Monday, March 7, 2011


The other night, when I should have been doing homework, I decided to watch a movie. It was called Freakonomics, The Hidden Side of Everything, and it's based on a book which got wildly popular a couple years ago. The book was written by an economist and a journalist who combined pop culture and economics (the social science concerned with the production and distribution of goods and services) to come up with some mind-boggling ideas about certain issues or topics that most of us would never really think too much about. The book had more chapter than the movie, but here are the chapters in the book:

Chapter 1: What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
Chapter 2: How is the Ku Klux Klan like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
Chapter 3: Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?
Chapter 4: Where Have All the Criminals Gone?
Chapter 5: What Makes a Perfect Parent?
Chapter 6: Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?

Chapters 1,4,5 and 6 were in the movie, as well as another chapter about if children can be bribed to get better grades if you pay them. I really want to read the book now that I have seen this movie.

It's really hard to talk about this movie without giving away the information that they came up with, but hugely interesting part for me was when they talked about how the name you give your baby can influence the rest of their lives. They also talked about cultural differences between names, such as Tyrone vs. Scott - one would be associated as being a "black name" while the other is painfully a "white name". One experiment they did to study cultural segregation was they sent out a certain amount of resumes to employers all over the country. It was the same resume that went to every company, except 50% of them that went out had a black name on the top and other had a white name at the top. They found that the resume with a white name was 33% more likely to get a callback for a job, even though both people had the exact same credentials. To look at this in a "big picture" scenario, if a dude with a white name gets hired for a job in 10 weeks, that black named guy with the same education and background will have to wait an extra 3-4 weeks to get a job. Hearing these stats just blew me away.

But the best chapter, by far, was the "Where have all the criminals gone?" They looked into why the exponentially growing crime rate in the USA came to sudden halt in the early 90's and came up with such a simple and yet profound explanation for it. I can't explain it without telling you the whole thing, so you'll just have to watch it yourself.

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