Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I've been reading more non-fiction than usual this summer, so I decided to complete my round of non-fic with the infamous "Freakonomics." This isn't quite a review, just a little blurb. For one, it's a short book. Aside from bonus material in the back, the bulk of the book is less than 200 pages. Even for somebody like me that detests econ, I thought it a fun read. The trouble with this book is when to decide to wholeheartedly believe Steven Levitt, and when to doubt his research. Personally, I ate it all up. Levitt is an argument magician, a linguistic con-man. He will make you believe anything, and not just from a good prose style. He will make you believe it because it is true, because it is what the stats show, what the facts depict.
For instance, take his stance on crime. To Levitt, the fall of crime in the '90s is about 50% due to the consequences of Roe v. Wade. I completely believe him: fewer unwanted babies mean fewer troubled youths mean fewer criminals. The logic is brilliant. But as we all know, causality and correlation are two very different things, and to say that Roe v. Wade CAUSED the drop in crime is a bit problematic, although highly believable. But that's just me.
Other than that, a highly interesting book. It will make you see the world differently, allowing you to see the more complex, enigmatic, and surprising insides of our candy-coated world. Like the cover depicts, an apple skin might house an orange. You'll never look at politics, society, or economics the same way again.