As the title implies, this is not your typical economics treatise, and Steven D. Levitt is not your typical economist. Instead, Levitt (with the help of co-author Stephen J. Dubner) uses basic economic concepts to explore various mysteries of everyday life in sometimes surprising ways. Recommended for fans of Malcolm Gladwell's work.
William Morrow, 256 pages
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Jack T gave it an8:
Economists' traditional data banks have been exhausted and are close to bankruptcy, so like Letitt thay are now robbing the data banks of the other sciences. He really brought nothing to the enterprise but statistical expertise, but that turns out to have been enuf to capture some new insights. Not profound (or even deep!), it is nonetheless a good read and worth the fast read.
Praveen P gave it an8:
Nice book... except the last chapter.
Paula W. gave it a7:
This book doesn't offer much that's new to someone who already has a background in economics, but for the general public it's an engaging introduction to concepts like information asymmetries (as they are used by the Ku Klux Klan) and organizational theory (as in the case of a crack gang).
chuck gave it a7:
thankful to see someone thinking "outside the box" but could use less of the endless self-promoting. The former outweights the latter for a good read through a jossle of a book.
misha gave it a6:
While Levitt is clearly an “outside the box” thinker with some impressive accomplishments, he is also a shameless huckster bent on selling his elixir to folks overwhelmed by the complexity of life who are just dying to believe that there is a simple way to understand everything. His analysis/review of dropping crime levels in major cities and widespread cheating in schools is definitely worth your time. He has done his homework and knows how to look for meaningful data and work it effectively. But often, as he goes beyond basic analyses, his positions become shaky and it shows. The main problems with his work: One, he makes a big deal of saying that he has no unifying theory . . . which means you can’t criticize any inconsistencies in his work (ha, beat you to the punch!). Second, he hammers home the point that “other experts” will put their own interests ahead of those of the reader, so be careful of “all those users” out there . . . but Levitt, himself, is completely trustworthy (verrrry different) and he is writing solely for the reader’s edification (hence don’t even look for hucksterism in his work that might be aimed at making the book a profitable little project regardless of what it takes). Finally, he wants you to believe that he is unique: an economist who treads where none have gone before. Actually, that’s partly true in that he is an economist who likes to tackle matters usually addressed by sociologists, psychologists, and political scientists, but with a conspicuous absence of training in those areas. Hence, he goes from quantitative to qualitative analysis in a way that will astound those who actually have experience with the matter at hand. Step right this way, folks . . . just watch your step.
Dara G gave it a7:
An interesting read, regardless if one agrees with Levitt's theories. However, the overly congratulatory excerpts from Dubner's article about Levitt were not necessary. Readers should not have to be constantly persuaded of the author's genius while they read.
S Yanoff gave it a7:
I would recommend this book to others because of the really interesting cases the authors cite in the book. However, the book really could have been better if they had shortened the topics and maybe covered 2 or 3 more in the book. For example, there is an interesting section at the end on how a person's name affects their outcome in life, especially as it relates to test scores. However, the section drags on and on. A similar analysis within the book details how crime is lower today because of Roe v. Wade in the early 70s. It's a very interesting analysis that begins to drag on.
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