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About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)





Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



Levitt, Steven D.; Dubner, Stephen J.: Freakonomics

  Amazon  

4 stars

I'm late to the party reading Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's bestselling exploration of, well, a whole bunch of stuff. The book is based largely on research previously published by Levitt, an economics professor at the University of Chicago. And it is rendered into clear, accessible prose by Dubner, who writes also for the New York Times and The New Yorker. Levitt applies the tools of economics--the means by which economists sift and assess scads of data--to a variety of unlikely, non-econnomic subjects. The subjects addressed in Freakonomics include, for example, the factors that led to a dramatic decrease in crime in the U.S. beginning in the early 1990s, whether sumo wrestling is corrupt, and how Superman was instrumental in diminishing the power of the Ku Klux Klan in the mid-20th century. Many of Levitt's conclusions are counter-intuitive, which is what makes the book fun reading.

Throughout, the authors stress five fundamental ideas, outlined in their introduction:

  1. Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life.
  2. The conventional wisdom is often wrong.
  3. Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle, causes.
  4. "Experts"--from criminologists to real-estate agents--use their informational advantage to serve their own agenda.
  5. Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world much less so.

This pretty much sums up what the authors have to say in general. What remains is simply how these ideas are manifested in the particular cases considered in the book.

As the authors themselves admit, Freakonomics is unlikely to change your life, though it may leave readers more apt, at least temporarily, to question their assumptions. That may be reason enough to give the book a look, especially as it's so easily digested.

Comments

1.

I read this book a few years ago and then invited several friends from various fields to discuss it. All of us are over educated, or thought we were, until we read the chapter on names. We hadn't heard of or met anyone with a name on the list given for children of educated parents. So much for us.

2.

I don't think I had either! Then again, if I remember, I think that data was only from California, so maybe it hasn't diffused among the rest of us yet.

It was surprising how quickly names seemed to go from upper-class picks to being used by the lower classes.

3.

Thanks Debra - I like these succinct reviews that you do. This looks like one worth reading when I get the chance.

4.

Thanks, Clare. You'd probably like this one. But I thought I was the only person in the western hemisphere not to have read it already.

5.

"Conventional wisdom is often wrong."
Very true, and Freakonomics makes a great case for the urgent need for critical thinking. As an author and professor, I cringe when I read papers from students who've been criminally under-served by their educational institutions. They're perfect prey for the kind of "fact-twisting" Freakonomics addresses.

6.

Thanks for stopping by Bill!

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