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Is it Freakonomics or is it cuteonomics?

18 Oct

UPDATE: A few more links added for further and detailed reading, see list below.

I’ve recently started to read Freakonomics and obeying the rules of synchronicity (is this Fringe science or what, anyway!), as the authors published their new book ‘Superfreakonomics’, I started to realize how problematic their case and style is. So I simply note down some criticisms I have just discovered via reliable sources:

- Language Log: Freakonomics: the intellectual’s Glenn Beck?

- Andrew Gelman’s blog on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science: My review of Freakonomics 2

- The New Republic: Does “Superfreakonomics” Need A Do-Over?

- The Daily Dish: Not So Superfreak

- The New Republic: Freaks and Geeks; How Freakonomics is ruining the dismal science.

- The New Republic: Revenge of the Nerd

- Conscience of a Liberal (Paul Krugman): A counterintuitive train wreck

- Six Questions for Levitt and Dubner (More Superfreakonomics Blogging)

I started to think what we need is to start a kind of meta-criticism, or maybe observe and understand the recent trends that lead to books like Freakonomics, Tipping Point, etc. Just another idea to think about as time goes by…

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 18, 2009 in General

 

4 responses to “Is it Freakonomics or is it cuteonomics?

  1. Ozlem Derici

    October 18, 2009 at 19:12

    I think they (books like Freakonomics, Tipping Point, etc) mostly emerge from the desperation that economics as a science gets far behind explaining the real world, new economy, new normal by the day. Not that I`m saying there is a need for new economics theory but there is a certain need for someone wise enough to interpret what is going on under dynamically changing environment without blurring others` minds with complicated calculations. Maybe economics is entering into public life just as physics or chemistry did centuries ago. Everyone knows that when s/he drops an apple, it would fall due to gravity even if s/he never took a science lesson in his/her life.

     
  2. Emre Sevinc

    October 18, 2009 at 19:19

    Everyone knows an apple falls and there is some kind of attraction between the apple and the Earth however it took a genius and some complicated (integral and differential analysis were complicated enough when they were invented) math to discover what the hell was going on universally. Not some kind of popular book writing that says “hey, look, apples are falling and maybe the very world we’re living on is responsible for it, cool, isn’t it.” and some more anecdotes with some terminology thrown in to whet readers’ appetite.

    Thinking of popularity, I guess Einstein was more popular than either Levitt or Gladwell however he was not giving any easy answers to grand problems even in his pop-science books.

     
  3. Ozlem Derici

    October 18, 2009 at 23:07

    You right of course, what I’m trying to say is that Einstein and other geniuses works are valuable because they entered people’s daily lives, people other than academicians understand their findings without any technical background. But in economics (maybe because it is too early for such a new science) that’s not the case. It’s far above people’s understanding. That’s why I find those people’s work important. They are not genius and probably will never be as valuable as any mathematician but it is good to see some people showing practical uses of what theory suggests and interpret it to ordinary people.

     

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