||[Mar. 6th, 2006|11:06 pm]
Book Bears and Cubs
|||||Tracy Byrd - Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo||]|
Just finished reading Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
I was expecting a rather dry scientific read, but instead found it to be easy, entertaining and enlightening.
The book ranges through questions as disparate as
"Do sumo wrestlers cheat?";
"If drug dealers make so much money, why do they live at home with their mothers?";
"Does spending more money on your political campaign really make a difference?";
"Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?"; and
"Do the unusual names that some black parents give their children hurt their later career prospects?"
These questions may seem to have nothing in common; but in fact they are all questions that few people ask, and that--with the right data--can be answered with sometimes startling results. What sets Levitt apart as an economist is that he finds the right data and interprets it in ways that few others do, debunking popular beliefs where necessary.
There are numerous themes throughout the book, but they seem to revolve around the nature of conventional--and often incorrect--wisdom, the impact of incentives on individuals and groups, and the nature of information, how it is used by "experts" to get the better of the non-experts.
I read it in two sittings, and honestly couldn't put it down. Of course, there has been a negative impact in that I'm now questioning every statistic I hear. But in today's political/social environment, that's probably a good thing....