Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Page Turners - Freakonomics


In all my experimentation with Facebook, I forgot to post about the book we discussed at our meeting last week. This was Freakonomics, by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner.

I've been describing it to people as a book about real life, and the underlying economics that drive it. It has chapters entitled "What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?" and then proceeds to explain that the fundamental similarity is that both groups can be persuaded to cheat, given the right incentive.

Or "Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?", which turns out to be because there's only big bucks to be made in drugs if you're at the top of the pyramid.

This book was definitely interesting, but I felt it over-laboured each point -- as might be inferred by the fact I can summarise each chapter in one sentence. Our discussion ranged all over, dancing from topic to topic, resting for a while on the "nature vs nurture" debate that took up the 5th and 6th chapters. (The outcome being that "nature", ie genetics, seems to be the winner if it's school grades in question.)

Nevertheless, a worthwhile addition to the bookshelf.

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