Stephanie W's Reviews > Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
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's review
Oct 11, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: nonfiction, business
Read from October 11 to 15, 2010

At first, Freakonomics seemed promising. It was a look at the hidden side of everything, a New York Times bestseller and it would put the mysteries in life in a language the masses could understand. Yet upon reading, the book fell flat in many respects. The book, in many ways, seems exactly like the introductory chapters of my Sociological Methods textbook from college. It is interesting in its own right, but anyone with the most basic background in Statistics or Economics will find this book, at best, unsupported. Instead, it is presented mostly as anecdotal accounts of correlation, not causation.

The book is an easy read, but the chapters end where the next logical question should pick up (or certain elements are ignored entirely). In the chapter about the drop in crime rates, he completely ignored any mention of white collar crime and instead focused on violent crime, drug related and petty theft (see the bagel incident). I would have found that section the most interesting of the book and though white collar crime is the most difficult to detect, it seems as though there would be other logical correlating factors (corporate mergers, etc). To not address one of those key aspects seems like a gross oversite or simply pure laziness.

I agree that it is necessary to create a book like this for the masses, but a book like this will never reach the people who need it most (a point Levitt makes perfectly clear in his discussion of parenting). People with high IQs and social status will have a house full of books and a greater reverence for education. People do not become intelligent by owning and reading books (pg 172).

By this idea, only high IQ individuals will purchase this book (and those without high IQs who purchase will probably not understand it anyway). If that's the case Mr. Levitt, why don't you include a little more math in your book, for those of us who were raised in a house of books?

See what I did there? I made a completely unsubstantiated claim just like those found in this book.

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