The Freakonomics guys are back at it.
In their first book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, the economist and journalist duo of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner made quite a splash with a whole new set of questions, and a new way of looking at many things… Here’s an excerpt:
As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions. His particular gift is the ability to ask such questions. For instance, if drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers? Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What really caused crime rates to plunge during the last decade?… And how does a homeless man in tattered clothing afford $50.00 headphones?
Levitt’s underlying belief: the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and – if the right questions are asked – is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking.
Experts are human, and humans respond to incentives. How any given expert treats you, therefore, will depend on how that expert’s incentives are set up.
They are at it again in their new book: SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. It has gotten mixed reviews, with more than a few questions about their global warming/cooling section, but it is a big best seller. Volume 1 makes many interested to read volume 2.
I will be reading it this month, and presenting it at the December First Friday Book Synopsis. I’ll let you know what I think. I hope you will mark it on your calendar (December 4).