Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explores the abnormal truths behind many of today’s issues. Using the core principles of economics and a large sum of data, Freakonomics gives seemingly outlandish yet logical answers to topics ranging from cheating school teachers to the link between abortion and the dropping crime rate.
Steven D. Levitt is a notable Economics professor at the University of Chicago and no doubt the root of the economic viewpoint throughout the book. Stephen J. Dubner is an accomplished writer with a portfolio consisting of Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son’s Return to His Jewish Family, Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, and The Boy With Two Belly Buttons.
Although the authors admit the book has no central theme, it does seem to at least center on the fundamental idea that ‘incentives are the cornerstone of modern life.’ (Dubner, Levitt 11) Referring to this idea throughout the book, Dubner and Levitt are able to effectively piece together seemingly unrelated entities into a logical cause and effect correlation. Freakonomics utilizes data, mostly their own findings and some outside sources, in order to support their assumptions. While many of their findings are not published in the book, much of it is cited in the notes section. Although the book is very direct and written in a language accessible to variety of readers the target audience is most likely intelligent individuals with an interest in new and different ways of thinking. From beginning to end the book effectively engages the reader as it takes twists, turns and tumbles before reaching the incredible truths. The book taunts the reader as it goes from telling us that the world is black to that it might be white to no it is actually green. While this may be frustrating to some readers I found the structure to be quite refreshing from the usual bore of informational books. It is apparent from the introduction to the end of the book that the true intent of Levitt and Dubner was to shake our conventional ways of thinking in order to give us a new prospective on the approach we take in solving life’s questions. With the use of ‘an honest assessment of the data’, Levitt and Dubner succeed in leaving us with ‘new and surprising insight.’ (Levitt, Dubner 11)