Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Freakonomicssuperfreakonomics

What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their mothers? Why should a suicide bomber buy life insurance? Odd questions, yes, but so interesting you can’t put the book down.

I loved these books and I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first to say that I want a third one out in publication, right now (or yesterday, that’d be cool too). I was never really interested in economics, much to the chagrin of my mother who has a doctorate in finance and who loves learning and teaching economics (she actually once missed a plane because she was reading Freakonomics). But these books at least got me interested in microeconomics and showed me a different way to view the world. I mean, why would you want to study how Roe v. Wade (which legalized abortion) ultimately ended up lessening crime across the nation? Imagine the controversy that would ensue if this had been a media-covered, government-sponsored study. But leave it to two rogue economists to ask nonsensical questions to study the decrease in crime and the economics of prostitution.

Obviously, both of these books have some pretty heavy content, but I have to commend the authors on how they objectively they wrote. They relayed what the data showed without letting opinions get in the way. Data usually doesn’t lie and it won’t change to fit your opinions no matter how much you may want it to. I know I felt upset and disturbed when I read that according to the data, legalizing abortion had a significant impact on decreasing crime; something controversial and negative influenced a positive goal that many countries strive for.

My only question is, just how much of these books should you believe? What Dubner and Levitt concluded could very well have been misinterpreted or the data could be biased. Many times, you see that they refined their studies as much as possible to get rid of bias and control the variables accordingly. But should we really believe that the best way to combat global warming is to make several cooling devices to place in the middle ocean or spray sulfur into the atmosphere? I’m not sure. Regardless of whether we should believe or implement the ideas stated in these books, these make for an interesting read.

In my opinion, I found both books much too short and I was left wanting more. So Dubner and Levitt, I would love for there to be an Ultrafreakonomics if at all possible. Your readers will thank you.

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