Friday, December 14, 2007

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

Sixty Million Frenchman Can't Be Wrong, by Jean-BenoƮt Nadeau and Julie Barlow.

All about French history, culture, and government, contrasting them to their North American equivalents.


Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

Freakonomics is a short, extremely quick-to-read book which explains why many things are the way they are using sometimes counterintuitive reasoning.

By way of example, many people attributed the drop in crime in the US in the 1990s to factors such as improved policing and economic growth. Freakonomics posits that the drop in crime was really due to Roe v. Wade, some twenty years earlier.

Freakonomics covers many other topics besides, of course. There is room for "sequels"; for any phenomenon, there are many possible explanations. Levitt's explanations tend to be more interesting, and quite possibly more accurate, than conventional wisdom.

This book has spawned imitators. There are many blogs devoted to questioning conventional wisdom. Some are good; others are written by abject pseudointellectuals.