Manny’s review of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

i'm a big fan of abortion. i had no idea this subject was in this book and i, too, am surprised it's not been more discussed.

what other topics are included, manny?

message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny He has a lot of fun stuff. I really liked the analysis showing that Sumo wrestlers throw matches. Very hard to find another way of explaining the numbers. The bit about petty office crime was great too (he tracks data from a bagel salesman who works on an honor system). There's an analysis of the corporate structure of drug dealer empires, which I think is one of the few bits which has already become generally accepted. And a nice piece tracking how baby names migrate from higher income brackets to lower ones. Some others I'm not bringing to mind right now. It's a really cool book!

Going back to where we came in, he has an intuitive explanation of the abortion/crime link which made a lot of sense to me. As he points out, these are statistical trends, and there will always be plenty of exceptions. But, ON AVERAGE, what sort of person will you grow up to be if your mother would rather have killed you before you were born, except that she wasn't legally allowed to do it?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

exactly. exactly. and are the pro-lifers lining up to adopt those kids? CAN they even adopt them? or help them in any way?

(ok, i actually don't know. if they are, then my outrage is unjustified. i can live with that.)

message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny He has an anecdotal point that I loved. When Ceauşescu came to power, one of the first things he did was to make abortion illegal. He wanted more Romanians. 25 years later, when his regime fell, he was the only Eastern European leader to get lynched by the mob. As Levitt says: you can't help wondering whether the young men who lynched him were the ones that their mothers would have preferred to abort.

message 5: by Manny (new)

Manny But yes, to answer your question: I think his book is even more important if you're a pro-lifer. As you say, it shows that you HAVE to introduce a well-funded adoption policy, otherwise you're being totally irresponsible.

message 6: by Ben (last edited Mar 16, 2009 07:04AM) (new)

Ben Well stated, you two. Now go read The Cider House Rules. Man, I love that book.

message 7: by trivialchemy (new)

trivialchemy Look, I love killing fetuses as much as the next guy, but I'm afraid there's just no way this argument will hold up to a pro-lifer. If you believe that the human fetus is a person with an inalienable right to life, vested by its creator with a soul, etc., then the question of the consequences of that life is totally immaterial. To say that abortion should be legal because it reduces urban crime rates sounds just as absurd to such an individual as that every urban criminal should be executed.

message 8: by Manny (new)

Manny Well, I agree! As you say, to a pro-lifer it's murder. But most of these people are also pretty strong on law and order. I'd advise pro-lifers to interpret the result as underlining just how badly US society is failing the children of mothers who would like to have abortions. It demonstrates the absolutely critical need for a better adoption program.

message 9: by trivialchemy (new)

trivialchemy Well, that's true.

But you know, if our adoption programs get too strong, the puritanical fascists may make us give up the god-given right to kill our fetuses. Perhaps we better keep this all under wraps.

message 10: by Manny (new)

Manny You know, take it a bit further, and you have an interesting philosophical question. If the State assumes all responsibility for any negative consequences that may follow from the woman's deciding to keep her fetus, is she still morally justified in getting an abortion? You assume that there are abortion lawyers who will plead her case to the best of their ability, and require compensation for the pain of giving birth, etc. And obviously, if her physical or mental health is at risk, she still gets an abortion - no reputable lawyer would take such a case.

I must say, I really don't know! I think women's opinions are more relevant here though. If I were a woman, I wouldn't want guys deciding this one for me.

La pointe de la sauce Manny, i have to disagree with you on this one. All because there is a correlation between abortions and the drop in crimes does not mean it is the only factor. Let's not forget that you may have one person who has had multiple abortions and then goes on to have 3 or 4 kids. This would cancel out any 'benefits' of legalising abortions.
Let's not start promoting abortions as the new way of dealing with the real problem of poverty and poor education.

message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny King, it isn't the only factor! Read the book. It's just the largest one. And you definitely don't need to interpret this as saying that you should promote abortion. All it says is that, when a mother would have preferred to abort her unborn child, that child has a higher than average chance of becoming a criminal. Not such a controversial statement, I would claim...

La pointe de la sauce And I would agree, the research on that can not be disputed. But the issue here is whether the introduction of abortion led to a very significant drop in crime. There is definitely a corelation but is it really the largest factor? Do we assume that a woman would keep aborting if let's say she fell pregnant 2 or 3 times a year?

Let's not forget that the contraceptive pill was introduced in the 60s and may have only become widely prevalent in the 70s. Could we not assume that this had a much lager impact as it is a more simpler and much more appealing method of birth control.

Anyway, there is no point arguing, abortion rates have been dropping very significantly Every year for the last 20 years, if this book is right then we should expect another major crime epidemic about....Now.

I'm going to write a book about how global warming has affected crime. Lol

message 14: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana I'd say its conclusion about abortion is that women pretty much know when it's a good idea or a bad idea right now for them to have a child. I'm in favor of keeping abortion legal, safe, and rare, meaning we give women and children much better options than they have right now, causing them to choose to bring their babies to term far more often, in other words using loving means of persuasion rather than force. It does seem to me that pro-lifers are often thinking punitively rather than thinking in empathy with the fetus or child. Would you rather be raised by a mom who wished you were dead in a society which cares little for poor women and children? Or would you rather your mom give you up for adoption to people who love babies and plan to give you love, good nutrition, medical care, education, and a stable family? The book made a good case that letting women decide about their own reproduction is sound social policy. Now if we want them to decide less often in favor of terminating pregnancies, we need to make motherhood less economically devastating than it is.

message 15: by Manny (new)

Manny Tatiana, I'm totally with you on this one.

I should say that Notgettingenough looked around to see what new material there was available. The conclusions of Levitt's research have been heavily questioned. I was however unsure how seriously to take the criticisms, given that they in turn had been questioned by people who accused the relevant researchers of having an explicit pro-life agenda. (I didn't at all get the impression that Levitt was particularly pro-choice).

It is bad that science, particularly in the US, is becoming so heavily politicized.

message 16: by NOTE BOOK (new)

NOTE BOOK Blah, blah,blah......statistics or not, it is only common sense to KNOW that for ANY child born or to be born there MUST be financial, nutritional, educational, and supportive social burdens or, needs to be met. Thus, the case for determining whether a child has a chance to be a productive citizen in life or a problem citizen in life. Here is where the data makes more sense than any theory or fact. Give a female the proper education of child rearing, give the child the proper tools to become productive then watch the data jump all over the place. But the real case is here, IN ANY SOCIETY, IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE THEM, SO IT TAKES TWO TO CARE, LOVE , FEED, SUPPORT AND EDUCATE every single human bring that breathes the breath of earths atmosphere. Take away any one or combination of the said factors and there is your chance to prove the coming criminal!!!......

message 17: by Greg (new)

Greg Hi Manny, this one wasn't for me. However, I ran the numbers for goodreads 'best books' of the year for 2015 and found non-normal data. Or should I just say 'absolutely f***ing impossible numbers" for two books voted best of the year; "Go Set a Watchman' and "Girl on a Train.' Does it matter? Well, publishers have used these 'awards' to push their books. Oh, and about "pro-life", I know what you mean, and I know what Levitt means, and I agree with you and the author. That said, seems to me that everyone is 'pro-life" and the term has been used to indicate there are people who are "anti-life", and that's just not true.

message 18: by R.S. (new)

R.S. Merritt "It's not really about economics." Everything is about Economics :-)

message 19: by Manny (new)

Manny Well, in the broadest interpretation of the word...

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