Levitt Freakonomics Chapter Summary

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Hanxin Liu Mrs. Dooley AP Language and Comp. 28q August 2014 Below the Surface of Modern Life “Freakonomics” has been widely criticized for being more so about criminology and/or sociology than actual economics. It contains topics that are considered controversial and offensive like race discrimination, abortions, etc. Steven D. Levitt states that the rationale behind “Freakonomics” is, “to strip away a layer or two from the surface of modern life and see what is happening underneath.” Though the book has no underlying theme, but there is a common thread: conventional wisdom is often full of misunderstandings, since one does not look into the motivations behind a situation to find the truth. Levitt compares the controversial to the norm with…show more content…
Though, on the surface there is no real connection, “strip a layer or two from the surface” and they both have something in common. In 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind law which included that the federal government now had to mandate high-stakes testing. In 1996, the Chicago Public School system had already embraced the high-stakes testing. In order to be promoted, every student in the third, sixth, and eighth grade had to manage a minimum score on the standardized exam. The advocates of the high-stakes testing argued that it would give students more of an incentive to study and do well on these tests. It would also prevent academically poor students from advancing so they wouldn’t burden the higher grades and slow down the good students. Students have always had the incentive to cheat as long as tests have been around, but now with the high-stakes testing, teachers now had a new incentive to cheat as well. A teacher with students who test poorly can be censured or passed over for a raise/promotion. If an entire school does poorly then federal funding can be withheld; if a school is put on probation, teachers could be fired. On a positive note, if a teacher’s students test well, he/she could receive rewards like a promotion. A teacher, with the motivation to cheat, could cheat in many ways. They could simply write the answers on the board for their students to see, peek at the test so they could “teach to the test”, or maybe even change the answers for them after they’ve handed it in. The incentive for the teacher is simply to keep their job and maybe receive a bonus of some sort. Sumo wrestlers have a similar incentive. A sumo wrestler is ranked based on his performance in the elite tournaments that are held six times a year. If a wrestler finishes the tournament with a winning record, his ranking rises. If he has a losing record, it falls, and can eventually boot him from

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