November 16, 2009

Book Short: Sloppy Sequel

Book Short:  Sloppy Sequel SuperFreakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the original Freakonomics, either.  I always find the results of “naturally controlled experiments” and taking a data-driven view of the world to be very refreshing.  And as much as I like the social scientist versions of these kinds of books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Blink (book; blog post), there’s usually something about reading something data driven written by a professional quant jock that’s more reassuring. That’s where SuperFreakonomics fell down a bit for me.  Paul Krugman has described the book in a couple different places as “snarky and contrarian.”  I typically enjoy books that carry those descriptors, but this one seemed a bit over the top for economists — like a series of theories looking for data more than raw data adding up to theories.Nowhere is this more true than the chapter on climate change.  It’s a shame that that chapter seems to be swallowing up all the public discussion about the book, because there are some good points in that chapter, and the rest of the book is better than that particular chapter, but […]


May 24, 2007

Book Short: Blogging Alone?

Book Short:  Blogging Alone? I usually only blog about business books, but since I read Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, by Robert Putnam, because of its connection to the topic of Internet community and social media, I’ll record some thoughts about and from it here. It’s an interesting read, although a little long.  Putnam’s basic thesis is that America’s social capital — the things that have brought us physically and emotionally together as a country throughout much of the 20th century such as church, voting, and participation in civic organizations like the PTA or the Elks […]