Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner shows how statistics can be used to explain a wide range of phenomena or maybe even EVERYTHING that people do in the world. Levitt and Dubner base their analysis of the world on three basic flavors of incentive: Economic, social and moral incentives. A combination of these incentives explains all human behavior, according to the authors. And they use numbers to prove it. Most importantly, they manage to do that in an easy to understand way. This way, they explain for example what schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common, and why drug dealers still live with their moms.
Benjamin Disraeli once said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Levitt and Dubner show how to broaden one’s view and to poke through them.
You can buy this entertaining and insightful paperback at Amazon (UK): Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. There is also a successor to this apparently successful book. (Or is offering a successor a way to show that a book is successful and therefore worth buying in the first place? If you like asking this kind of questions, you’ll like at least the original.) I didn’t read the successor yet, but not surprising it’s also on Amazon: Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance.