How Tough a Place Is the University of Chicago?

Just about every university has an alumni magazine, and they all follow the same tried-and-true recipe: highly partisan stories touting the wonderful accomplishments of the faculty, students, athletics, and alumni.

I had always thought of my university’s alumni magazine as being cut from the same cloth.

Until I read the most recent issue, that is.

The cover story is entitled “Chicago Schooled.” It is an examination of the recent financial crisis and its implications for the free-market ideas associated with the Chicago School of Economics. It is an interesting read, and while not so critical of Chicago economics, it is far from the usual rah-rah stuff.

What really caught my attention, however, was a page-long sidebar inserted into that article with a headline that reads “Sumo Wrestlers Are Big, But Are
They a Big Question?
” The question this sidebar sets out to answer is whether or not I, Steve Levitt, ruined economics! The answer, at least according to some of my colleagues quoted in the article, turns out to be “yes.”

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  1. Paul says:

    How did they conclude that you ruined economics?

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  2. Wes says:

    Saying ‘Freakonomics’ ruined economics would be like saying ‘The DaVinci Code’ ruined theology. It’s entertainment… designed to make one think outside the dogma of the study.

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  3. Legin says:

    Well don’t represent what is wrong with economics – Stuck in the Mud thinking!

    I only hope the stopped to thing that in the environment they were once living in, their own work was once considered outrageous as well!

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  4. Joe Smith says:

    If one nerd (no offense) can ruin economics then there wasn’t much there to begin with.

    The real problem that economics has is that the mainstream did not predict the housing bubble / financial meltdown and apparently has nothing useful to say about the current problems.

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  5. Caitlin says:

    Sitting in a required Micro-econ class, I was assigned Freakonomics as part of the course reading. I have to say that your book changed the way I though about econ, and even made me stretch myself to go on to take such classes as Game Theory and others. I realized that some basic exposure to economic way of thinking is really a good way to be able to reason out any number of situations and choices. So, bravo for your work, as I think it has made economics interesting rather than ruined it!

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  6. science minded says:

    In response to your question, I would say–not tough enough. The problem is not so much that Steve ruined economics, it is that the science of Economics has yet to come to terms with its history and that Steve Levitt was facilitating the process whereby this is made possible. So, in that sense, his contribution was towards securing a place for Economics among the Social Sciences– in the sense of enabling a sociologist to make obvious the bit of a paradigm shift and “discipline” that is required from the start. This should be enough– but if not– keep in mind– the real principle of “4 degrees of freedom.”

    Goldstein, 2009

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  7. DaveyNC says:

    If sparking a greater interest in economics is failure, then you are an utter failure.

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  8. frankenduf says:

    well, it depends what’s worse- ruining the world or ruining sumo wrestling

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