e_601 - Customer Reviews 224 of 266 people found the...

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224 of 266 people found the following review helpful: Highly Overrated , December 11, 2005 By Jason Kelly "Author" This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Hardcover) I expected much more from this book, including some actual economic theory and discussion of what separates insightful research from background noise. The only thought-provoking piece in this motley collection of entertaining (to some) factoids is the one about abortion being the cause of declining crime. Beyond that, everything the book touches is either mundane or rehashed from somewhere else, primarily the New York Times article by co-author Dubner. A main premise in the book is that asking the right questions in life is important. It then proceeds to ask almost none of them. For instance, what do sumo wrestlers and teachers have in common? I guess the headline itself is good for a snicker, but then we assume that it will move on to discover some heretofore hidden connection of value to us. Don't get your hopes up. Instead, after pages of unnecessary background on educational competence testing, it is revealed that - no! - teachers have cheated to boost their students' scores. What's more, shhh, occasionally sumo wrestlers have cheated to improve a friend's ranking by letting him win. Again, shocking? Not at all. Both of these revelations have been explored before and cheating doesn't expose any commonality between teachers and sumo wrestlers that doesn't stem from both groups being merely human. People cheat. Teachers and sumo wresters are people. Therefore, they both cheat and that's what they have in common. Some groundbreaking research, eh? The authors could just as easily have chosen any arbitrary group of people, found a human trait, and then shown how both groups exhibit it. For instance, what do umbrella sellers and plumbers have in common? Both take advantage of urgent situations to charge higher prices. What do Balinese dancers and corporate lawyers have in common? Both eat smaller lunches during busy seasons. This book's subtitle is, "A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything". A more appropriate one would have been, "An Ordinary Economist Ponders Too Long About the Widely Known Side of a Few Unimportant Subjects". Randomly put together, I might add, and that's another annoying point. The book has almost no organization whatsoever. Rather than taking the time to organize the book into a logical manner, the authors joke about it being a disorganized collection of points and claim that as proof of their rogue status. If that's rogue, I'll take conventional any day. It's clear that these authors are intelligent men who probably have something worthwhile to write. Unfortunately, they didn't write it in this book. The "Freak" in Freakonomics is supposed to refer to offbeat analysis or an original perspective. Instead it refers to the strange fact that, so often in publishing, what's of lasting value goes out of print and what's fleetingly entertaining climbs the charts. You would do well to skip this one.
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e_601 - Customer Reviews 224 of 266 people found the...

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