Battlepanda: Freakanomics


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


UPDATE: I notice that a lot of people are directed to this post via google search for 'Freakanomics'. This is because I misspelt the name of the book when I wrote this post. You actually want to be searching for 'Freakonomics'. Consider this a PSA.

The guys who wrote Freakanomics have a blog. They're probably just keeping it up to promote the book, but it's updated decently often and interesting. I am champing at the bit to read this book. Alas, the book haven't even hit the shelves yet and I'm already fifth in line at the library (the wonder of electronic holds). From the website:
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?


What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and - if the right questions are asked - is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter. Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: if morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.
Here's an interview Steven Levitt (one of the authors) did with Scott Simon of NPR. Go listen. And, like so many other economically-related topics, I first heard about Freakonomics from Brad DeLong.