The Worst Review Ever?

Here’s what New York Magazine‘s year-end roundup thinks of Freakonomics: “This book has no thesis, an annoying title, a phony humility, and sundry other grating tropes.”

Pretty grim, huh? But in fact the magazine gave Freakonomics a 2005 Culture Award. Here’s the rest of the blurb: “Yet it makes such interesting arguments and compiles such counterintuitive data that you can’t help but hang a medal around its neck. Economics, it turns out, can become quite a readable subject when writers connect the Ku Klux Klan to car prices or cheating schoolteachers to sumo wrestling.”

Still, I’d hate to see the first sentence of the blurbs of the books that didn’t get awards. This reminds me of a question I was asked by a radio interviewer in London a few weeks ago. It wasn’t really a question, in fact, rather a statement: “So,” he said, “your book has been called absolutely brilliant and incredibly annoying at the same time.” My answer to him — and to Franklin Foer of New York Magazine as well — is that Freakonomics is surely not as brilliant as some people think, but hopefully not quite as annoying either.

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 8

View All Comments »
  1. mikej says:

    No thesis? I thought the thesis was obvious — people respond to incentives. The incentives might be straightforward economic incentives or they might be less obvious (opportunity costs), but you can reliably expect that people will respond to incentives they face. (Less subtly, microeconomic analysis explains many things.)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. mikej says:

    No thesis? I thought the thesis was obvious — people respond to incentives. The incentives might be straightforward economic incentives or they might be less obvious (opportunity costs), but you can reliably expect that people will respond to incentives they face. (Less subtly, microeconomic analysis explains many things.)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. GamblingEconomist says:

    So are they saying that the writing was bad but the ideas were good???

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. GamblingEconomist says:

    So are they saying that the writing was bad but the ideas were good???

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. bncthor says:

    People are reading Freaknomics that have never thought about the value of the discipline. And, they are reading it. That is the real value of the book.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. bncthor says:

    People are reading Freaknomics that have never thought about the value of the discipline. And, they are reading it. That is the real value of the book.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0