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Post-hoc story telling and not as good as Freakonomics.
on 27 March 2013
Freakonomics took an alternative economists view (more actually a statistical view) of issues and their causes such as crime rates and gaming the results in education and sports. This book continues where the first left off, except it continues with more of the same and is less convincing, which is odd given all the cover endorsements by people from the FT etc. saying how much better it is than freakonomics.
The problem is it has lost its edge it is not original and much of the material is covered by others in a better and more thorough way. The mistakes are also more grating and annoying such as the danger of drunk walking. The statistic to look at is not the number of miles per death but the number of walks per death compared to car journeys per death. Most people don't walk very far. Then there is the nonsense about women being killed for witchcraft and the endless hubris of economists when they don't want to be called statisticians. The difference between an economist doing statistics and a statistician doing statistics is the order they work in. A statistician makes a model - a hypothesis and then collects the data. An economist collects the data or finds something interesting and then makes a hypothesis. This is post-hoc analysis and very dangerous, because you are basically story telling. That is what makes this book so infuriating, it is just stories from the author's perspectives and these are prone to bias and subjectivity.
So read Freakonomics if you want some of the wow I hadn't thought of that but give this one a miss.