"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? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime?
These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head.
Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.
Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of . . . well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Klu Klux Klan.
What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a great deal of complexity 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.
Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world."
So, it may look a little daunting and non-fiction-y, but this one's honestly pretty short (like 200 pages) and very quick to get through. The topics are, as professed, a bit random, but all of the information was hugely interesting to hear about. I really liked in particular the analysis of factors determining success/change in children, versus the surprisingly ineffective factors. It gave me a lot of new information and opened up a lot of questions in my mind, which is exactly what I think the authors were going for. I got a lot out of reading it, and in my opinion it was really, really good. It was on the same level as the Bill Bryson book I reviewed last week or so. I think it's extremely worth reading. I'm gonna end it there because I caught the SFAC sickness and feel not-so-great at the moment, but rest assured that I give this 4.5 stars. There are copies at Kettleson, Sitka High, and MEHS.