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Freakonomics

"Freakonomics is overrated"

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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything is a 2005 non-fiction book by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. The book has been described as melding pop culture with economics. By late 2009, it had sold over 4 million copies worldwide. [1]

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Freakonomics is hardly about economics. Rather, it employs economic theories and experiments to analyze social phenomenom. It wins mainly by having a great book title and good marketing. The book presents sometimes misleading data and draws inconclusive conclusion, thus begging the question of what is omitted rather than what is presented.

  • Chapter 1: Discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers, as well as a typical Washington DC area bagel business and its customers
  • Chapter 2: Information control as applied to the Ku Klux Klan and real-estate agents
  • Chapter 3: The economics of drug dealing, including the surprisingly low earnings and abject working conditions of crack cocaine dealers
  • Chapter 4: The role legalized abortion has played in reducing crime, contrasted with the policies and downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu (Levitt explored this topic in an earlier paper entitled "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.")
  • Chapter 5: The negligible effects of good parenting on education
  • Chapter 6: The socioeconomic patterns of naming children (nominative determinism)
  • Some chapters are less than surprising than others. For example, the results in chapter 1 are not unexpected, since it a sports team, in this case a sumo wrestler that has clinched a spot in the advanced round would have no reason to go all in against an opponent who hasn't yet. It's nice to actually see the statistics, however.

    All in all, I'm not terribly impressed with Freakonomics. I think it's overrated.

    on December 28, 2014
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    Freakonomics

    Freakonomics is overrated
    Book rating: 69 out of 100 with 1 ratings