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How to 'Think Like a Freak': The new behavioral economist profilers

The authors of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics brings you Think Like a Freak in 2014.
The authors of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics brings you Think Like a Freak in 2014.
Courtesy of William Morrow and HarperCollins Publishing

Thinking like a freak may sound a bit too radical for you, or you may not realize how the Freakonomics guys can help you to do it--or worse, you may not have even heard of them. But on Thursday you have your chance to better understand this new phenomena and book topic by listening to the June 19 Freakonomics Radio Podcast titled "There's No Such Thing as a Free Appetizer."

The once-a-week public radio podcast introduces new listeners to the men who have created a whole new way of thinking with their books, at least for a great number of folks. The radio podcast site also provides past Freakonomic book buyers with an online venue to keep up with the latest news from the two authors, while also giving car drivers and others something fun to think about and listen to as they commute or deal with life's day-to-day issues.

But the latest book brainchild from journalist Stephen J. Dubner (who used to be a story editor for The New York Times magazine), and Steven Levitt (the summa cum laude Harvard University economics graduate that went on to get his Ph.D in the field from MIT), is titled Think Like a Freak.

This is the duo's third book. Their first book was, as you might expect, titled Freakonomics, which was published in 2005 and reportedly sold 5.5 million copies. It was followed in 2009 by the publication of their second book Superfreakonomics, which they say, to date, has sold 1.5 million copies. And in 2014, they unveiled this third book, Think Like a Freak, which currently holds the No. 4 position on the New York Times Best Sellers List for June 22, 2014 in the Hardcover Nonfiction section.

And that's where the Atlanta Top News Examiner comes into the picture, reaching out to their publishing house William Morrow (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) to request a review copy after seeing this book make it on the prestigious top books list. This Examiner seeks to keep readers informed and up-to-date on all things current, including these behavioral economist profilers (Her name for them), as they appear to be an ever-growing pop culture movement.

On June 17 CBC Radio, Canada's national public radio broadcaster, spoke with one of the authors during The Lang and O'Leary Exchange program to discuss their most recently published book. Following are a couple of excerpts from that interview, which has Dubner explaining how he and Levitt dealt with the influx of mail that followed the publication of their first two books (in which people were constantly asking them about this problem and that, and their take on it). And also has him discussing how those questions motivated them to write their third book, which they tailored less as a "here's what we know" and more of a "here's how you can know this stuff yourself" focus.

The man who "explores the hidden side of everything" said he and his economist friend Steven Levitt wondered, "what if we could...write a book that would sort of deputize the world (or whoever in the world wants to) to think like us, and to lay down the rules."

And so we decided to write a very kind of practical book, that's almost a tool kit for looking at the world a little bit differently, asking a different kind of question than we typically do; seeking out data to solve questions and, hopefully, coming up with some better, more creative ways to solve problems," Stephen Dubner said.

The CBC Radio host of The Lang and O'Leary Exchange hits on the behavioral aspect of the book, telling Dubner "you can completely see readers, having read your books, sort of seeing the combination of economics and behavioral economics and behavioral psychology (at play) and saying, great, but who do I use this, how do I change my behavior?"

And therein lies the heart of the matter: Will readers be able to come away from time spent in the pages of William Morrow Publisher's Think Like a Freak and then be able to think like this award-winning journalist and his MIT- and Harvard-educated economist co-author? Who knows, but one thing's for sure: Readers can always tune into the radio podcast each week, after submitting their question to the authors. And then they may find out what they wanted to know that way. But this behavioral forensic profiler is already "getting" the book and she's loving it.

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