Thursday, April 10, 2008
I can't believe I have finished yet another non-fiction book. I haven't read this much "information" since I graduated from BYU. My book group will be discussion Freakonomics next Tuesday but I think if I wait that long to write anything about it I might forget some of the more interesting things.
This book is written by a journalist, Stephen J. Dubner and an economist, Steven D. Levitt. Neither seem to fit the mold of either of their professions. Levitt takes the principle of incentive and while most economists apply it to finance, he applies it to different social situations that are far more interesting to read about. For example, one chapter is titled, "Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?" His basic point is that behavior is caused by incentives: social, financial, moral. But it's not just talky talk. I read most of the latest John Stossle book and while I found a lot of his philosophizing interesting I thought some of his data and research was questionable. This guy, however, does not write to whistleblow, moralize, or convert. His sentences include words like algorithm, correlation, causality, equation, data, regression analysis and variables. But those words are just peppered into a very readable book. Believe me, I'm no statitician who enjoys pondering the deeper meaning of standard deviation. Some of his conclusions are surprising and some disturbing. This book has and will ruffle MANY feathers because it really doesn't care if it makes anyone feel good.
The authors state that if morality is the way we would like the world to work then economics represent the way it actually does work. Real Estate Agents, politicians, school teachers, drug dealers, pro-lifers, pro-choicers, parents, sumo wrestlers, klu-klux klan members, bagel eaters -- anyone -- be forewarned. The reasons why you do things are all fair game for this team.