Freakonomics

You are required to write a six-page essay based upon Freakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner. This
is not a report, and it is not just a summary. It is not a paper that strings together other people’s
ideas. Instead, it is your analysis of the situations presented by the authors. Specific instructions
include:

• It must be six full pages in length.
• You must use Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, with one inch top,
bottom and side margins. Do not create extra line spaces between paragraphs or
topics.
• Use MLA formatting.
• It must include appropriate and relevant text citations and references, as
necessary. You don’t need to make a reference for Freakonomics.
• The works cited page does not count as one of the six pages.
• It must be uploaded to Canvas with less than a 25% similarity index score by 11
p.m. on Sunday, October 13, 2019.
• Only one submission is allowed.
• Late submissions will not be accepted.
You are to choose three of the chapters in Freakonomics as a basis for your essay. The guiding
questions provided below should serve as an outline for the three chapters you choose. Levitt and
Dunbar repeatedly point out that “humans respond to incentives.” Explore the power of
incentives in the overriding theme of your essay. Chapter 1: “What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?”
Chapter one deals with cheating, societal mores, and economic incentives. Thoroughly discuss
the economic incentives that cause usually honest/moral people to cheat. Choose two of the
situations discussed in the chapter: tardy parents, sumo wrestlers and/or school teachers.
Thoroughly explain what the two groups that you have chosen have in common, what their
economic incentives are/were, whether these incentives succeeded or failed, and why.
Additionally, provide an example of cheating that you have personally witnessed (friend,
someone you know, family member, etc.) for economic or other incentives, and discuss why this
occurred, whether it was successful and how, or, if not, what were the adverse consequences of
this action.
Chapter 2: “How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real Estate Agents?”
Chapter two deals with the concept of “information asymmetry” and its effect on society.
Explain this concept and how the authors connect it throughout the chapter to the groups listed:
Ku Klux Klan, Real-Estate Agents, and “The Weakest Link”. In your opinion, how is
“information asymmetry” ethical or unethical? Furthermore, in the hierarchy of our society, how
does “information asymmetry” impact our capitalist foundation? In your own life, how have you
been a perpetrator or victim of “information asymmetry”? Use examples from the chapter to
support your response.
Chapter 3: “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?”
In Chapter three, Freakonomics tackles the subject of conventional wisdom and, in providing
information from a study about drug dealers, argues that often the conventional wisdom is
simply not true. The chapter in turn dispels much of our knowledge regarding the drug trade.
Using examples from the text, explain how J.T. and the Black Disciples are similar to a franchise
like McDonald’s? How is the drug trade similar to the hierarchy in the American business world?
Explain how incentives differ for the upper management of a drug ring and lower “foot
soldiers?”
Chapter 4: “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?”
Chapter 4 deals with the lowering of the crime rate in America, in all categories of crime, during
the late 1970s and early 1980s. Various diverse theories have been proposed as to the drop in the
crime rate, with numerous elected and judicial officials claiming credit due to their actions
and/or plans for reducing crime. The authors indicate a completely different reason for the crime
rate being lowered. Their proposal is controversial, raised many eyebrows, and is often rejected
by other economists and officials. Explain thoroughly what the authors’ theory is for the
lowering of the crime rate, provide statistics from the chapter to support their argument, and then
thoroughly analyze their theory: Do you agree or disagree with their idea? Why or why not? Chapter 5: “What Makes a Perfect Parent?”
In Chapter 5, the authors argue that research refutes the conventional wisdom held by most
parents that what a parent does makes a difference in whether a child succeeds. When looking at
statistical data over a period of time, what does “correlation” mean? How is it different from
“causation”? Explain an example from your where you have observed “correlation” being
confused with “causation.” Describe, in general terms, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study
(ECLS)? Who conducted it, who was the target of the study, and what was the purpose of the
study? According to the data developed from this study, what is more important regarding a
child’s success on standardized tests: what a parent does for a child or what a parent is? In your
opinion, what might be an explanation for such a strange conclusion? Do you believe this
conclusion accurately expresses “causation”?
Chapter 6: “A Roshanda by Any Other Name”
Chapter six covers the first thing a parent ever does for their children: naming them. The author’s
major question is if names (as in the instances of Winner, Loser, and Temptress) are merely a
curiosity or if a name has something larger to say about names and culture. A large study was
conducted using California birth records, and these records showed that there was a tight
correlation between how a name sounds and how that person did in life. What do the authors
have to say about this correlation? Do you agree? Fully explain the author’s theory and use
examples from the book to support their argument. Do you agree or disagree with their idea?
Why or why not?