CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR 4 Review #12: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
I think I have read more non-fiction for pleasure this year than I ever have before. I saw this book in the store for years, and I was intrigued by it’s bizarre cover – it looks like an apple, but inside is an orange! Craziness! However, I never found the time to read it. Then I saw the movie pop up on my Netflix Instant. I was hooked. This was in the similar vein of Mary Roach’s great books, Stiff and Bonk and my favorite NPR show, Radiolab – science made interesting!
Freakonomics asks questions such as, “What is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?”(the pool) and “How much do parents and names really matter?”(not that much). Some of the answers were surprising. In the chapter on whether teachers cheat, the authors made a compelling case of why “No Child Left Behind” is a terrible policy. Teachers had a persuasive reason to cheat and increase their student’s scores on standardized tests. They wanted to keep their jobs. Some schools were even giving cash prizes to the teacher with the highest scores. Any time you introduce a strong enough reward, people will cheat. Even Sumo Wrestlers.
Levitt & Dubner have written a second book, SuperFreakonomics, and they also have a blog and podcast. I have been catching up on past episodes and I look forward to reading their next book. Believe it or not, these guys made economics funny!