There's been a run of pop-science books lately which attempt to explain the mysteries of life in easy-to-understand terms. Nearly all that I've seen are ignorance talking to ignorance. "Freakonomics" is the exception.
While Steven D. Levitt is an economist, He doesn't cloak his profession with murky terms and obscure mathematics. Rather he looks at economics as a way to explain how the world works. And he and co-author Stephen J. Dubner are quite successful at this.
The writing style is breezy and the amount of detail provided is, frankly, sparse. But there's enough meat to put the concept across. For example, why did Chicago schoolteachers scheme to inflate their students testing scores even though it harms the children? Why do street-level crack dealers ply their trade despite some very real dangers and the possibility of earning more by working at McDonald's? Why are realtors not to be trusted in securing the best deal for you when selling your home?
The most controversial theory advanced is that legalized abortion played a major part in the reduction of the crime rate during the 1990s beceause the babies who would have been most likely to grow up as criminals simply weren't born. Anyone who is familiar with the statistics knows this, but many people view Levitt's theory as being politically incorrect. They don't have anything better to offer and they can't refute it, but they still call Levitt names.
Overall this is plain fun reading. Just how much it has to do with economics is arguable. Also debateable is whether it educates the public about economics and the economist's role. I don't think it does either, but it sure succeeds in illuminating areas of human endeavor that most of us don't think about.
Freakonomics is a refreshing, thoroughly enjoyable, easy reading, fast paced, witty and cynical breath of fresh air! Levitt and Dubner offer up a series of pointed, thought provoking essays composed in jargon-free layman's language that are loosely connected through a theme revealed in the book's sub-title - the hidden side of everything! Incentives, or disincentives and deterrents, are examined as to their effectiveness in achieving the outcomes anticipated by those … more
This book gave me alot of insight about things that I never would have thought about. The story about Drug Dealers living with their mothers makes you really think about how things are so superficial on the outside, but if you look closer and examine them you will be very surprised!
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. InFreakonomics(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 inThe New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written. In a book filled with bold ...