Freakonomics Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Steven Levitt
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Which two groups are the most discriminated against on Weakest Link?

2. What unethical practice are Atlanta police discovered to have undertaken throughout the 1990s?

3. Which of the following is not a group persecuted by the Klan in the twentieth century?

4. At what preeminent university does Venkatesh meet Steven Levitt?

5. What percentage of the vote does an incumbent candidate lose on average if he spends half as much money in his second campaign?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the nature of discrimination on The Weakest Link?

2. How does Venkatesh get his hands on JT's financial records?

3. What argument do the authors make about experts?

4. Why would a foot soldier risk death or arrest in a gang that pays him less than minimum wage for his labor?

5. What unorthodox theory do the authors offer regarding the drop in crime in the late 1990s?

6. How do the authors show that money spent does not affect election results?

7. Why had Chicago public schools already been standardized testing for years before No Child Left Behind?

8. How are nylon stockings and crack cocaine similar?

9. How is a sumo wrestler's life affected by his ranking?

10. According to the authors, what motivates everyone?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Dubner and Levitt regularly analyze "consumer patterns" in American culture. This allows them to see how trends shift from group to group - particularly between socioeconomic groups - and what this says about societal influences. Write an essay about consumer trends in two parts:

Part 1) How are nylon stockings similar to crack cocaine? To what extent is each a more affordable and mass-produced version of a luxury good? Explain in this section how both of these products represent a trend shift from high-end consumers to low-end consumers.

Part 2) How are child names a commodity that regularly move from one group to another? What are the driving forces behind the national trends regarding baby names? How do baby names shift from one group to another?

Essay Topic 2

Write an essay about the final realization at the end of FREAKONOMICS that the two hypothetical children in Chapter 5 are Roland G. Fryer, Jr., and Ted Kaczynski. How does this realization fit in with the overall fatalism of the FREAKONOMICS view of human life? Are either or these figures typical of their upbringing? What, statistically, should have become of them based on their childhoods?

Essay Topic 3

Levitt states throughout FREAKONOMICS that the guiding force behind all systemic trends are incentives. A person or group acts according to what they believe they can gain. Write an essay about incentives in three parts:

Part 1) What incentive does a real estate agent have fore selling a house at a lower price? Doesn't she receive a larger commission if the house goes for more money? Does she have different selling practices regarding her own house?

Part 2) What incentive would a professional sumo wrestler have for throwing a fight? How does the ranking system of the sumo wrestling league create this incentive? How does cheating create a situation where everyone benefits?

Part 3) The authors detail in Chapter 3 the ways in which a crack-gang like the Black Gangster Disciple Nation offers little in the way of compensation to most of its members. Why do so many young urban men join? What incentive do they perceive in the gang and its dangerous activity?

(see the answer keys)

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