Is the World Ready for Freakonomics Again?

With economists under fire, maybe it's time for them to return to what they do best: the little stuff

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

University of Chicago economics professor Steven Levitt is a co-author with Stephen Dubner of SuperFreakonomics.

Four years ago, economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner produced a sensation. Their book, Freakonomics, described how Levitt and a few other scholars used the techniques of economics to examine quirky topics and controversial ones. There was a chapter on cheating among sumo wrestlers, another on the profitability of drug-dealing, yet another on the possible link between liberalized abortion laws and falling crime rates — and much more (the subtitle was A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything).

The book was a surprise mega best seller, with more than 4 million copies now in print worldwide....

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