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Book club with a twist: 'Think Like a Freak' with these guys

WNYC Radio brings you the Think Like a Freak Book Club with authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics fame.
WNYC Radio brings you the Think Like a Freak Book Club with authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics fame.
Courtesy of Audrey Bernstein and Harper Collins, William Morrow Publishing

If joining a book club is your kind of thing then I have a fun one to tell you about. This particular reading club is an online adventure, so it will not cost you anything monetarily, unless you want to donate to the radio program that partners with the club, which is known as Freakonomics Radio, or you want to buy the book instead of borrowing it from the library.

Former New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner and Economist Steven D. Levitt engage book fans with new book club on Freakonomics Radio.
Courtesy of Harper Collins and William Morrow Publishing

June 26, 2014 marked the first day of the Think Like a Freak book club, so you are not too late to get in on the action, and you can still read the online transcript for the first meeting, or you can listen to the book club meeting discussion audio here.

For those who prefer someone to just give them the gist of the event in 500 words or less, here goes. Book authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, and now their latest book Think Like a Freak, hung out in their WNYC radio studio answering some questions from their book fans about the first three chapters of their third book.

Those chapters boast these titles: What does it mean to think like a freak? The three hardest words in the English language (I don't know), and What's Your Problem? (You've got to properly define it to get the right solution, they say).

In regards to the first chapter, Andrea Kate Crary in North Dakota wanted the authors to tell her "if there was a way to reset my brain's default position?" since in the most recent publication by Dubner and Levitt they say people need to think more like they do, and that means thinking like a freak.

For those who have not read Levitt and Dubner's Think Like a Freak best seller just released May 2014 (and you may not have been one of the five million people who read their first book Freakonomics), the term "freak" has nothing to do with scary weird or irrational, as one might suspect.

Instead, the term is an unusual way of labeling a thought process that others would refer to as "thinking outside the box" or thinking like that master sleuth Sherlock Holmes might think, where you really ponder a problem and come up with a unique way of looking at it in order to find a solution.

So Andrea wanted the guys to tell her just how to think like a freak, since she basically feels her mind runs on autopilot. And Mr. Economics Czar (Steven Levitt) gave her this answer in response (I'm condensing it for the sake of brevity, but you can read the transcript for the full understanding):

Part of thinking is just finding the quiet time to do it," Levitt says, recommending Andrea and others file away thoughts throughout the day they might want to think about later, when they have time to do so uninterrupted. Pull those thoughts from your memory later, when you are doing a benign household chore, like folding clothes, which also gives you quiet time to really think, he says.

According to the economist author, you will want to "engage your brain...a little bit at a time," because he doesn't think your expectations should be very high when you first start trying to think in this deeper way. In fact, he admits that he and his writing partner Stephen Dubner typically only come up with one or two good ideas a year, despite how much time they spend thinking. So ease into this new thinking method slowly, with zero expectations.

Sounds simple enough, but there's a lot more to this topic, and there's even more to this first book club transcript. But I don't want to spoil it for you, as you need to listen to it yourself to decide if thinking like a freak is what you want to do--and if it can be the solution to the problems and questions troubling you in your life.

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