Presidential Debate, Freakonomics Style?

Last night’s Presidential debate inspired speculation — albeit contradictory speculation — about whether the candidates had read a certain book:

Your thoughts?


One of the greatest strengths of Freakonomics is that the scope is mostly limited to identifying the "problem" or the "unintended consequences" or the "misaligned incentives". Dubner and Levitt stay away from drawing conclusions that call for policy initiatives/changes. It's been my experience from the commenting body of this blog that people draw radically different conclusions from the same data, or, there is an underlying bias that supersedes any logical conclusion of the data.


It is very interesting how different the interpretations are... I guess, I would point again the the mantra "Correlation isn't causation." We have a very complex and interrelated set of factors: family structure, personal economics, violence, individual psychology, neighborhood dynamics, etc...

In physics, there is the double pendulum. It exhibits very chaotic motion with just two degrees of freedom. See:

Without a lot of good data and some complex math, it is very difficult to solve for either the location of the pendulum or the casual relationships of family and violence.

Jon Hersh

It seems that the book freakonimics has become to economics what the bible is to morality: a catch all reference reflecting what one wants to be true about the subject. (I personally loved the chapter about monetary policy.)

The debate did mention guns. Maybe that's it.


Well, they didn't touch on aborted criminals and the sparkling prospects of African-Americans named "Barry", so that was interesting.