Economists really piss people off

OK, one economist in particular. Steven Levitt is a professor of economy who applies his mad data analyzation skillz to topics not traditionally covered under “economics”. He co-authored the popular book Freakonomics, a good book and now a must-read for pseudo-intellectuals like myself. Levitt already upset some people with some of the theories posited in Freakonomics, such as the idea that the crime rate in the early 90’s was due to abortion becoming legal about 18 years earlier (thereby eliminating a large chunk of unwanted children who would have been raised in poverty and into a life of crime).

Well, ol’ Stevie just started doing a Freakonomics column/blog for the New York Times, and decided to post on the topic of what might make for an effective terrorist attack. Naturally, this got a lot of people all up in arms and thinking Levitt is some kind of traitor who is feeding ideas to them evil Al-Qaeda types. Of course, there are also plenty of people willing to defend Levitt by pointing out that a) terrorists clearly aren’t relying on our suggestions and can pull off attacks themselves, and b) talking about possible scenarios provides a better chance that we can be prepared for or thwart an attack.

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~ by mattbear on August 10, 2007.

One Response to “Economists really piss people off”

  1. The NY Times just purchased the apparently popular Freakonomics blog. I guess a steady job writing a column came along with that.

    I haven’t read the book, but I’m aware of its impact. It caused a stir in economics circles, and there were allegations that some of the logic used was faulty, but I’m sure it’s still an interesting read.

    As for writing about efficient terrorist attack scenarios, I’d say that’s a little distasteful and macabre, but not surprising given America’s fascination with police procedural shows. Picking apart the many and varied ways we can possibly check out of Hotel Life is something we’ll never stop doing, even if we condemn it at the same time.

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