Book Review: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner


I think I forgot to mention that I finished Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I haven’t started the sequel “Superfreakonomics”  yet but the first one, well, it started out really interesting but I kind of lost their logic at the end. The book is a collaboration between a “rogue” economist, Levitt, and a writer, Dubner, about trying to discount “common wisdom” and idées reçus with economic analysis and they reach some interesting and also bizarre conclusions. It starts out interesting about cheating which links teachers – perhaps the most interesting study in the book – and sumo wrestlers. The irony here is that in Japan just this year (several years after the publication of the book), the sumo match-fixing has come public and they have even been reduced to giving tickets away for free because the Japanese were so disillusioned with the revelations of corruption and links with the yakuza. Anyway, there are also interesting articles about drug dealers and real estate agents. They also talked about the Klu Klux Klan and mentioned an interesting person, Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated that organization way back when. What they forgot to mention about him is that he actually ran for president once on an independent ticket for justice – I know that because Billy Bragg and Wilco covered the Woody Guthrie song about Stetson Kennedy on their Mermaid Avenue album (an absolute must if you don’t have it!). Then you hit the controversial section where they blame the sudden drop of crime in the 90s to abortion. I suppose that they could be right and the hypothesis is certainly interesting but I think they were going more for shock value than literary or economic value in the “1 baby equals 8 abortions” – at least I couldn’t really see where they wanted to go with that. Towards the end also, I felt that it starts to wander a bit. I didn’t know what the point they wanted to make actually was in belittling the names that african-americans give to their kids and couldn’t really see the link they were trying to make with grades and stuff. While it is a fascinating read – particularly the first three chapters – the end was a bit, well, confusing to be honest. I hope that Superfreakonomics will keep a more even rhythm.


OK so enough blather. I think Burn Notice might be the funnier alternative here with perhaps a dose of Episodes or Shameless thrown in. Enjoy your weekend, dear reader 🙂


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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One Response to Book Review: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

  1. Pingback: What Season Should I List My Home? « Harrisburg Real Estate Weblog

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