Are you a Freakonomics fan? I have to declare that I am. It’s been ten years since we first were introduced to the creative thinking, applied economics and quirky way these two guys view the world. Let’s remember they were the ones who convincingly linked a change in abortion law in the USA with the change in crime statistics a generation later; and identified that teachers who were randomly allocated pass grades to their students in Chicago in order to make themselves look good did so in a detectable way. Dunbar and Levitt revealed there is nothing random about random human behaviour. And they continue to do so in their latest book.
This current book builds on their international success and the phenomenon they have become. It’s not entirely original, but it is easy, and amusing, to read. What they have done is collated their blogs posts, which are necessarily shorter than chapters in their previous books. I must say I think I prefer the longer chapter approach where a problem is presented, researched and solved. But the issues in the current book are smaller, slightly less heady and easier to contain. This is a book that you will dip into rather than reading from cover to cover. It’s full of funny, and sometimes ludicrous suggestions, such as: the introduction of a sex-tax; whether there is really a hometown advantage in sports; questioning whether the Endangered Species Act is actually harmful to the endangered species.
Like all blog posts, some of these are time-sensitive and you need to understand the political environment in which they were written. And, as is true for their books, its very USA-focussed. Nevertheless it’s a welcome addition to the Levitt and Dubner section of my library. These two write intelligent and witty books and are keen observers of the world we live in.