Humans or freaks?

I wasn’t a fan of 

and it sounds like the new Dubner and Levitt book,
, is one to skip, at least judging from this review by David Runciman (author of the marvellous
). The freakiness of 
is what bothered me. What that book really did was apply the assumptions and quantitative methods of economics to all sorts of social questions.

It was the logical extension of the 

approach, the economic imperialism of claiming non-economic subjects for economic analysis. And while this cast an interesting, and accurate, light on many subjects, I think it went too far. It is interesting to understand the economic aspect of marriage choices, but wrong to claim this is the most important aspect. On this I’m with Ha-Joon Chang’s
. (I’m part way through.) Economics is (mainly) about the economy, and while there is a fuzzy boundary between the economy and society, the Freakonomics world oversteps it.

Tim Harford has a terrific column about this, reflecting on Becker’s legacy after his death the other week. He’s more positive about Becker’s influence.

[amazon_image id=”1846147557″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Think Like a Freak: How to Think Smarter about Almost Everything[/amazon_image]   [amazon_image id=”0226041123″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Economic Approach to Human Behavior[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0070067090″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immigration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Life[/amazon_image]   [amazon_image id=”0226041026″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism[/amazon_image]


3 thoughts on “Humans or freaks?

  1. We are going through a huge massive information overload. It is time to start developing something like the Universal Debating Project, and be able to think more objectively, and fairly…The UDP is my other project, apart from Transfinancial Economics.

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