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The Hidden Side of Some Things
on 9 May 2008
According to the authors of this book, Freakonomics is the ability to ask sensible questions about the world and deal with uncomfortable answers. At all times, one most not take any moral stand and simply judge the figures, the conclusion, with impartial eyes. It's philosophy disguised as economics, with a heavy reliance on figures and data to back up the questioning.
Freakonomics is really one theory - that abortion legalization in the U.S. in the 70s caused a drop in crime in the 90s - propped up with other less controversial theories in order to create a tome long enough to be printed and sold. It's still a fairly slim book, a quick read that reflects the lack of support to the ideas inside. That's not to say that the ideas are bad; but there's a lack of meat to the bones, a palpable sense that conclusions were drawn hastily in some instances in order to fit the authors' views. Also, eventhough the book presumes to explore the hidden side of everthing, it's mainly a compilation of questions put forward by white middle-class Americans, curious about abortion, black & white poverty, and the failure of the American education system in some states. Anyone living outside America might find it hard to care, unless they have a passing interest in America (mafioso Sumo wrestlers not withstanding).
Freakonomics is not very useful when investigating the future. There are no predictions in this book about the approaching collapse of the world's financial system, the looming Great Depression that will smack America (and everyone else) in the face. I would have been more impressed if they had tackled this subject.