Tung's Reviews > Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life

Hidden Order by David D. Friedman
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it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction

Friedman is a brilliant economist (and son of Milton), and this book is really the forerunner to Freakonomics, in the sense that it was the first of the armchair economics books geared toward discussing data in more interesting and conversational ways. A friend who recommended Hidden Order claimed that it was the book that Freakonomics was trying to be. This is true in the sense that Hidden Order does a far better job of illustrating the pervasiveness of the power of numbers in all aspects of our lives, and how numbers shape the world (choosing the right grocery store checkout line, voting or not voting, why special interest groups are so powerful, choosing the right mate, etc.); Freakonomics simply pointed out a few examples of where underlying data analysis proved invaluable, and then provided potential reasons for the underlying movement of numbers without seeking to tie those theories to existing economic models, whereas Hidden Order attempts to do the tying of numbers to theory. While Hidden Order does a more extensive job outlining the effect that economic theory can have on our daily interactions, it is far less entertaining a read than Freakonomics. Hidden Order reads like a casual and well-illustrated Economics 101 textbook: everything is tied to a formula; there are graphs everywhere labeled “Figure 10-2”; and Friedman often covers an economics topic and then states that he’ll “develop the idea further in Chapter 19”. Overall, an interesting though dry read.

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