Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Books: Freakonomics

I read Freakonomics this weekend. It took me all of 8 hours, and I'm a slow reader.

The subtitle of Freakonomics is:
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Sadly, this is not the author.

Here's my two cent review...

First, if you have no interest in economics or the social sciences, then don't read this book. It doesn't make things that are inherently uninteresting to most people (numbers) magically interesting.

Second, if you have a very strong interest in economics or the social sciences, don't read this book. I have a double major in Poli Sci and Sociology, and spend a great deal of my time working with statistics, but lack any advanced degrees. I had previously read about 90% of this book in other places, mostly news articles and scholarly papers. It was sort of interesting to see them all in one place and written in plain language, but there was nothing earth shattering.

Third, if you are poor and have an internet connection, don't read this book. By simply doing a google search, you can read excerpts or good summaries of most of the book for free (for example, here, here, here, here, or here. Or if you are lazy, I will give you my copy for free if you live in DC or want to send me the money for shipping.

Having said all of that, if you have a moderate interest in economics, and have an afternoon to kill, it was a pretty easy and enjoyable read. I disagree with a lot of his findings, but at least they're interesting and go against conventional wisdom. If you do read Freakonomics, skip the self serving introduction and examine everything with skepticism. Enjoy the ride, but don't think that you're really going anywhere.
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