The Freakonomics series has been a game changer when it comes to innovative thinking. In 2005, the unique collaboration between author Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven D. Levitt produced the ground-breaking work Freakonomics, which sold over 5.5 million copies in more than 40 languages. The series has a unique approach that combines personal narratives with unconventional analysis to explore the benefits of thinking outside the box. The authors’ approach has revolutionized thought processes and changed the boundaries of possibility for citizens all over the world. In this article, we will explore the pivotal lessons that we can take from the Freakonomics series and how they can be applied in our everyday lives.
1. You can say ‘I Don’t Know’
One of the significant themes throughout the Freakonomics series is that the majority of issues are more complex than they initially seem. We often fail to acknowledge this fact, creating a learning gap that can affect us negatively as we grow older. This is where the latest book in the series, Think like a Freak, comes in. It has an entire chapter dedicated to encouraging individuals to say ‘I don’t know’ more frequently, opening up their minds to new information and understanding. This is particularly important when discussing environmental issues, as individuals who dig in their heels on one side of the debate without a comprehensive understanding of the topic in question often do more harm than good.
2. You can think small and still succeed
Another essential lesson that the Freakonomics series teaches us is not to abandon our childlike instincts as we grow older. Children’s capacity for open-mindedness and curiosity enables them to absorb information easily and think small and without inhibition to conceive viable solutions for problems. The brand Pokerstars demonstrates this kind of thinking by employing hard-working and renowned sporting legends such as Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal as brand ambassadors. By selecting a relatively simple and bold solution to a problematic marketing issue, the brand has embraced childlike instincts to achieve success.
3. You can live with risk easier than regret
One of the most persuasive arguments forward by the entire Freakonomics series is that risk represents an easier burden to carry than regret. The latter occurs as a result of failing to take a chance due to fear or an innate sense of inhibition. Risk-takers may ultimately succeed or fail, but they have a clear conscience and the knowledge that they have at least tried to achieve their goals. It may be worth re-evaluating the decision-making process while making a decision and considering which option you would end up regretting if you failed to take it.
4. You can flip a coin to make important decisions
For complex decisions that affect you and others, such as relocating or changing careers, your thought process is likely to be confused and convoluted. In these instances, flipping a coin can be an excellent way of helping you to achieve clarity and choose a finite path. This theory was tested on a website called Freakonomics Experiments, inviting visitors to share their dilemmas and offered to flip a coin on their behalf. The intuitive sense of clarity and insight that the coin toss brings makes it inconsequential. Individuals can then make an informed decision based on the intuitive sense of clarity that the exercise provides.
5. You can conduct a ‘premortem’ when considering options
Balancing thoughtfulness and over-analysis is crucial when making decisions. The authors of Think like a Freak reference a theory forwarded by leading psychologist Gary Klein. Using something that he refers to as a “premortem,” individuals can give careful consideration to their upcoming decision, creating clarity rather than confusion. More specifically, by thinking ahead to the future and imagining your decision has produced little but absolute failure, you can pinpoint precisely where issues are likely to occur and how easy it will be to avoid them.
6. You can disregard the majority of conventional wisdom
In Freakonomics, the authors discussed the concept of conventional wisdom at length, concluding that it is generally either wrong or biased towards the views of the writer. The experts who generate conventional wisdom are inclined to use their knowledge and informational advantage to articulate their agenda or express an informed opinion. It can also be used to create sensationalism about a social or political issue, which cannot be taken at face value.
7. You can be sure that correlation does not always mean causation
As the Freakonomics series continues, the authors have shifted focus from economics to social sciences. The core principle that correlation does not always imply causation remains fundamental. It is often thought that when two variables change in the same way at the same time, one automatically prompts the evolution. In any case where two or more variables in your life begin to change simultaneously, it is always worth addressing the circumstances on their own merit and identifying any other factors that may be responsible.
8. You can become too preoccupied with end results rather than the process of achieving them
Dubner references his own radio show in the latest book, saying that he is often disturbed at how fans evaluate an event or debate and “look at its conclusion rather than the process of getting there.” While we may already have a predetermined idea of what constitutes a successful conclusion, it is essential not to overlook the importance of the process of how we got there.
The Freakonomics series is a groundbreaking masterpiece, converting conventional wisdom on its head and creating a blueprint for thinking outside the box. It has developed a fanbase that identifies entirely new methods of solving problems, whether on an individual level or major global reforms. In this article, we explored the eight ways that you can think outside the box like Freakonomics. Incorporating these eight lessons will help you develop innovative approaches to problem-solving and set a new precedent for success.