Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

This audio book came from the Alachua County Public Library on 6 CDs, was 7 hours long, and was narrated by Stephen J. Dubner.

I was on a long waiting list to get this book from the library. I have been hearing about it for a long time.

It's Steven Levitt's research that is the basis of this book. The sub-title refers to him as a rogue economist, but I think that only means he talks about everyday things instead of the consumer price index and gross domestic product. This book seems to be a mesh of psychology and economics: a study of incentives and how they motivate people in the real world. It seeks to answer questions like: How has legalized abortion affected crime rates? And, If there is so much money in dealing drugs, why do so many drug dealers live at home with their moms?

This book's completely rational, utilitarian approach to human behavior in the marketplace delivers a lot of surprises. It is completely amoral, so it will unsettle people who have the strongest moral compass. But it will be fair in that it disturbs people on both sides of a moral issue. After all, if you just go by the numbers, you can come to some pretty dehumanizing conclusions.

It wasn't a long book, so that means it got to the point. It waded into geek speak only long enough to establish its credentials. It was highly entertaining and thought-provoking, and worth 4 stars any day.

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