Chicago to New York: Drop Dead

Just as blog comments are often more interesting than blog posts, I have long thought that some of the best stories in newspapers and magazines are published in the letters-to-the-editor section. The Dec. 3, 2007, edition of BusinessWeek contains one of the most fascinating letters I’ve ever seen. (Click here and then scroll down to […]

Two Good Lectures This Week If You Live in Chicago

Michael Shermer, a noted skeptic who writes a monthly column for Scientific American, is visiting the University of Chicago campus tonight to talk about his new book, The Mind of the Market. I’m halfway through the book, which explores how evolution has shaped the way people interact with the modern economy. It is extremely interesting, […]

Sin in the Second City

Rarely do I get to the end of a book and wish that it had still more chapters. On the rare occasion when this does happen, the feeling usually passes quickly. When my longing for a book persists, I know I really liked the book. By this measure (as well as any other), I loved […]

Laura Beth Nielsen Talking This Morning About Hate Crimes

My friend Laura Beth Nielsen, who is a researcher at the American Bar Foundation and a sociologist at Northwestern, is speaking today about hate crimes on Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight show, which broadcasts at 9:00 a.m. Central time. You can hear it live by clicking the “Listen Now” button near the top of the […]

The Golden Age of Chicago Prostitution: A Q&A with Karen Abbott

Sin in the Second City, a new book by Karen Abbott, offers an in-depth look at the prostitution trade in turn-of-the-century Chicago. In particular, Abbott focuses on the Everleigh sisters, two madams who ran a high-class brothel on South Dearborn Street that earned them extraordinary wealth and international fame. Abbott agreed to answer our questions […]

Should Mayor Daley Decree that All Chicago Bears Fans be Happy Tomorrow?

On the first day of class, I tell my undergraduates that if they only learn one thing in my course, I hope that it will be to recognize and appreciate the difference between correlation and causality. Most of the students laugh smugly, thinking they already know the difference. It never ceases to amaze me, however, […]

Making profits from incivility on the roads

I hardly ever drive anymore since I moved close to where I work. So whenever I do, the incivility on the roads leaps out at me. People do things in cars they would never do in other settings. Honking. Swearing. Cutting to the front of the line. And that is just my wife. The other […]

DisLocation: A new film by Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh, the amazing sociologist who was my co-author on the gangs research that we write about in Freakonomics, has a great new documentary. It will be showing on WTTW, Chicago’s PBS affiliate at Thursday, Nov. 17th, 9pm Friday, Nov. 18th, 10pm. If you don’t live in Chicago, you are out of luck, at least […]

Did Richard Daley Steal the 1960 Election for Kennedy?

I met one of (the elder) Richard Daley’s grandsons yesterday. Great guy. At the risk of poisoning a possible friendship, I just had to ask him whether his grandfather really stole the election for Kennedy in 1960 through vote fraud in Chicago. He said no. And I believe him. I once had a research assistant […]

Old-school Chicago Cheating

In Freakonomics, we talk a lot about catching cheaters using data. Based on a newspaper clipping that Stephen Stigler (a well-known professor of statistics at the University of Chicago, author of a wonderful book on the history of statistics, and son of the great Chicago economist George Stigler), there is a long history of using […]