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The flaw of “common knowledge” exposed by data September 4, 2008

Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
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It took me 3 years to realize the value of Freakonomics, the book published in 2005 by the economist Steven Levitt and journalist/author Stephen Dubner. But fortunately I noticed it on the Books on CD shelf at the Sharon Public Library and I took it out. The affect of listening to this book is similar to what “Slap On The Side of the Head” by Roger von Oech did for me the first time I read it. You begin to question what we all too often take for “common sense.” Perhaps we were too quick in accepting the opinions of the majority – who have not thought about the issue?

Take for instance, car seats. HUGE improvement to auto safety for children, right? Levitt looked at data from 45,000 auto accidents involving a death and realized there was proof within those data that car seats were not adding appreciably to the safety of children strapped within them. Check out his presentation on TED Talks, either on the TED website or on iTunes, it will make you wonder.

While you are there (either at the site or on iTunes), check out the presentation by Mark Bittman entitled “What’s Wrong With What We Eat?

Enjoy! Life is for learning – constantly.

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