Friday, July 06, 2007


"Mr. Lott offers so many fascinating theories that the "Freedomnomics'" ideas-per-page ratio is more daunting than that of the frothy "Freakonomics," which Mr. Levitt's writing partner, journalist Stephen J. Dubner, optimized to not tax tired travelers' oxygen-deprived brains at 35,000 feet...

Mr. Lott argues that Messrs. Levitt and Mr. Dubner "portray America's free market as a cut-throat environment in which consumers are constantly swindled by so-called experts. Habitually attributing economic anomalies to some kind of scam, the pair don't seem to realize that market forces exist that punish dishonest behavior." This is somewhat overstated — "Freakonomics" is too attention-deficit disordered to have much of a theme beyond promoting Mr. Levitt as a "rogue" genius. Nonetheless, Mr. Lott's chapter on how the market encourages good behavior by penalizing bad reputations is insightful. "

Read more here.

The real puzzle, according to the author, is that:

If the free market is so wonderful, how did "Freakonomics" become the nonfiction publishing sensation of the decade?

"Maybe the book market rewards truth-telling less than helping customers feel good about themselves? To paraphrase the famous quote by Adam Smith about butchers, bakers and brewers with which Mr. Lott launches "Freedomnomics," "It is not from the benevolence of the economist, the journalist, or the publisher that we expect our cheesy bestsellers, but from their regard to their own interest." "


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