20 November 2007

Latest Book Read

This is my latest book read, “Freakonomics” by Steven Lewitt (an Economist from Univ of Chicago) and Stephen Dubner (an author/journalist).

It is anything but a typical book on Economics. For starters, there is no main unifying theme in this book. No central idea or thread running through the book, except for the authors desire to show us that things are not always what they seem on the surface.

It is a simple to read book, and very interesting topics are covered in it. For example, much interesting insights are given on teachers marking of exam scripts, sumo wrestling, drug gangs, honesty in the marketplace, choosing of names (real story of a boy called Loser – my daughter loved this!)

It has these main teaching points:
- Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life
- Conventional wisdom is often wrong (e.g. gun is safer than the swimming pool)
- Dramatic effects often have distant causes (e.g. crime decline due to abortion)
- Experts use their info advantage to serve their own agenda
- The key is to know what and how to measure data
- Explore the hidden side of everything!

Once a while, you will stumble upon an asymmetrical book that throws what you know off the comfortable road. This is one of those books. Yet it is backed by research, not anecdotal stories. This is definitely a good worthwhile read.

What it speaks to me? Covetousness (money/incentives) makes the world go round. For us Christians, we need to remain rooted to the unchanging Word of God and serve the LORD. A 2nd reminder – explore further, dig deeper. Don’t conclude hastily.

How does “abortion giving rise to low crime rates” square with the Word? It is still wrong to kill lives. One aspect of it ‘good” does not mean that it is allowable. There are still many other things that we do not know on the whole truth and it is wiser to trust on the Word of God (Prov.3:5,6).

One similar book to this is, “The Undercover Economist” by Tim Harford. Ah, that will be my next target at the library.


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