Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Freakonomics

I am not sure if it means I am intolerant of "other" world views, but reading a book that matches my own has overcome my general avoidance of books in general. I could describe its style as rambling, which matches my own style of argument. However, I guess that the concept of disproving some conventional wisdoms is absolutely necessary, but I would like it to go further and use the discoveries as assumptions to come to even more startling conclusions. With the abortion link, "modern" economies that attempt "prohibition" as pre Rowe vs Wade US or Romania become increasingly "unstable" due to the intergenerational positive feedbacks. I think one can come to this conclusion without necessarily coming to moral conclusions. Even as this book manages to disprove many conventional wisdoms, there are a thousand other conventional wisdoms that don't lend themselves to data mining at all. For instance, school results don't seem to be affected by changing schools, but other less measurable things are very likely to be affected. For instance, our choice of school change for our children had nothing to do with our desire for better school results, but a more subtle desire for better "life" results. It does make a mockery of peoples stated reasons for changing schools however. Every time I mention how good the reputation of the new school is, they tell or ask how many OP 1's they get. I hope that challenging conventional wisdoms becomes a worldwide habit. Other ones to work on - "War is bad", "Doctor visits make you live longer", "chicken bones should not be fed to dogs", "Global warming is the most serious global environmental problem". In that sense, does Levitt have a more important message than Lomborg? Probably. Levitt challenges conventional wisdoms overall and asks us to look at motives behind experts in general. Lomborg principally concentrates on environmental activists/experts and questions their record on excessive fearmongering and looks at a more pure economic approach, without also addressing the non-monetary aspects of environmental motives and where they may lead us both in a negative direction or a positive one.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope your Christmas was better than the one your reported on a few years ago, and that you have recovered from your Scrooge-like tendencies!

Freakonomics good.

Marco said...

Oh, my Christmas was very "merry" indeed, but my good mood wasn't quite as infectious as I'd hoped. I've been able to break my usually dismal summer mood with anti-stress techniques and relentless optimism. Kylie thought it unfair that I was happy and having a better Christmas than she was :-?

Anonymous said...

question world views:

1. feeding chicken bones to dogs.
Having had the opportunity to canvas several vets on this in a social setting, I have been plied with multiple personal stories of Mrs Bloggs coming in with a dead dog after feeding chicken bones (cooked) to the dog. Autopsy shows the shards of bone spearing out of the oesophagus on the way down and either piercing the heart or, more slowly and painfully, the lungs.
Apparently raw bones aren't as much of an issue. The cooking process makes them more brittle and harder, thus able to break into pointier bits that have greater capacity to puncture through the tissues.

At least I think it was the oesophagus...maybe it was the stomach...curse my lack of understanding of animal anatomy. I remember at least it was the lungs and heart they got to. That bit was gross enough to sear into my brain...and now yours.

Jenny

Marco said...

not convinced. There was a story my late grandfather used to tell me about when he lived in Somalia (late 1940's and 50's). There was an English colony and an Italian colony that intermingled. Guys in the English colony would frown on the Italians feeding their dogs chicken bones. He would retort that chicken bones were only dangerous to English dogs. In a long family tradition of feeding dogs chicken bones, none have died from that. Compared to the ways dogs of relatives have died lately, and not been taken to the vet, the vets have a skewed view on it. I think the gruesomeness of the rare cases lend this risk to be way overstated, compared to other risks (including other kinds of cooked bone)