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Freakonomics (2010)Freakonomics (2010)

           If you've never read the best seller book (four million copies sold) of the same title by Steven Levitt (an economist from University of Chicago) and Stephen Dubner (a journalist), this 90-minute documentary might be an adequate substitute. As an economist, Levitt isn't so much interested in finance or money, but instead any large data set that he can slice-n-dice for patterns or deviations. This allows him to explore things as diverse as real estate, parenting, cheating in sumo wrestling, a drop in crimes rates, and whether you can bribe kids to succeed in school. Some of their conclusions are obvious, others are controversial, like the claim that Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions, decreased the number of unwanted kids who would be more likely candidates to commit crime. The basic take away? Incentives matter, whether financial, moral, or social, and the relationship between cause, effect, connection, and correlation is very complex.

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