26 Splendid Steven D. Levitt Quotes

Steven Levitt is an American economic best known for his work as an Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Author of ‘Freakonomics’ and several other top economic books, here is a look at some of the most memorable Steven D. Levitt quotes to know.

“A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything.”

“After all, your chances of winning a lottery and of affecting an election are pretty similar. From a financial perspective, playing the lottery is a bad investment.”

“An incentive is a bullet, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.”

“And knowing what happens on average is a good place to start. By so doing, we insulate ourselves from the tendency to build our thinking – our daily decisions, our laws, our governance – on exceptions and anomalies rather than on reality.”

“But as history clearly shows, most people, whether because of nature or nurture, generally put their own interests ahead of others’. This doesn’t make them bad people; it just makes them human.”

“But if they’ve somehow convinced themselves that running regressions or interviewing strangers is the funnest thing in the world, you know they have a shot”


“But wouldn’t it be nice if we all smuggled a few childlike instincts across the border into adulthood? We’d spend more time saying what we mean and asking questions we care about.”

“Colleges and universities, meanwhile, have no such qualms about torturing their applicants. Think about how much work a high-school student must do to even be considered for a spot at a decent college.”

“Deliberate practice has three key components: setting specific goals; obtaining immediate feedback; and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.”

“Don’t listen to what people say; watch what they do.”

“Ideas nearly always seem brilliant when they’re hatched, so we never act on a new idea for at least twenty-four hours.”

“If it takes a lot of courage to admit you don’t know all the answers, just imagine how hard it is to admit you don’t even know the right question.”

“Information is a beacon, a cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent–all depending on who wields it and how.”

“It has long been said that the three hardest words to say in the English language are I love you. We heartily disagree! For most people, it is much harder to say I don’t know.”

“Just because you’re at the office is no reason to stop thinking.”

“Levitt admits to having the reading interests of a tweener girl, the Twilight series and Harry Potter in particular.”

“Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work, wheareas economics represents how it actually does work.”

“Most of us want to fix or change the world in some fashion. But to change the world, you first have to understand it.”

“One thing we’ve learned is that when people, especially politicians, start making decisions based on a reading of their moral compass, facts tend to be among the first casualties.”

“Social scientists sometimes talk about the concept of “identity”. It is the idea that you have a particular vision of the kind of person you are, and you feel awful when you do things that are out of line with that vision.”

“Solving a problem is hard enough; it gets that much harder if you’ve decided beforehand it can’t be done.”

“The conventional wisdom is often wrong.”

“The key to learning is feedback. It is nearly impossible to learn anything without it.”

“The swimming pool is almost 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.”

“When people don’t pay the true cost of something, they tend to consume it inefficiently.”

“Why do so many frown so sternly at the idea of having fun? Perhaps out of fear that it connotes you aren’t serious. But best as we can tell, there is no correlation between appearing to be serious and actually being good at what you do.”

Here is one presentation featuring Steven Levitt as the speaker where he talks about some of the top economic topics of today.