Freakonomics by Steven D Levitt is a unique book that takes a new look at many of the statistics of life that we take for granted as being the truth.
Freakonomics can be easily defined as one of the most WOW books I have listened to recently. It really makes you take a new look at the world as a whole and how we think about it. It also is a very provocative look at some of the things we do as a society and the long lasting effects they have.
The book is the brainchild of economist Steven Levitt. When you think of the type of book that would come out of an economist, you may think there is only going to be a lot of number crunching and finding ways to cut back on spending.
While that is usually what economists do, Levitt does things a little differently. He looks at the long-term societal impacts of the decisions we make and the changes we enact. The biggest example of this is in the study that got him a lot of attention in the first place. It looked at the correlation between abortion and crime.
Levitt studied the crime rates in the 90s and how the abortion rates of years before had an impact on those crime numbers. What he found was that
legalized abortion of the 70s and 80s seemed to have brought a decrease in crime in the 90s. His theory for this is that children who are not wanted are more likely to commit crimes. So, once unwanted children are aborted, they will not grow up to be criminals. He backs this up with piles of research and
documentation. While not a popular theory, it is a very interesting one.
Other things that he looks at more closely in Freakonomics is that a street level drug business is not much different than running a fast food
restaurant, how Superman may have contributed to the decline of the Klu Klux Klan and why some teachers cheat and help their students on tests. It’s a very interesting look at a lot of things you always thought you understood in the past. Levitt seems to take all those stereotype statistics and break them, showing you there could be something new behind what you thought you already knew.
If you are not interested in statistics and the workings of the world, you may want to pass this one up. But, even those who have a little interest may walk away from this with some new insight on life.
Stephen J. Dubner does a great job with this book. While the information is provocative, it is still in a report or article form and Dubner manages to use his voice to keep it interesting for the whole seven hours.