Thursday, April 13, 2006


Today I shall devote this little space here to the book Freakonomics. As I had mentioned before, it is a GREAT book... so great that I requested them to send me a bookplate... and to my delightful surprise, they did so after a few months. So, to celebrate the success of Freakonomics's one year, I am doing a little promotion for them here.

He [Levitt] had an interview for the Society of Fellows, the venerable intellectual Harvard clubhouse that pays young scholars to do their own work, for three years, with no commitments. [...] Finally-disquietingly-one [a fellow] of them said: "I'm having a hard time seeing the unifying theme of your work. Could you explain it?"

Levitt was stymied. He had no idea what his unifying theme was, or if he even had one. Amartya Sen, the future Nobel-winning economist, jumped in and neatly summarized what he saw as Levitt's theme.
Yes, Levitt said eagerly, that's my theme.
Another fellow then offered another theme.
You're right, Levitt said, that's my theme.
And so it went, like dogs tugging at a bone, until the philosopher Robert Nozick interrupted. If Levitt could have been said to have an intellectual hero, it would be Nozick.
"How old are you, Steve?" he asked.
Nozick turned to the other fellows: "He's 26 years old. Why does he need to have a unifying theme? Maybe he's going to be one of those people who's so talented he doesn't need one. He'll take a question and he'll just answer it, and it'll be fine."

Yes... that is Steven Levitt. [Read more about the above]

Overall, its a good book, thought provoking and fun. I hope they will publish a follow up book.

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