examples that the authors used was the model of rational utility-maximization. The study of the incentives was the fastest way to show the rationale behind decisions and the statistical correlations between bizarre events. This book greatly developed my ability to make optimal decisions by exploring numbers in deeper detail and trying to derive meaning from them in context. Ultimately, looking at a set of numbers is meaningless if they are viewed in a vacuum without the benefits of context.
My outside interests in a wide range of subjects will be an asset to the UVA accounting program. It will provide me with many backgrounds that I can use to analyze information that I am required to absorb in the rigorous academics. Furthermore, it will give me the opportunity to inform myself, as well as colleagues and faculty members of information that they might otherwise not have come to by themselves. Knowledge is power, and the fastest way to acquire that power is through reading. Reading is the basic building block of further learning.
This was a fascinating book that showed me that there were many ways to think about a subject. The truth is, that this was not strictly a work on economics but also a work on sociology. The multidisciplinary approach of the authors reinforced a belief in me that it is impossible to analyze economic situations divorced from the world at large. Furthermore, it also showed me that rigorous statistical analysis can reveal hidden information in data. Learning through extracurricular reading is one of my favorite pass times. I hope to enrich and be enriched by colleagues and faculties outside interests.