Friday, April 09, 2010

Freakonomicists Boldly Go Everywhere

Tyler Cowen notes a new paper by Roland Fryer and Freaky Steve Levitt on the Muslim gender gap in math. This is interesting, but it isn't economics.

It reminded me of this Freakonomics take by the Onion that made me chuckle:
.. "Usually we can count on a stable average of 5 feet 8 inches, but last month's quarter-inch drop in height among Mexican dead-lift competitors in the middle-heavyweight division could spell disaster for GE's aviation and software subsidiaries," freakonomist James Duncan said. "But, like anything else, a shrewd investor must always ask himself one thing: How many hot dogs did I eat last year?"

1 comment:

ed said...

James Heckman is a big critic of "Freakonomics" style research. But I believe he also studies issues of education and learning not too different from the one in this paper. He'd probably say it has to do with human capital formation, so it is part of economics. Do you also dismiss Heckman's research as "not economics?"

Also, if economists don't study this stuff, then who will do it...people at Ed schools? I don't have a lot of confidence in them, to put it mildly.

So go ahead and criticize studies of cheating sumo wrestlers if you want to, but this stuff is actually kind of important.