Freakonomics – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

freakonomics.jpg

In Freakonomics, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner turn a spotlight on to some touchy areas – abortion, crack dealers, parenting, the KKK, cheating by school teachers, guns in homes. They present a view that if you remove the lens of morality and how things “should be”, many phenomena can be explained through basic economic principles. I couldn’t agree more. Yet the book is in a word, lightweight. A little over 200 hundred pages and presented in large, easy-to-read print, Freakonomics can be read in a couple of hours. And if you understand anything about economics that you could pick up in a college survey class, you won’t be that surprised by their analysis. I can only think that the reason this book has been on the NYT best seller list is because most people don’t understand the basic tenets of economics.

The author’s assertion that a main contributor to the falling crime rates across the country in the mid 90s was due to unwanted babies not being born twenty years earlier will rankle many, especially conservative Catholics and right-to-lifers. This is not a new theory, nor would I guess Levitt the first person to think of it when his paper on the subject was published in 2001. However, the popularity of Freakonomics may be was gets this theory more out into the mainstream and collective consciousness of this country. By the way, although Levitt presents his theory on crime and abortion almost as if it is “the truth”, it is not a fact, but a theory, albeit one with compelling evidence and arguments.

All in all I was amused and intrigued by much of what is presented in this book but think that it could and should have been twice as long given the cost of the book.

4 thoughts on “Freakonomics – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

  1. Ha, well I did take economics in college but I am sure it would all be new to me (again)! Books like Freakonomics which you start to see everywhere always make me doubtful – maybe this is my contrarian ways! =)

    But I had actualy decided that this one looked like it was worth reading, just haven’t gotten around to it yet… so many books, so little time!

  2. I had to stop reading Freakonomics midway because I simply got bored. Maybe the scheduled chronology of my reading too played some part, as just before it I read On Beauty and after it I was planning to read Shalimar the Clown. I think there is too much text even to explain small things.

  3. I had a copy of Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner mailed to a friend who is incarcerated in the Texas Penal System. The book was denied to him on the grounds that it is a racist book.
    I read the book with interest, but I found nothing in it which could be considered racist. It was, of course, filled with data, statistics and facts about some controversial topics such as Ku Klux Klan, African-Americans, drug dealing, cheating, bout fixing, etc.
    What is your view on racism in the book??

  4. Hello Michael,
    Perhaps calling it a racist book was their way of not letting him have the book. The book is filled with information that would be useful for criminals to be even more effective at criminal activity.