Levitt and Dubner use the argument that economics is a study of incentives hence the correlation between economics and non-traditional economics topics. Levitt who is a recipient of the John Bates Clark medal is considered among the crème of the economists in America while Dubner if a former writer and editor for the New York Times magazine.
The two met when Dubner was doing a profile of Levitt for an article in the magazine. The arguments in their book appear to be interesting and well thought out and are often presented as provocative questions. Levitt shows that though convenient, conventional wisdom is not the only way to tackle a problem. This implies that the solution to our problems lies in asking the right questions.
Freakonomics uses persuasion rhetorically to influence the readers into seeing the situations from the authors’ perspective. For example the daycare center scenario uses moral persuasion. When the parents had to pay extra for the occasions they were late to pick up their children, they felt morally obligated to be punctual.
In the case where there was a standard fee to include the fine for being late, more parents ended up being late. There was a lack of incentive to avoid paying the fine thus more parents cared less for observing punctuality (Levitt & Dubner. 2005). The use of metaphors is another rhetoric device that has been used to explain the hidden meanings in day-to-day life.
For example though people say they are giving you the best deal, the reality is that the best deal they are selling may be inclusive of their cut with little if any expense to their account. Another major rhetoric device is the use of subtopics. The chapters are broken down into topics or questions which are asked to explain or answer the variety of questions in the book.
The book was to fulfill the need to re-examine the norms and conventional wisdom in favor of more effective and personalized solutions. The effectiveness of the book is based on the extent to which the readers mind opens up to prod, question and explore the possibilities in their daily routines. The authors’ succeed in persuading the readers to sympathize with their thoughts on a variety of subjects. A good example is the bagel delivery man.
Readers can sympathize with him for being exploited for being nice by the people he delivers the free bagels (Levitt & Dubner. 2005). The book has been critiqued and categorized as sociology or criminology piece of work rather than the traditional economics. Economists have cited its ambiguity in analysis as a major hindrance to it being taken seriously in the traditional economists’ circles.
Though Levitt is a good economist with a good mastery of the economic tools, his conclusions are rather ordinary. They are tailored for the mainstream reader rather than the academic ones with a bias toward his version of correct answers, not those of the reader.
Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2005). Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York: William Morrow.