Sunday, April 26, 2009
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner2005
6 hours, 26 minutes (audio book)
Another audio book! This one was fun to listen too...and I've never even considered myself a fan of economics. In fact, I loathed statistics in college, and since both involve numbers and complicated thinking, this really could have gone either way. I was actually bummed that the audio book ended so soon.
So a journalist (Steven with a v) and an economist (Stephen with a ph) meet. V discovers Ph has some pretty radical and interesting ideas, resulting in this book. And okay, so it probably didn't happen exactly like that, but you get the idea.
Then, they make the audio book, and V narrates it. Which is cool, because he throws in some asides about the authors. He also makes a good narrator, and I like it when the authors narrate their own work (as long as they manage to do a good job...and so far, I haven't had to fire anyone for lack of narrative skills. Although Toni Morrison's voice is almost too beautiful...I lose myself in the sound and then end up losing the story.).
Whoops, got sidetracked. So...
Some of my favorite (and by favorite I mean intriguing, make you go hmmmm) things from the book:
- The idea that Roe v Wade is responsible for the decrease in violent crime. (And this is NOT an invitation to debate abortion in the comments...we will NOT go there on this blog. Don't make me delete you.)
- Names as predictors of your destiny - and the two brothers...one named Loser (for reals!) who grew up to be a cop and the other named Winner who grew up and ended up in jail.
- Why you won't get rich trying to break into the upper echelon of a crack gang. Interesting side note here...the sociologist who is featured in this story has a book out now. I saw the book at Borders the other day, and it's about how he spent years studying this crack gang. The book is Gang Leader for a Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh. If you ever forget, like I did, just google crack gang sociologist...it's the first result.
I'm actually a bit reluctant to make a blanket recommendation on this one, because I'm sure some would find it boring, others might think the findings suspect, and others would just go WTF? However, if you like the occasional non-fiction book, hate economics but think freakonomics is the coolest word, and like out of the box thinking, then hey...give it a whirl.