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January 6, 2006

Book review: Freakonomics


I just finished a great book - Freakonomics! I was reading this book on the bus on the way to the airport, on my way to France to visit a friend. As my friend got on the bus, I greeted her with: "Hi!!! This book is so good!" When asked what it was about, I replied: "Well, there's this economist..." I could see her lose interest instantaneously. So here's the reason why even people who have no interest in economics should read this book.

Yes, there's this economist (Steven D. Levitt) and this writer (Steven J. Dubner), and they decide to write a book using economic theory to answer bizarre questions that don't seem to have any connection to what we normally think of as economics at all. For example: What do children who do well in school have in common? What would be the best way to crush the Ku Klux Klan? How can we discover that school teachers or sumo wrestlers are cheating? What is the connection between someone's name and their level of success? And could legalized abortion have caused crime to drop dramatically in the US? Many of these questions have controversial and/or surprising answers. The book promises not to have any unifying theme or theory, but the moral of the story seems to be that one should always look beyond conventional wisdom and that numbers can tell us fascinating things - things that are interesting even if you have vowed never to be interested in math or money.

Posted by Julie at January 6, 2006 1:31 PM

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