Freakonomics
Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt

by

Jack Shields

Reviews

Review by Holt, Freakonomics: Everything He Always Wanted to Know

Holt starts by providing a brief description of Levitt where he indicates that the economist gained popularity for his startling thesis: abortion curbs crime (para. 1). Holt then summarizes Levitt and Dubner's claim in Freaknomics whereby they refute the impact of commonly attributed factors of crime reduction and instead attribute it to the legalization of abortion. Holt states that Levitt and Dubner's conclusion offended almost everyone. Liberals saw it as a sign of racism, conservatives become outraged that Levitt promoted abortion as a solution to crime reduction, while businesses felt that the authors have gone beyond their territory.

Holt does not shy off from providing his genuine opinion about the authors when he says that Levitt has gone too far in search of interesting issues (para.3). Holt asserts that from his point of view, Freakonomics is an odd book that proudly boasts that it lacks a unifying theme (para. 4). The author further argues that although Levitt and Dubner use data to support their arguments, the authors fail to use a controlled study to test the truth of their theory. Though Levitt and Dubner use the correlations between crime and the legalization of abortion to support their theory, they also fail to cite the undesirable repercussions of abortion, and thus, leave it to the readers to questions why Levitt and Dubner do not state the negative impacts of abortion in their assertion. Holt concludes by saying that economists tend to be arrogant and believe their own techniques of thoughts are more exact than social scientists (para.10).

Review by Challies, Book Review – Freakonomics

Challies start this review by informing the readers what captivated him into reading Freakonomics: the book was among the top New York Times bestsellers. The book had sold millions of copies over a few weeks despite the book dealing with economics, considered an unsexy discipline (para.1).

Challies asserts that the book introduces readers to various novel ways of viewing the world. Arguably, the book lacks a unifying theme, thereby, providing readers with a broad perspective. Challies states that Freakonomics overlaps with molarity, whereby morality dictates the way people should live in the world while economics determines how the world really works (para.4). However, the Challies confesses that he found the book disappointing since the information within the book was isolated. Nonetheless, Challies found it challenging as a Christian to ascertain that one’s morality is inconsistent with economics. 

Review by Leonard, Freakonomics

Leonard starts by offering his view about the book indicating that the book was fun, smart, and had an accessible introduction. The author agrees that Levitt and Dubner's argument about the correlation between crime and abortion triggered different reaction to a point of offending almost everyone. Leonard states that Levitt's tactics of finding creative ways of locating exogenous factors intrigues him since they help the author in ensuring that a variable is unaffected by something it is meant to elaborate (3). The writer further acknowledges that Levitt's ingenuity lies in his statement "more art than science" (3) when he tries to untangle cause from effects. Leonard, however, provided genuine criticism of Levitt's work by stating that the book had omissions. The author posits that if Levitt daringly compared the number of fetuses lost to abortion, thus pregnancies prevented, to homocides, he could have also measured the gains of incapacitation against the costs (3). The author also corrects Levitt's assumption that better schools lead to better future outcome by asserting that higher quality students explain the better results. He believes that although Levitt refutes his book having a common theme, Leonard argues that the book's main theme is that incentives matters (4).

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