Change Society: Controversial Questions In Freakonomics

1809 words - 8 pages

Yet another argument against Levitt and Dubner is the outcry surrounding the processes used to devise their controversial conclusions. While many opponents challenge the nature of the studies, people like Charles Jobs said their statistical methods were wrong. He illustrates how Freakonomics suggests “socioeconomic situations which violate a normative standard involving real life situations” (Jobs). He cites the naming study, which challenges the fabric of many people’s core beliefs and is viewed by many as unethical. Jobs attacked the virtue of the study by citing Levitt and Dubner’s conclusion of how “a person with a distinctively black name… does have a worse life outcome than a woman named Molly or a man named Jake” (119). He was just one of the many outspoken critics who claimed the study had no true bearing on possible events.
Others, like Michat Brezezski and Maria Halber, have examined the studies first hand and found “the coefficients’ estimates in abortion-crime regressions [were] not computationally stable and, therefore, are unreliable” (Brezezski and Halber). These critics affirmed Levitt and Dubner’s research was wrong in more than its moral character through their analysis. Unfortunately, these critics did not understand the purpose of the book. They drew conclusions undermining the purpose of Freakonomics and instead focus on the specifics of each study.
Freakonomics should be viewed as a form of questioning the world. Not as “an excellent subject for more rigorous analysis” but rather as an example of literature used to present information to the general public (Jobs). For example, although Charles Jobs critiques many Freakonomic studies, he discovered the importance a certain mindset can have in a classroom. This Freakonomics form of examination illustrates the positive aspects of a skeptical mindset.
In one of Jobs’ many research papers, he talks about how approaching problems with a Freakonomics mindset “creates better retention and appreciation for economic concepts in today’s undergraduate students” (Jobs). This same research paper examined the impacts chapters had on different students. The most notable example is how the “crack-gang chapter” was the most appealing to urban students (Jobs). By ignoring the individual studies within the book, Jobs compiled practical research. For his study, he ignored controversial opinions presented in the book, including the statement of: “For kids growing up in a housing project… crack dealing was a glamour profession” (66). In doing so Jobs discovered a way to teach students more efficiently. Putting Freakonomics (or Peakonomics as Job’s called it) into practice shows how viable the book’s ideas are to critics who disapprove of the book’s ideas. Hopefully, more critics “hope that future works in the pop-statistics genre will continue to impart a sense of the fun and importance… while more clearly recognizing the uncertainty and complexity inherent in scientific...

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