Tonight I finished reading a terrific book by economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner titled “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything”. Steven mines data to answer very interesting questions. Does reading to your child make a difference? Do drug dealers make a lot of money? If so, why do they live in government housing projects with their mom? Does charging parents who pick up their child late from daycare reduce the frequency of tardy parents? The answers will probably surprise you.
This book will almost certainly go a long way to cure the reader of naivety. Skeptical analysis of causal relationships in “conventional wisdom” is certainly something this world needs more of. One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that the authors don’t claim to be subject-matter experts on the topics they write about. Instead they scour the data and use statistical analysis to glean unexpected answers.