Freakonomics Has Always Been DumbS

Everyone is all mad at Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner for including a hilariously wrong chapter on climate change in the sequel to their famous book Freakonomics, but some of us have been on the hating-those-dudes train forever.

Steven Levitt is probably a Very Good Economist, but he has proven again and again and again that this Using Economics To Explain The World thing is utter bullshit. And he and Dubner invented this pop-econ trend that is the most annoying application of make-believe science since pop-psychology. At least pop-psychology gave us Hitchcock movies! All we can hope for from these two is a shitty Soderbergh movie in which the twist is that becoming a gay serial killer was a rational consumer choice.

So. The first book, in its attempt to be interesting, was a series of Slate-y unexpected conclusions that seemed to have been reached before they went to the trouble of misapplying a bunch of research. Conventional wisdom wrong! Abortion good!

Their baby name chapter was not refuting "conventional wisdom" unless your idea of mainstream consensus is a racist talk radio joke—and their list of names that should be skyrocketing in popularity is about 50% correct, which is how well you'd do if you took a "throwing darts at the most popular baby names" list approach to predictions. The abortion chapter completely misrepresented research on the Romanian abortion ban. The bit on the KKK was based on the exaggerated, unscientific tall tales of beloved old activist Stetson Kennedy.

In other words, like most pop science, it was not very scientific. And furthermore, neoclassical microeconomics is just as flawed a method of examining individual behavior as Freudian psychology.

In the sequel book, they've taken the "conventional wisdom is wrong!!!!" thing too far. Drunk driving good! Curtailing carbon emissions bad!

Now, primarily because of the stupid climate change chapter, a bunch of people who formerly would've defended Levitt and Dubner are calling them irresponsible morons. Which is great! But the book will still sell a zillion copies and now a bunch of idiots will have all these completely wrong but controversial things to say about global warming at parties, which will be annoying.