Thoughts and quotes from “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Numbers tend to lie less badly than people do.

Freakonomics

I am little behind the curve on this one. The book was originally published in 2005. I have heard it referenced many times thought the years. I finally read it in 2019.

I enjoyed this book a lot. In fact, it made me wonder if I had missed my intended calling as a psychiatry-economics-sociologist. The book takes on multiple sets of assumptions and asks, “Is common thought, factual thought?” or “Is there a better explanation for this?”

Here are a few of the quotes I noted along the way:

  • Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work – whereas economics represents how it actually does work.
  • Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. And understanding them – or, often, ferreting them out – is the key to solving just about any riddle.
  • The conventional wisdom is often wrong.
  • Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle causes.
  • There is nothing like the sheer power of numbers to scrub away layers of confusion and contradiction.
  • An incentive is simply a means of urging people to do more of a good thing and less of a bad thing.
  • There are three basic flavors of incentive: economic, social, and moral.
  • “A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for.” – W. C. Fields
  • Just because a question has never been asked does not make it good.
  • Immutable law of labor: when there are a lot of people willing and able to do a job, that job doesn’t pay well.
  • “The risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are very different” – Peter Sandman
  • “Risks that you control are much less a source of outrage than risks that are our of your control.” – Peter Sandman
  • Numbers tend to lie less badly than people do.

“The Ruler’s Guide” by Chinghua Tang

The Ruler's Guide

There are many good beginnings, but few food endings.

After a discussion on leadership, this book was given to me by a friend and co-worker – David Cable. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and would recommended to anyone interested in fundamental, practical leadership principles.

We all know that getting to the top is difficult and staying there is even harder. Through the years great empires faced a 4 century lifecycle.  This 400 year lifespan has played out many times over throughout history. Given that the United States is about 240 years down this path, one can conclude that we are most likely on the downhill path toward a major fall.

While history is a good teacher, I do not believe it serves as an infallible prophet of all things to come. Is it possible to break this cycle? Can a world leader survive?

Beyond that, can any entity sustain at the peak beyond the historic cycles? Continue reading ““The Ruler’s Guide” by Chinghua Tang”

Thoughts on Fear and the Future

I came across a quote today. It comes at a time in life when I have trouble looking to the future with faith. All my past experiences lead me to understand that God is faithful in all things and that He desires to prosper me and my family to His glory. This review of personal history should provide ultimate confidence in the steps I am taking. However, I find myself lying sleepless with fear of future failure.

When the past becomes more glorious than the future, we’ve got a problem.

– Greg DePriest Continue reading “Thoughts on Fear and the Future”