Times review of bombshell book

The New York Times has given a surprisingly positive, and un-nuanced, review to the controversial book Freakonomics.

The new book is a rather meandering series of essays which attempt to apply the dismal science to everyday life in unusual (and nonmonetary) ways. Moreover, the book has been sent free to some bloggers (not me) to get the marketing buzz going.

Unfortunately, it is so controversial that at least one blogger has spent his time tearing down the book’s arguments.

Freaknomics claims that the legalization of abortion has 1) reduced unwanted children. 2) These children as they grow up commit a disproportionately high number of crimes. Therefore 3) legalized abortion is the main reason for the lower crime rate that started in the early 1990’s.

It analyzes other topics as well: cheating by Sumo wrestlers and Chicago school teachers, the prevalence of certain given names among different ethnic groups, and the appeal of crack dealing as a career among inner city youth. The topics seem certain to upset one group or another, even many different groups for different reasons.

My ability to summarize these arguments in a blog is lacking tonight. The topics and the conclusions reached are incendiary, and I prefer to stay out of the fire these discussions will ignite.