T Nation

The 'Freakonomics' Thread


#1

Just got around to reading it this week (finished it on the plane ride to Florida).

So much to talk about in that book. It flips a lot of 'conventional wisdom' about things on its head.

If you've read it, what did you think? School testing fraud to comply with NCLB? White kids in black schools tests vs black kids in white schools tests? Abortion reduced crime rates? "Black names" vs. "White Names"? Economics of dealing crack? Great Parenting myths? Pool vs Guns?

These are topics which I don't normally discuss on Interwebz forums, but would like to see them here in the context of the book. No doubt this will end up in the sewage pit that is "PWI", but let's see where it goes.

Best quote of the book: "... emotion is the enemy of rational argument."

Go.


#2

I'd probably have to read it again to be able to contribute. Superfreakonomics wasn't quite as good, IMO.


#3

superfreakonomics was alot worse IMO. Im currently reading 'Outliers' which is a good read so far and is in a very similar vein. I was an Econ major in college, and took an econometrics class which is the science that the book is founded on (finding comparisons).


#4

Yeah I really liked Freakonomics but I read it lightyears ago. TBH I thought you were bringing it up because a film version has been released.


#5

lol I hated econometrics. Worst class ever.

Also I'm not a big fan of Outliers but I like Malcolm Gladwell's other books Blink and Tipping Point. Blink is by far the best.


#6

Oh, how I'm nostalgic for the days when even the men of hard labor would pick up a book like Human Action and read through and through. So as to have a solid foundation in economics.

I guess Freakonomics is close as we're going to get in this day an age.

I read it back in 9th grade, I'll have to pick it up again and read it. I'll be back, though.


#7

It should take you just a couple hours. Pretty easy read.


#8

It'll take me more than that, I'm about 130 miles from my copy.


#9

Yeah I read both freakonomics and superfreakonomics in one day each. It really isn't that much to read.

Good read. Interesting take. Anti- PC. Only negative would be that I thought it was a bit over reaching in some of it's conclusions.


#10

Discuss! (I haven't read "Super.." yet-- to do..)


#11

I would have to page back through it, but I just remember think there were lots of unaccounted for variables that could have impacted results.


#12

If you liked the book, you might enjoy this:

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/

Some of the topics and columns are pretty good. Unfortunately, some of the contributors are just awful.


#13

I'd read both. Interesting for sure. The first one is more interesting, but I'm a curious guy so SuperF piqued my interest too.

Outliers is good but then again most of Gladwell's books have been good.

Very good to read on a long flight, I agree.


#14

I like a lot of Gladwell's stuff, but it seems to me his arguments really fall apart in the latter half of all three books - or at least wander off somewhere.

In the intro to his "What the dog saw" collection, he writes soemthign to the effect that it frustrates him when someone's reaction to a written work is 'I dont buy it,' because Gladwell feels (I believe, if I'm recalling correctly) that good writing isn't supposed to convince, but rather allow the reader to experience the viewpoint. But that's a cop out, in my opinion, when you're writing in a persuasive style and taking a side, rather than laying both sides out equally. Only the most unself-aware person can hold a view that is plainly self-contradictory or internally consistent. The point shouldnt be simply to justify your own thoughts, not in a commercial medium that's meant to be consumed by the masses, but to convince. In my opinion.


#15

Steely,

If you liked Freakonomics (and the genre that that book essentially spawned) you might like Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Great read, not quite in the same vein as Freakonomics, but really good book.

It's about EH (economic hitmen) that go to various countries and convince their governments to take on loans from the US that the governments could never repay. When those countries default on their loans, the US calls in "favors" - military or political.

I won't give anything away but you might really enjoy that. Definitely different material than what's typically on the shelves.

KBC,

I agree that was a copout. Fiction or creative non-fiction might aim to make the reader see the same viewpoint as the author or the characters in the story, but with books like Freakonomics and Gladwell's stuff, the books are written to convince the reader (usually with data) of an unconventional or unpopular argument. This is especially true when there is data present; because why else would data be brought into the writing? Come on.

I do like Gladwell in general, though.


#16

It's interesting that I came into GAL to quote "Freakonomics" in the thread dealing with women getting paid less in the work place, and ran across this thread. What are the odds? Anyway, I think "SuperFreakonomics" was even better than the first. I read the first one about three times and have yet to re-read the second, but I thought it dealt with far more interesting topics overall. Global Warming and prostitution, mostly. I can't say that all his conclusions are infallible, but I'd like to think that they're fairly sound.