Search the Site

Is Freakonomics an Anti-Aphrodisiac?

Freakonomics is apparently something of a black cat. It’s gotten students thrown out of class. It’s gotten a tech consultant thrown off his job. But now the news is even worse: Freakonomics has thwarted love.

Here’s the story, in an e-mail we received recently from a guy named Phil:


I was recently dating a girl. Nothing serious, but I thought it was going okay. We had just seen a movie, and were on our way back to her place, when she noticed I was carrying around Freakonomics (I was reading it on the subway). Suddenly, she said “we have to talk,” and we were no longer headed back to her place. Turns out, she just met another guy who was also reading Freakonomics. That one coincidence was enough to weird her out, and she now needed to sort herself out. First of all, thanks for nothing. Second, is there anything to be learned from this (like what are the odds of this happening)? Someone might as well benefit from this.

Poor Phil! Here’s what I wrote back to him:

Oh, man. That’s sad. First of all: sorry. Second of all: was she weirded out because she thinks that someone who reads that book is a loser, or because the coincidence was just too much to bear? And third of all: I guess next time, you should carry around a softy romantic novel on your dates.

To which Phil replied:

I don’t know if the coincidence was “too much to bear,” but I guess it was part of a series of coincidences that were leading up to her re-examining her situation with this other guy. I didn’t dig too deep.

All I know is that I debated whether I should bring the book with me and have to carry it around with me all night, and decided there was no reason not to. Just trying to figure out how “risk=hazard+outrage” applies to this.

Any advice for Phil?