We gave it a B+
Do Sumo wrestlers cheat? Which is a whiter name for a girl, Molly or Holly? And what do crack gangs and McDonald’s restaurants have in common? The answers to these and other seldom-asked questions are all here, in the funkiest study of statistical mechanics ever by a world-renowned economist. Crunching numbers too offbeat for Milton Friedman — KKK membership rolls, bagel sales figures, data from online dating services — Steven D. Levitt (along with coauthor Stephen J. Dubner) searches for logic in the messy mathematics of human behavior. His conclusions are often eye-opening (say it ain’t so, Sato!) and sometimes eye-popping (his theory that high abortion rates help reduce crime probably won’t get him invited to the White House anytime soon), but in the end he never really adds it all up to a cohesive or compelling sum. Still, give the prof his props: Freakonomics is a lot more fun to read than anything Friedman ever wrote.