September 16, 2015 · 8:36 am
source: Time Magazine
Every one of us engages on a journey to find love and companionship. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection and truly love. This journey seems fairly standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago…. Some of our problems are unique to our time. ‘Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?’ ‘Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos!!?’
I think most of us know Aziz Ansari from either his role as Tom Haverford on the brilliant Parks and Recreation or for his stand-up comedy. However, it is his latest project, Modern Romance, that brings us here today.
Much of his last comedy special (sadly only available on Netflix) focused on how technology has changed dating, for better or worse. During the show, he invites a brave audience member to the stage in order to share the text messages they were exchanging with someone they were interested in dating. Often, those exchanges started as flirting, fun messages but most quickly fizzled out to nothing. These interactions plus his own dating ups and downs led to this book.
He smartly paired with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, a professor at NYU, and dove into a year-long research expedition. They interviewed people around the world – New York City, Los Angeles, Wichita, Monroe (NY), Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, and Doha. The participants, from young singles to residents in an assisted living apartment building, are incredibly honest about their experiences and offered glimpses into their text messages, online dating profiles, and e-mails. They also developed essentially a massive online focus groups with forums on reddit. Beyond all of these primary sources, they worked with a number of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and journalists (whew!) who have spent their careers studying dating and relationships.
It’s legit research. And beyond that, incredibly interesting to explore how the culture of dating has changed so much over the past forty or so years. We’ve moved from marrying the guy from across the street to hoping someone normal answers our newspaper ad to swiping left or right on phone apps. Ansari makes the information easy to digest and entirely relatable, as he offers his own experiences dating through his twenties and meeting his current girlfriend.
— Jess, modern romantic
Bonus Aziz: His interview with Freakanomics Radio about the book.
June 25, 2014 · 5:00 am
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned
lies and statistics.”
I established in another post that I hate school. It partly stems from my dismal mathematical abilities. I wanted to understand calculus. I wanted to understand chemistry formulas. In college, I even took Basic Applied Statistics. After three minutes of lecture I wanted to puke on my shoes. I had no idea what was happening. Yet, I persist in reading books about math and physics and economics, even if I don’t always understand them.
Thankfully, the rockstar economists (Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner) who brought you the ground-breaking Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (as well as the movie and weekly podcast) have come out with a new book that will retrain your brain to think about economics and statistics creatively, productively, and sans math skills.
For example: remember the “Year of the Shark” in 2001? During that entire year, there were 68 shark attacks, 4 of which were fatal. Four in a world of 6 BILLION people. Elephants kill at least 200 people every year, but we never hear about the “Year of the Elephant” (International Shark Attack File if you’re really that interested in shark attacks).
Or see the math that proves drunk walking is far more dangerous than drunk driving. In one of my favorite chapters, find out why a “street prostitute is like a department store santa” (hint: it involves spikes in demand).
Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics are about recognizing the tricks in statistics and economics. Yes, elephants kill more people yearly but elephants don’t have an image problem. Unless you consider Dumbo or Babar “too” cute. And, yes, on a per mile basis, drunk walking is more dangerous. Does that mean the next time you drink too much whiskey you should go on a joyride or become a seasonal prostitute? Probably not. So the first two books focused on the magic behind the numbers. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain instead wants you to recognize your attitude toward these numbers, in a local and global context. Some advice from the book includes:
- Think like a child.
- Never be afraid to say “I don’t know.”
- Be prepared for a really, really simple answer.
- Get rid of your moral compass.
- And, seriously, never forget incentives. Ever. It’s a thing in economics.
Along the way, you’ll learn about hot dog eating competitions (Kobayashi!) and why those pesky Nigerian scammers will never, ever give up. Learn when to break up and discover that David Lee Roth isn’t being a diva when he wants his brown M&Ms removed.
Finally, find out here why there is no such thing as a free appetizer and why Americans just aren’t into soccer (Be prepared to waste some serious time on this website. The questions are better than Dear Abby!).
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Tagged as demand, Dubner, economics, elephant attacks, Freakonomics, hot dog competitions, incentives, Kobayashi, Levitt, math, podcasts, shark attacks, sociology, statistics, Superfreakonomics, Suzy, Think Like a Freak