Steve Stone

Developer. Designer. Youth Worker. Nerd.


September 14, 2021

I just finished Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. A fun and quirky book. I’ve listened to interviews from the Freakonomics guys before and I really admire their creativity when it comes to interpreting insights from data. The book feels a little dated (It was written in 2005, this second edition was published in 2011. Everything seems that way if it was written pre-2016!), but the stories hold up. The book dives into theories on how things are connected when they seemingly shouldn’t be. It uses data from some unlikely sources and it’s fun to see how they interpret the data to suppor their theories.

For example:

  • How school teachers in Chicago and sumo wrestlers in Japan are both in systems that encourage and even benefit from cheating.
  • How the KKK and real-estate agents both use information, secrecy, and jargon to help themselves and exclude others.
  • Why there is a disparagement in drug dealers income levels (some are millionaires but most still live with their moms).
  • How the 40% crime drop in the 90's may not have been caused by the war on drugs, policing, policies, or the economy (hint: It might be caused by Rowe vs Wade!)
  • What makes a great parent, and what doesn’t seem to matter.
  • Does a person’s first name determine their future economic status? It was pretty crazy. The authors admit, even relish in the fact that there is no unifying theme of the book, just observations of data about our world and the weird way it seems to work.