Sunday, February 12, 2006
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Levitt and Dubner' s highly acclaimed book is that although it is freaky in good measure, you will be hard pressed to find any traditional economics in it. May be this book could have been more appropriately titled 'Freakostatistics' or 'Freakometrics', because what this book really is about is Data and its power to give surprising answers if the right questions are asked. This is where U Chicago economics professor Levitt excels at-- asking the 'right' and often unconventional questions. His modus operandi is simple. He looks for a field where there is a wealth of information available in the form of raw data, he lets the data speak for itself by giving it the voice of statistics and asking questions which nobody else thought of asking. What he finds is that data can be a surprisingly insightful speaker revealing both profound and mundane. It can tell you what really brings down crime in society, what is the best way to raise a child or what is common between real estate agents and Ku Klux Klan! A good measure of a book of this type can be gauged from the number of times you find yourself saying "A-ha!". On this test, Freakonomics does not disappoint at all and is an A-class "A-ha!" book.