Think Like a Freak


Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain

  1. Thinking like a Freak
    • Trying to think more creatively and rationally
    • Viewing things from different angles and with different expectations
    • Hard to do because existing biases and herd mentality
  2. I Don’t Know
    • Hard to really understand complicated things
    • Studies on expert predictions have shown, experts are not very good at predicting
    • People wrong but still massively over-confident
    • Cost of not knowing is worse than being wrong
    • Moral compass can distort what the actual issue is
    • embrace spirit of experimentation, randomized control trials
    • obvious facts only obvious after the fact
  3. What’s the problem? Find the Root
    • Wrong question guarantees wrong answer
    • Focus is on what bothers us. e.g. education, but not parenting
    • Redefine the problem e.g. Kobiyashi meticulously analyzed ways to get more hot dogs eaten, created new technique, doubled previous world record
    • Often times people focus on symptoms not the cause
    • Conventional wisdom dies hard
  4. Think Like a Child
    • Preconceptions rule out huge set of solutions
    • Think small; all big problems have been thought about already
    • Don’t be afraid to ask about the obvious, most insiders scared to
    • Must have a good time doing what you do to become good
  5. Incentives
    • Many different types: financial, social, moral, legal
    • Difference between declared preference and revealed. Observe actions not what people say.
    • Three reasons incentives fail
      • no individual or government smarter than everyone trying to game system
      • easy to envision changing your behavior, but not others
      • assumes people will behave consistently
    • Follow these guidelines
      • Figure out what people really care about, not what they say
      • incentivize them on dimensions valuable to them, but cheap for you
      • pay attention to how people respond and learn from it
      • switch frame from adversarial to cooperative
      • never assume people will do “right” thing
      • know people will try to game system, applaud ingenuity
  6. Game Theory
    • King Solomon used to figure out real mother
    • David Lee Roth used to filter out which local promoters were meticulous
    • You can create filters to make people sort themselves out
      • e.g.1 Zappos offers a bonus for people to turn down the job
      • e.g.2 Nigierian scammers target the most gullible
  7. How to Persuade People Whoe Don’t Want to Be Persuaded
    • Best to change subjects
    • Understand its hard, especially smarter people because more confident in what they believe
    • If your logic is airtight, but doesn’t resonate with listener, your fault
    • Don’t pretend your argument is perfect
    • Acknowledge strength of other side’s argument
    • Keep insults to yourself
    • Tell stories and use data to show show story fits into larger scheme
  8. Quitting
    • Three things holding people back
      • Lifetime being told quitting is failure
      • Sunk Cost fallacy
      • Tendency to focus on concrete costs and ignoring opportunity costs
    • Have to understand not all ideas work out, better to fail fast and cheap
    • Premortem technique can help identify what can go wrong and make it okay
    • Authors have quit multiple things
    • Quitting is core of thinking like a freak
    • Let go of artificial limits holding you back
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