Cite “Freakonomics,” Get Kicked Out of Class

A few days ago, we asked whether blogging is perhaps dangerous to professors seeking tenure. Here is proof that citing Freakonomics can be dangerous to your academic health as well. A reader sent in this e-mail the other day, which we now reprint in full — minus the young man’s name and college, for obvious reasons.

Dr. Levitt:

I was asked to leave a college classroom because of you.

I’m a college student and currently taking Criminology. Among the subjects we’re currently studying are Victimization. The professor uses a powerpoint presentation as an aid. We requested the powerpoint because he talked so fast and often gave statistics hard to believe. Now he shows us well documented charts, statistical numbers, and papers from different authors.

I noted he quoted some ideals from “The Changing Relationship Between Income and Crime Victimization” (specifically how poor people are now more likely to be assaulted or robbed). He specifically named Levitt as the author. Having read “Freakonomics”, I picked up on the name and readily agreed with the idea.

Later the professor asked the question: “Why did crime fall in the 1990’s?” Answers were typical: good economy, more police, etc. I offered a different view with the Roe v Wade approach. The professor immediately accused me of being all sorts of nasty things. I assured him my opinion was not loosely based, but rather well documented. He stuck back that no one in their right mind could possible prove that
case had any effect on crime in the 90’s. I answered back that one of the authors previously discussed in that very day’s discussion wrote the paper and a few follow-ups and also co-authored a book containing that assertion. The professor was so upset at losing ground in the argument that I was asked to leave the room.

Apparently college professors are the ultimate authority on classroom information but not necessarily on the subject’s actual facts.

Thanks for getting me kicked out the room! I enjoyed every minute of it!


rahulg

My political Science professor loves your book and he uses it to counter conventional wisdom all the time. He also uses the odd connections you make in order to show how the decisions made by governments may not always solve their intended problem but they solve other bigger issues. My Marketing professor is also currently reading the book and uses it as part of his lectures.

QQ

ha ha. Talk about victimization!!. What makes some teachers so insecure? (poor pay/talent/temperament/violation of the presumed heirarchy). How would you go about analyzing something like that?

Well, at least for the student's sake I hope the teacher gets himself a copy of the Freakanomics book.

crossxwill

poor kid. maybe you should send the whole department copies of your book.

Andi

Tee-hee, hee. "Thanks for getting me kicked out the room! I enjoyed every minute of it!"

Has the student realized yet, he now must write perfect essays and term paper for his Prof.? Else it's, "No 'A' for you, Wiseass!"

On the other hand, he'll always have the memory; who can put a price on that?

unknownprofessor

Cost of Freakonomics on Amazon: $15.11

Showing the rest of your class that your professor's a weenie who can't take his students disagreeing with him: priceless.

I love it when my students disagree with me. That makes class fun!

Nana

My field is English, but I'm thinking of using Freakonomics as a resource text for future compositon classes. I'm betting it will entice students into noticing the world around them and thinking about what they see in entirely different ways. Only when students have something to say can I begin to help them learn to write.

premshree

Well, there's always going to be such folks. OTOH, there'll be folks who take Freakonmonics very seriously. That's how everything in the world is anyway, so I don't think it's a big deal or anything.

Sean

We read the original paper in my law and economics class way back in 2001. In that same class, we also read the paper about the finances of the Chicago drug dealers. Pretty cool.

Ben Golub

Rock on, Steve and anonymous student : )

brafury

Oh man... Where do you go to school? Take that to the chairman of the department man, declare war on this narrow-minded professor. Whereelse can we discuss and analyze competing points of view if not in the classrooms? UNACCEPTABLE!

Bruce Hayden

I am not surprised. I got a C in an Econometrics class in B. School for pointing out where my prof couldn't do derivatives (the Calculus type). And my best friend failed a class in engineering school after debunking his prof's dissertation before the entire class. (He tried to get out of it, after making a comment that maybe things weren't that clear cut. But the prof persisted, pointing out that he was an expert in the area, having gotten his dissertation there.)

Erik Jasso

I am an undergrad student hoping to have an experience like yours.

rahulg

My political Science professor loves your book and he uses it to counter conventional wisdom all the time. He also uses the odd connections you make in order to show how the decisions made by governments may not always solve their intended problem but they solve other bigger issues. My Marketing professor is also currently reading the book and uses it as part of his lectures.

QQ

ha ha. Talk about victimization!!. What makes some teachers so insecure? (poor pay/talent/temperament/violation of the presumed heirarchy). How would you go about analyzing something like that?

Well, at least for the student's sake I hope the teacher gets himself a copy of the Freakanomics book.

crossxwill

poor kid. maybe you should send the whole department copies of your book.

Andi

Tee-hee, hee. "Thanks for getting me kicked out the room! I enjoyed every minute of it!"

Has the student realized yet, he now must write perfect essays and term paper for his Prof.? Else it's, "No 'A' for you, Wiseass!"

On the other hand, he'll always have the memory; who can put a price on that?

unknownprofessor

Cost of Freakonomics on Amazon: $15.11

Showing the rest of your class that your professor's a weenie who can't take his students disagreeing with him: priceless.

I love it when my students disagree with me. That makes class fun!

Nana

My field is English, but I'm thinking of using Freakonomics as a resource text for future compositon classes. I'm betting it will entice students into noticing the world around them and thinking about what they see in entirely different ways. Only when students have something to say can I begin to help them learn to write.

premshree

Well, there's always going to be such folks. OTOH, there'll be folks who take Freakonmonics very seriously. That's how everything in the world is anyway, so I don't think it's a big deal or anything.

Sean

We read the original paper in my law and economics class way back in 2001. In that same class, we also read the paper about the finances of the Chicago drug dealers. Pretty cool.