Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

July 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

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This book found its way to me through a friend of mine. He lent me this book with praises for it, saying it is funny and informative at the same time. He summed up the book in one word: Awesome!

This is the revised and expanded version. It can be safely assumed then, that the first edition was so successful that the duo had to put forth a second edition, this time correcting some of their previous mistakes, and adding in some bonus materials, mainly articles from The New York Times Magazine, and also from their blog (http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/)

To quote from the blurb:

What do estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan have in common?

Why do drug dealers live with their mothers?

How can your name affect how well you do in life?

Though ridiculous these questions may sound, they are indeed some of the main topics that the book discusses.

The book came highly recommended, but I can’t say that it lived up to my expectations. It held my attention for about half of the original contents, especially when the discussion was about the Ku Klux Klan, and about how their power and influence started to fade away with the opening up of information about them and their activities.

Perhaps I found this part especially interesting because I am not nearly as well-informed about the KKK as I would like to be. I thought it gave me some insight into what exactly the KKK was, and I was also able to draw some parallels between the racial slur and segregation, along with fear-mongering, and link them to what is happening still today.

For the later part of the book, I started to feel that the points and arguments made were not nearly as strong or as convincing as they may be. Sometimes it felt like they were contradicting themselves within the span of a couple of pages.

The chapter regarding the role of parents was particularly disappointing. I had expected them to expose some of the myths behind parenting, or perhaps throw some light onto this very much debated subject. I was let down quite hard, especially considering how they pandered around subjects, almost refusing to commit themselves to any one particular point.

Maybe this book is not meant as an answer to all our questions. And then again, maybe this book was only meant to give us that headstart in questioning what is commonly believed, and to show us that there is not only one correct way to view things.

I have yet to read any of the bonus material. I started counting the number of pages I had left when I got to the third chapter, and this is definitely not a good sign. I may make some time tonight to finish up some of the bonus materials included in the book before returning it to its owner. However, I doubt it can do much to change my opinion of it.

Conclusion: I admit that it was probably handicapped by my rather high expectations of it. Not reaching that expectation, it has of course accelerated my disappointment. Again, there were several good points made, and some valid arguments thrown in, but in the end, it didn’t really add up for me.

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