Book Review Freakonomics Essay

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"Anybody living in the United States in the early 1990s and paying even a whisper of attention to the nightly news or a daily paper could be forgiven for having been scared out of his skin... The culprit was crime. It had been rising relentlessly - a graph plotting the crime rate in any American city over recent decades looked like a ski slope in profile... Death by gunfire, intentional and otherwise, had become commonplace, So too had carjacking and crack dealing, robbery, and rape. Violent crime was a gruesome and constant companion...
The culprit was the so-called superpredator. For a time, he was everywhere. Glowering from the cover of newsweeklies. Swaggering his way through foot-thick government reports. He was a scrawny, big-city
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It was the proliferation of gun control laws, they said. It was the sort of innovative policing strategies put into place in New York City, where the number of murders fell tremendously. These theories were not only logical, they were also encouraging, for they attributed the crime drop to specific and recent human initiatives, showing us that we had the power to stop it the whole time."


Author Steven D. Levitt defines Freakonomics as ?the science exploring the hidden side of everything.? In this example, Levitt does just that. Instead of just accepting the conventional wisdom of the time, that the drop in crime rate could be attributed to an innovative police force, a good economy, stricter gun control, etc, Levitt looks to the source of the crime, the criminals.
Levitt first looked to many factors to identify the cause of the drop in crime, assuming all of these factors to be a cause. Then he examined the data and saw that none of the causes cited by the media at the time of the crime drop could have possibly had such an effect on crime, thus ruling them out. Levitt wanted an explanation for the specific circumstances of the drop in crime rate. The drop happened quickly and simultaneously all across the country. A roaring economy and innovative police strategies, the two main causes supported by the media, had never before influenced crime rate so significantly. He looked back to the identity of the criminal and noted the time…

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