Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Freakonomics Redux

For anyone who has been following this blog since March, you may remember the Octogan's strong endorsement for Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. While I was skeptical of the book, I did declare that it was one my short reading list.

Unfortunately, the Bar exam and the Harry Potter anthology (which I highly recommend) got in the way. But now I can say that I've read Freakonomics. While I can't say I was "wowed," I recommend this one.

While I found a lot of their analysis to be a bit superficial, I am a big fan of the effort they put forth. In a lot of ways, the use and presentation of data was very similar to that found in Moneyball, another favorite of TPB. That is, it took ordinary issues (such as education, parenting, sumo wrestling, etc.) and subjected them to some data-based scrutiny.

Of course data can be misused or used selectively to achieve a certain result. But the bigger theme--to question conventional wisdom and to always look at the data--is a valuable lesson and what readers of Freakonomics should really walk away with.

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