01/23/06 07:31 PM
Despite the glowing quotation on the cover of the book from one large-haired Malcom Gladwell, Freakonomics is not a book to read if you’re looking to have you mind blown. Yes, Steven Levitt is an interesting guy who tends to look at things in very unique ways, but much of the data and theories in the book don’t tackle very weighty subjects. Instead, the book uses the study of numbers and large sample data (economics, yo) to try to figure out if Sumo Wresting is fixed, whether or not real estate agents have much of an incentive to sell your home for a lot more money, or whether names given to people actually hold them back in life.
Granted, there are a few more serious subjects tackled (including Levitt’s controversial, but rather logical theory that the legalization of abortion in the 70s was the key factor triggering a massive crime drop from the late 80s to early 90s), but mostly the book is sort of a “gee whiz” look at tackling problems from a different angle. That said, I enjoyed the heck out of it, and it was a brisk and enjoyable read. I already have sort of a weird obsession with numbers and data (although not enough to real hardcore economy books), so this one was right up my alley.
Including this book, I’ve now finished 4 books this year for a total of 884 pages read. I guess I still haven’t quite recovered from reading the massive Rising Up And Rising Down last year, as it’s obvious all the books I’ve tackled this year have been rather wimpy. Still, I’m on pace to beat last years total of 28 books and 8440 pages, but I’m going to have to dig into something more serious at some point.