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.


Razela

What's wrong with Irving Norman?

msp

The emailing realtor doth protest too much, methinks.

vjperera

How can you start an argument against a book with, "I've only read portions of your book..." and lead into, "but your conclusions are always predictable". Our man certainly isn't an attorney. Maybe you should read more of a book than just conclusions...Criticisms aren't revolutionary (unless their Galbraiths)...ideas are.

Craig

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

Nolan M "

haha

richardmuscat

"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."

In the words of Douglas Adams: "It takes a rare mind indeed to make the hitherto nonexistent blindingly obvious"

Any valuably conclusion is always logical in hindsight - otherwise it wouldn't have any value. However, arriving at that conclusion is not necessearily as easy. I'd be interested to see whether your dear reader has any evidence of arriving at these conclusions on his or her own.

JBUDA123

but your conclusions are always predictable and anyone applying basic logic will arrive at the same conclusion.

I often say the same thing about, say, Newton's laws... It's always easy to see things as obvious after someone else has pointed them out to everyone.

MM01

I'm not sure if this really constitutes an insult. This fella just shows you how convinicing you guys (authors) were. Men, I want to be like that. Just once. Telling a story nobody ever tells and being told "I knew that." What frequently occurs to me instead is that telling a high school textbook story everybody tells and being told "I'm not sure about that."

valiantdust

I'll see omadudu's Mencken quote, and raise him a Will Rogers: "It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so."

"[A]pplying basic logic" can lead us to a lot of mutually exclusive conclusions, or just plain wrong ones sometimes.

I don't agree that the Steves' results are all "predictable", and I do have the benefit of having read the WHOLE book. But even if they were, so what? There is something useful gained from showing that what is predicted is what actually happens.

bruceh

What strikes me about that flame is the amount of venom it's loaded with despite any actual complaint. It's almost as if the writer felt the urge to lash out, and then just grabbed at anything nearby to lash with. It's not as though he substantiates his complaints in any meaningful way.

Okay, maybe he genuinely feels that your conclusions are obvious and easy. He doesn't do much to make that case, aside from claiming "It's because drug dealing pays less than even jobs such as short order cooks and convenience store workers". In other words, he's using *your own evidence* to support his claim that this such is obvious. I'm not one to fight name calling with more name calling, but the email really does read like somebody flailing blindly rather than somebody rationally setting down his complaints.

I found "Freakonomics" somewhat simplistic and a little light on the mathematic substantiation. Perhaps that's what this complainer is getting at. Despite those shortcomings, I also found it insightful, entertaining and thought-provoking. No book can be everything to all people, but I don't think anybody can credibly claim that yours didn't provide value to its readers.

Read more...

smili

But all the drug dealers drive nice cars, wear gold chains, and it's the youth that try to go straight by working at Micky D that are the one's that have it all wrong because a drug dealer makes in a day what they make in a month.

Andy from Houston

Your e-mailer seems to lack a fundamental skill which is often overlooked by intellectuals - communication.

Tell him that if he ever wants to get anywhere in life, whether its with a clerk at his local utility company or a Fortune 500 CEO, he will first need to learn not to throw temper tantrums when someone says something to which he disagrees.

volterra

Descartes vs Bacon?

Chesterfield

The person writing that letter is absoultely right, this letter has shown me that since going through the research, analyzing, thoughts, and theories put behind your work is really just common sense and much more simple than everyone thinks, that I have now become motivated to write a book. Expect it to come out whenever I figure out just how the hell to handle doing all of that and be gifted enough to put it down in writing as well as you both have. Hopefully it will be as succesful as your book, but lets not count on it.

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.