I'm a sucker for this kind of thing --- the statistics of the everyday. I'll probably have to pick up this book eventually. This interview wasn't as good as I would have hoped, but here are some interesting tidbits.
Notes from NPR, Motley Fool, Talking 'Freakonomics' with Steven Levitt
Author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side of Everything.
- Freakonomics takes the tools of economics and applies them in places where people don't look.
- Realtors, when they sell their own houses, get about 2-3% more for them, and take longer to do it.
- When realtors say things like "spacious" or "great neighborhood", those are empty words that don't mean anything. When they actually describe things about the house, that's a good sign. "well-maintained" is code word for "crappy house."
- A lot of drug dealers live with their parents. Much like a modern corporation, the guys at the top are making big salaries, but the guys at the bottom are living with their parents.
- When a day care in Israel instituted fines for late pickups, the number of late pickups went up! Because it turned showing up late into something that was somewhat acceptable --- the fine was low --- where previously it was an informal/moral wrong.
- Paul Feldman's (sp?) bagels --- put a lock box with a box of bagels near offices, and asked people to put money in the box on the honor system. People by and large are pretty honest. About 90% of the money he expects to get shows up in the lockbox. After 9/11, people became much more honest. The big offices tend to steal more. Bad weather is bad for payment. Stressful holidays are bad for payment.
- If you're going to bet on horses, do it in Hong Kong.
- The markets are 99.9% efficient, but that 0.1% that is inefficient might allow you to make some money. But, overall, it's hard to beat the market and is best thought of as an enjoyable pastime.