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Freakonomics, written by economist Bill Reichstag and sloucher Art Sanders, is a self-described monogram on "the hidden side of, well, whatever I can think of." Its statements are offensive, unorthodox, and shocking: everything the public wants. It unabashedly has no literary purpose or direction, and no unifying theme except disorganisation. Naturally, it is a long-running best-seller.
Finding money, stocks, and inflation too restrictively well-documented, the authors fled to subjects the principles of the dismal science were never before bent to fit. Thanks to this shrewdness, no one could safely call them foul for their predictions on the fluctuations in value of prison cigarettes against the knife standard, or rebut their theories on how the fear of AIDS infection affects army enlistment. Free from the assaults of critics, the authors were free to promulgate their ideas, not to mention make bank-loads of money.
- How crack addicts are like pine trees
- Why does my soup always go cold?
- How chewing gum is like a personal trainer
- Why are authors still living with their moms?
- Save the world: abort your baby
- What does heavy machinery have to do with birthday balloons?
- How is a raven like a writing desk?
- You're a bad parent
- You're still a bad parent
- What would the impact on the market be if you could turn lead into gold.
- Correction: Our major source wasn't a Gundam pilot in East Berlin
edit Chapter 4
In 2001, .1% of employees received pinkslips. That may not seem like a very large figure, but remember that the population of the United States is over 60,000,000. Taking .1% of 60,000,000, or on a pocket calculator, 6X10^7X.1X.01, we get almost 3 million people. What's more, that figure grew by 2% in the last 3 years. Again, this may not sound like much, but put yourself in the shoes of an employer. If you need to fill a job space, you will need exactly one person. Now imagine there are 100 to choose from. Then you can afford to be selective.
Conventional wisdom has always held that layoffs reduce affluence, and not the other way around. You lay people may say something along the lines of, "Dat and dat canst never come in a mile o' one 'nuther," but we economists like to say these events are negatively correlated. However, we must be careful not to confuse correlation with cause. A thing causes another thing if they have a direct relationship. For example, gutting a pig for its guts does not cause a full moon. In fact, the moon is never full during a pig gutting. This was the error in logic employed by the mayor of Chicago when he sent food to starving people and clean water to thirsty people.
Now, we economists are trained to use anecdotal evidence to gain insights. What if I told you that low affluence actually causes layoffs? That's the anecdotal opinion of a Where's Waldo? backissue salesman by the name of Francis McCormick. In an interview, he told us that sales by his business fell during the winter, and rose during the summer. Is it any accident that, at one corporation, Ergoso Tech, the layoffs fell during the summer and got worse during the winter? What's more, this was at exactly the time Ergosoco went bankrupt. Coincidence? I think not.
edit Chapter 6
Let's say the smelter in the industrial town where you work has run out of petroleum. From this we can easily infer some kind of oxygen shortage will come about. Now, we economists love data. It's what fuels our furnaces, drives our cars, and roofs our houses. Using the tools of economics we can discover tremendous things, if we are just led around blind by the data, abandoning common sense and stepping off a cliff if we have to. Let's apply these tools to this situation, and see what they tell us:
Number of confirmed ghost sightings in 2002 Chrome smelter outgases (tonnes) 0 402 1 491 0 314 0 149 1 418 3 1049 0 102 1 93 2 151 0 399 1 551 5 N/A 0 302 1 493 2 198 0 -12 0 129 0 922 1 243 0 11
Notice any patterns in those data? You should. If you don't, than you should probably get a degree in economics. Look at the bolded lines in the listing, which by the way, took up a large amount of space in this book. Outgassing clearly increased along with the ghost attacks. Now, you may think, "That was because of better clear-air technology" or "Those were just downswings in the quality of exorcisms." However, increased outgassing correlates with better ore refining, and more ghost attacks correlate with less oxygen (because ghosts breathe, of course).
Perhaps you've heard the expression, "When a tornado flaps its wings in Texas, the resulting air currents can kill a butterfly in Florida." This situation is exactly the same. Eat a strawberry, and you're suffocating thousands of innocent blue-collar workers.
So clearly this is why authors live with their mom and not inside smelters.
Soon after Freakonomics, the most spectastic economical tour roller coaster since Adam Smith's The Orgy of the Individual, topped the charts, the U.S. government scrambled to discover the secret to the brothers' success and how to apply it to the reduction of tax return mis-filings. The Supreme Book Club, which was thrown this bone, came to a simple conclusion.
People wanted a new economy handbook for a new generation, one that wouldn't bore or bury the reader with references, studies, or 'depth.' Freakonomics painted a new public image of the roving economist, slinking down public laneways with his stethoscope on the voltage of the nation's water mains, ready to plug the leaks with chewing gum, and titrate out the lead solder of poverty to the precipitate of perspective. Readers were bedazzled with entirely out-of-place tales of bravery, such as the one about the UVOC sophomore-cum-explorer who 'embedded' himself in the frozen wilderness for a month just to find out exactly how crack addicts are like pine trees. (He learned much more than "they smell fresh and fall over," but you'll have to read the book.) Or the story of the Prussian diplomat who single-handedly brought gun violence to America.
Above all else, the book gave readers a chance to indulge in their own guilty politics, by pausing at every turn to take a pot shot at the sitting president. For example, behind the discussion of how bobbin size affects the upholstery market lay the shadow of Roosevelt's 'New Deal' with the devil.
The book was so successful, however, that by the time the Club had completed its analysis, the ideas in Freakonomics had not only eliminated mis-filings, but the very tax system itself. The Club found itself stripped of its mandate and relegated to public broadcasting.
edit Corporate reception
The reception from large corporations was initially poor. Once they adjusted their rabbit ears, however, the views in Freakonomics began to take root. Since it was simultaneously true that anything can affect anything else and that nobody can change anything at all, executives went slightly mad. They fired half their staff, told the other half to be careful of the fax machine because it could start a war in Vietnam, then retired to their penthouse offices and framed their favourite paradoxes while simultaneously not doing so. This was such catharsis for CEOs that they decided to implode, creating black holes that devoured the entire Seattle area. For the first time, Vietnam was at war.
edit Wait, I'm from Seattle
That's a common misconception.
edit I'm from Vietnam and there's no war
You'd think so, wouldn't you? Besides, you don't have a computer. *poof*
edit Reaction by parents
Initially, gun purchase spiked as parents bought their children handguns while erecting chain-link fences around their pools. Parents in rich areas, realising that nothing they do could change the statistically superior performance of rich kids throughout life, decided to stop feeding, clothing, or educating them. Fans of the book even went so far as to give their children power tools on their birthday in lieu of birthday balloons, because the plastic in balloons was made with oil which humanity could better use for construction. Within weeks, the police in several states discovered thousands of "water balloons" full of gasoline littering city streets, along with condoms from the underage sex that had taken the place of violent video games.
edit A sequel
The original book was so popular that one of the authors wrote a sequel, Geekonomics. This edition focused more on the crucially relevant and absolutely riveting properties of MMORPGs, and their implications for real-life T-shirt marketers' bottom lines. A major critic was quoted as saying of the opus, "It will revolutionise the way we think of the economies of the walk from the teleport-in site to the sub-quest objective point. And I had no idea I could make so many Ka-chings by outsourcing my meat-shield capacity." Unfortunately, the book generated a virtual copyright suit, which is currently being settled by virtual lawyer avatars in a completely user-built civil court. Additionally, many were annoyed by the 500-page appendix on whether The Matrix or Star Wars online is the most revolutionary online experience.
Talk show hosts all over the country originally yammered continuously about how gripping and excellent Freakonomics was. The focus swiftly turned to how immoral and dangerous the ideas contained therein were. In just a decade, our children were taken away, replaced by inkwells and therapeutic bungee cords. Xenophobic tendencies of North Americans eventually caused World War 2.5, because everyone had decided that whole numbers were too restrictive. Nearly everybody was killed in the ensuing nuclear winter, as major cities were razed to make way for far more economically sound farmland. I write this from a small, unsheltered concrete foundation perched perilously atop Mt. Everest. I guess what I'm saying is that this rogue non-fiction volume was quite controversial. Why don't you read it yourself and see what all the fuss is about??