Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Steven11 responsesGeneral

Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences. The annual Nobel Prize winner in that field never receives as much publicity as his or her compatriots in peace, literature, or physics. But if such slights are based on the notion that economics is dull, or that economists are concerned only with finance itself, Steven D. Levitt will change some minds.

freakonomics

In Freakonomics (written with Stephen J. Dubner), Levitt argues that many apparent mysteries of everyday life don’t need to be so mysterious: they could be illuminated and made even more fascinating by asking the right questions and drawing connections.

For example, Levitt traces the drop in violent crime rates to a drop in violent criminals and, digging further, to the Roe v. Wade decision that preempted the existence of some people who would be born to poverty and hardship.

Elsewhere, by analyzing data gathered from inner-city Chicago drug-dealing gangs, Levitt outlines a corporate structure much like McDonald’s, where the top bosses make great money while scores of underlings make something below minimum wage.

And in a section that may alarm or relieve worried parents, Levitt argues that parenting methods don’t really matter much and that a backyard swimming pool is much more dangerous than a gun.

These enlightening chapters are separated by effusive passages from Dubner’s 2003 profile of Levitt in The New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written.

In a book filled with bold logic, such back-patting veers Freakonomics, however briefly, away from what Levitt actually has to say. Although maybe there’s a good economic reason for that too, and we’re just not getting it yet.

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11 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I am super intrigued now, I feel like I have to go get that book today! Has anyone ever told you that you’re a great salesman? ;) Great review!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Sarah :)

  2. Gorman

    This book is a fantastic read, and you’ve done stellar job reviewing it. I think it’s great that you’re pushing others to read it too, it’s thought-provoking and will definitely assist in getting the creative writing juices flowing.

    1. Dana

      I’ve been looking for something new to read that will do just that. I think I’m also sold on this book, interesting cover too. Yes, I’m one of those that judges books by their cover, but it’s only books, not anything else. :P

  3. Michelle

    I love when reading about someone who takes the time to take apart and analyze things socially to get a new perspective. It’s always so interesting to see what they find! And how interesting that it’s written by an economist, you would expect like a sociologist or psychologist! I am very eager to read it now!

  4. Jony

    I really enjoyed this book. I really liked the part where he highlights the man who infiltrated the KKK and would pass on all the passwords and rituals to the people writing the superman comics. It really is a fascinating read, and it’s only $4 on amazon. I highly recommend picking it up.

    1. Liz

      Only $4??! Wow, that’s definitely in my budget! My New Year’s resolution to start reading more books is about to kick into high gear! ^_^

  5. Shad

    Read the part about “Why Drug Dealers Live With Their Mothers” That one’s an eye-opener for sure. Made me rethink a lot of things i had made assumptions about.

  6. Chris

    I’ve heard about this book! After reading this review I definitely want to read it now. And it’s only 200 pages so it sounds like a quick read. Thanks!

  7. John

    This book is so far from dull, it’s a super short read with some great insights. So glad you chose to review this book and share with all, it’s a good one for sure.

  8. Affmaster

    I supposed I could make room on my reading list for this one. It sounds very interesting, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’ll just add it to the top of my stack of books to read in my living room!

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