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Next Brown Bag

Monday, Oct 6
Elisha Renne (Michigan)

Interesting questions in freakonomics

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

DiNardo, John. 2007. "Interesting questions in freakonomics." Journal of Economic Literature, 45(4): 973-1000.

Freakonomics is more about "entertainment" than it is a serious attempt at popularization. Consequently, rather than conduct a comprehensive fact check, I use the book as a springboard for a broader inquiry into social science research and take issue with the book's surprising premise that "Economics is a science with excellent tools' for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions." Using examples from Freakonomics, I argue that some of the questions the book addresses are "uninteresting" because it is impossible to even imagine what a good answer would look like. I conclude with some thoughts about the role of economic theory in generating interesting questions and/or answers.

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