Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BOOK REVIEW - Freakonomics

Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

241 pages

William Morrow, 2005

Most of the books I read fall into one of two categories. The first are impulse buys at the bookstore, and my inability to walk out of a bookstore without dropping twenty bucks accounts for probably 60% of my reading. The other 40% of my reading consists of books that have been recommended or given to me by friends and family, or books I have been introduced to via my media diet. Books from the second category I can usually remember where I heard about them, however since I borrowed this book from Mr. TunaCan it doesn’t fit in the first category and since I know Mr. TunaCan and I discussed the book before he bought it, it does not fall into the second category. The fact that I cannot remember where I heard about this book and what got my interest up has been bothering me for two days now. Oh well, on with the show.

In this book the authors propose to tackle a series of questions and then apply economic principles and statistical analysis to sets of data in order to come up with the answers to the questions. Sometimes the answers were expected, such as the “discovery” that some teachers cheat on standardized tests for their kids when it affects their school’s funding level, and some of the answers were totally unexpected (I’ll leave you in suspense on these.) The book was a very quick read, a trait I often equate with a book not being intellectually stimulating, however that was not the case for this book. In fact this book could serve as the framework for an entertaining course in applied economic theory. Like any good teacher the authors make no presumptions about what their reader may know and therefore they start with the questions which can be answered simply and slowly move to the questions requiring more complex reasoning. I really enjoyed this book and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is willing to be open to the idea that conventional wisdom can be just flat out wrong.


Ugly Americans by Ben Mezrich. How do I know? I finished the book over the weekend, that’s how.


Anonymous said...

*sniffles* I miss your "Day in the Life of a Woodjam" posts.

Not that the book and comic reviews aren't fun and interesting as well, but I'm nosy and care about your personal life and your views on things such as elevator etiquitte. <3


Anonymous said...


Havest thou a book called "Kaleidoscope Century" from us? Steven can't find it and you're the only person he remembers wanting to loan it to. =]



James said...

Ask and ye shall receive. I wrote three pieces today, one is posted here, one is over at the Alcoholocaust and I will post the third here tomorrow.

I missed them too. The old writing brain has not been up to snuff lately, which is shitty for me because it means I am falling behind on my Star Trek writing projects, my Shadowrun writing project, and I missed a chance to submit a pitch for a story to include in a comic anthology. This is in addition to not having completed any new poetry in several months now AND neglecting my fine, fine readers here at the Opiate and on the Alcoholocaust.

I do indeed have the book. I will promote it in the too be read pile and send it back to you guys as soon as I can.