Freakonomics: Scholarship in the Service of Storytelling
AbstractFreakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is certainly popular. Indeed, my search for something comparable took me back more than 120 years.-super-1 Even with the uncertainty about what constitutes a best seller, it is clear that the book has reached a huge audience, especially for a book about "economics." As I write this, it has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 46 weeks, and having started on the Publisher's Weekly Hardcover Nonfiction best-seller list in the 12th position on April 25, 2005, it has hovered in the top ten thereafter. Moreover, as reported on the Freakonomics web site, the book has garnered a large international audience, and the book is on various "best of" lists. Levitt and Dubner have sought a broad and diverse audience for their collection of stories: Levitt has been on "The 700 Club" (a talk show by conservative businessman and religious broadcaster Pat Robertson) and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (a center--left parody of the news and news reporting) among other places. Both the authors write a column for the New York Times Magazine as well as participate in an active blog (just navigate from the book's web site to the URL http://www.freakonomics.com, where, among other things, they respond to a large number of readers' inquiries-super-2). The book comes complete with more than 20(!) pages of references and citations as diverse as a radio talk show caller's unverified claim that her niece was named "Shithead" (pronounced SHUH-teed) as well as Kenneth Arrow's "A Theory of Discrimination" and includes a two-and-a-half page tabulation of average years of mother's education by child's first name. The extensive footnotes should not mislead: Freakonomics does not take its subjects very seriously. In Freakonomics, Levitt's scholarship and the scholarship of others are put in the service of telling a "good story" rather than the other way around. Indeed, if the many reviews of the book are any guide, many find the book "entertaining" even if they felt that "Levitt's only real message is to encourage confrontational questions" (Berg, 2005). One reviewer found the stories so compelling that he went so far as to suggest that "criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae" (Landsburg, 2005). Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.
Volume (Year): 8 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK
Fax: 01865 267 985
Web page: http://www.aler.oupjournals.org/
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.