Reader Mail

Here’s what showed up in the in-box today:

You believe “economics is how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing,” What else are you going to pull out of high school economic text books? What is even more disturbing is the large amount of readers that believe this sort of drivel is in any way profound or insightful. It reminds me the way people are so rabid about Irving Norman’s “art”. I’ve only read portions of your book, but your conclusions are always predictable and anyone applying basic logic will arrive at the same conclusion. Take your “investigation” of the reason behind the fact that so many drug dealers live with their mothers. It’s because drug dealing pays less than even jobs such as short order cooks and convenience store workers. Also, drug dealing (the immoral aspects of it aside) is like any other business. Only a few rise to the top. You do have a good sham going and have found a niche that pays well for someone who apparently has limited reasoning ability.

I like that he insults us guys (the authors) and you guys (the readers) in one fell swoop. But if I were you guys, I’d be pretty ticked off: Irving Norman is, IMHO, pretty darn bad.


pvanderwaart

I'm sure it was difficult to work out what expository style would work best for Freakonomics. Your success implies you chose well, but other styles would have suited some readers better. This coot evidently responds better to a magic rabbit-out-of-a-hat approach where the reader is led in the wrong direction before the actual result is presented.

For myself, I would have preferred more info on the mathematical methods, statitics, etc. As it is, I have to trust Levitt and Dubner on their interpretation of data.

EK

Well, clearly he didn't get the point in listing 16 very good factors that "basic logic" would tell us for being a good parent for instance. The point here is obviously beyond finding reasons one's basic logic predicts: it is to find out which ones are the real ones using hard data. As a scientist, I find it remarkable that for such a complex system one can find a robust data analysis system that lets you distinguish one factor from another.

majikthise

What we need is a big publicly announced prize for an email filter that weeds out flames.

nimishbatra

What we need is a big publicly announced prize for an email filter that weeds out flames.

The Prophane X prize?

egretman

One man's flame is another man's light illuminating the stupdity of the world.

nimishbatra

I had a very nice comment posted... I think that IE ate it.

I began to rant... but then again... "don't feed the trolls."

I've only read portions of your book, but your conclusions are always predictable and anyone applying basic logic will arrive at the same conclusion.

Basic logic said the Earth is flat and the universe is centered right around little ol' planet Earth.

Guess what... it took centuries of data and data interpretation by smarter heads than this guy's to finally convince "the common sense folk" otherwise.

Take your “investigation” of the reason behind the fact that so many drug dealers live with their mothers. It's because drug dealing pays less than even jobs such as short order cooks and convenience store workers. Also, drug dealing (the immoral aspects of it aside) is like any other business.

Uhh... No. plain logic does NOT tell us anything. Without the stats, you're liable to believe that every petty street dealer runs a franchise from a cartel that's in the local wholesale business.

You're conveniently ignoring the fact that an economist is trained to FIND and LOOK INTO data. Which is what people get by means of an education.

If 'logic' alone could solve problems, you'd be solving world hunger and cancer in one swoop, since you're so logical.

Read more...

RobertSeattle

You can makes lots of money filling in the niches in our economy. The big corps can't fill them or don't care, but little guys can.

omodudu

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.H. L. Mencken

The letter is testament against 'simple logic'.

gcooley

Sounds like this guy is a follower of the John Madden school of economics. "Now this next play they're either gonna run the ball or pass the ball."

sasha

This is an insult that sounds rather a lot like a compliment. Essentially what the letter writer says is, "You are teaching your readers basic economics and doing it so well that it all seems like basic logic."

Jim V.

IMHO Freakonomics appeals to the curious. People who believe they have all of the answers are rarely curious.

davelus

I had a freind once who claimed, in utter seriousness, that one of Newton's theories was so painfully obvious as to be stupid. He asserted that he could have easily come up with it. Of course, I've yet to see him revolutionize any field, scientific or otherwise. (Has your emailer debunked popular knowledge in any field?) Once something is told to you it seems like you've known it all along. Especially when you couldn't have figured it out on your own.

ftelegdy

I'm sure this person compares school teachers to sumo wrestlers and real estate agents to the KKK on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I mean, come on, what person, applying reasonable logic, hasn't come to those comparisons by themselves?

[/sarcasm]

I suppose it makes one feel intelligent to put down the ideas of the intelligent. But, just because you feel you are something doesn't make it so.

Dignan

Wait a minte.... I'd recognize that writing style anywhere, it's Matt Groening!!!!!

slow_day

It's pretty funny, if you ask me. Levitt, why do you want to draw everyone into this argument? Gentlemen, draw your pens/swords & prepare for battle!(Hmmm...)

I've read your book from cover to cover & passed it along to others. Seems this is a person who has wasted good cyberspace droning on about topics he/she/it hasn't even prepared to debate. Maybe I'll just show up @ the next presidential debate & they'll not only let me in, I'll get an opportunity at the podium.

Not. Unless they want a good laugh. Or, is that what you are seeking? Good day, gents & ladies. Always a pleasure.:)

stuartleitch

It's incredible the things that are blindingly obvious once a really smart person points them out. The concept of zero has only been around for a thousand years, and how obvious is that! I couldn't write Hendrix's Purple Haze, but once I'v heard it it's so obvious I can't get it out of my head.

cavalaxis

I had an insightful, witty comment all planned out but stuartleitch said it far better than I could.

Well said, stuartleitch. Well said indeed.

Mcgarnicle

Funny, while reading that all i could think of was "Pilotless drone! Drone Drone Drone!".

synapticmisfires

When are obvious conclusions the right ones? Well, simple logic tells me that you can be much more sure that they are right after someone has researched it with real data. One might say that Aristotle's conclusion that a dropped rock lands because the ground is its natural state was obvious. Newton however, formulated his law of universal gravitation, and this conclusion was supported by data.

Some of the book was "obvious" some definitely wasn't, but either way, any who has any curiosity about the world in which they live would like to see both types of ideas studied rigorously.

Nolan Matthias

Sounds like one of those guys who thinks he's an expert on everything the second after it is explained to him.

I wonder if he thinks flying a fighter jet is easy due to his 1000 hours of simulator time on his Nintendo.

Nolan M