Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Now that I've finished all my economics exams (for IB at least), I think it's only fitting that I do a post related to economics, and incidentally, I've also finished this book today, the same day my exams end.

Now, there are "boring" business books in this world, and they tend to be read by three types of people: the first type are the people who have to, such as students doing research papers; the second type are those who try to show off, who want to be able to give a cheem (deep)/impressive answer to the question "what are you reading?". The final type of people are like me, who being boring people, read these kinds of books like fun. The books tend to have names that begin with words like "Harvard Business Review...."

But Freakonomics is a different matter entirely. Despite being about a "rogue" economics, it's actually a very fun read that reminds me of Malcom Gladwell's books. He covers many topics, and makes quite a few controversial stances, such as the famous one on how abortion leads to a lower crime rate.

It's funny, and entirely fitting I suppose, that I can't identify a single economic theory in the book. He does say, however, that he's terrible at theory. In fact, on of the enriched/added chapters of the book deals with how he perceives himself, being that when called a sociologist instead of an economist, the look of horror on the face of the sociologists was enough to prove that he probably wasn't one.

Going back to definitions (which remember students, are the bedrock towards more marks), economics is the "study of how society uses scarce resources to satisfy unlimited human needs and wants." Going back to the basics, I feel, always makes things clearer. Of course, this book is about economics, he's looking at how we use the resources to get what we want, and how the externalities (econs-speak for third-party effects) affect us all.

This actually reminds me of how sometimes, we tend to let the details obscure the truth. The Business and Management notes I have by the school begin by saying something along the lines of "Business is taking things, turning them into something else and selling them at a higher price. Now you know the whole syllabus and the rest is just details."

The rest is just details.

That is really a wonderful phrase (and the only one I didn't have to paraphrase because I actually remembered it). I think next time we feel swamped with things, we should just remember the important things such as

I'm writing this blog because I love books, not because of followers. The rest of the blog are just details.

I'm here on earth because God has a purpose for me. The rest of my life are just details.

Think about it, how much simpler, and less stressful, could our lives be if we knew what we were focusing on, instead of getting distracted by red herrings.

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