Saturday, July 3, 2010

Week 23: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

The subtitle of this book, "a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything", was too tantalizing for me to resist when this book was first published in 2005. It's been on my wishlist ever since. When it finally went down to $1.00, it was time to buy it. I'm sure the rogue economist would be proud.

This book is not about economics, rather, it is about asking questions and applying economic algorithms to rather unusual subjects. The author breaks open real estate practices (as you might expect), then moves into sumo wrestling, cheating teachers, the impact of baby's names, and onward.

The math was a little overwhelming. Several times, I intoned Mike Myers in Wayne's World... "Exsqueeze me? Um. Baking powder?" I'm by no means a math genius - or even interested in math - but I hung on for the ride - with sheer will power, to be sure. I was going to get through this book, come hell or high numbers.

This book was tongue-in-cheek at times, pulling back the curtain and showing us embarassing innards and laughably exposed underbellies. My very favorite part was the discussion of the idiotic names that the Ku Klux Klan pick for their locations and leaders, and their ridiculous codes, and how their power was not in lynchings (as is commonly thought) but in mysterious practices and information hoarding.

This book is worth reading... just dig in your nails at the tough parts... and keep on going. It's good.

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