With Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner revealed the good, bad, ugly and super freaky of the world around us.
The freakquel is here. Back with more than pop-culture trivia, Inforum's next 21st Century Visionary Award recipients are ready to revolutionize our understanding of causality in an incredibly interconnected world.
Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author and journalist who lives in New York City. He is the co-author, with Steven D. Levitt, of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. He is also the author of Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family (1998), Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper (2003), and a children's book, The Boy With Two Belly Buttons (2007).
Freakonomics, published in April 2005, instantly became an international best-seller, with more than 1.5 million copies sold in the U.S. alone. It won the inaugural Quill Award for best business book; was short-listed for the inaugural Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book Award; received a Visionary Award from the National Council on Economic Education; is a BookSense Book of the Year; and was named a Notable Book of 2005 by the New York Times.
Steve Levitt is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory.
Levitt received his BA from Harvard University in 1989 and his PhD from MIT in 1994. He has taught at Chicago since 1997.
In 2004, Levitt was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the most influential economist under the age of 40. In 2006, he was named one of Time magazine's "100 People Who Shape Our World."
Levitt co-authored Freakonomics, which spent over 2 years on the New York Times Best Seller list and has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. SuperFreakonomics, available this October, includes brand new research on topics from terrorism to prostitution to global warming.
Levitt is also the co-author of the popular New York Times Freakonomics Blog.
Alan Murray is deputy managing editor and executive editor, online, for The Wall Street Journal. He has editorial responsibility for the Journal's web sites, including WSJ.com and MarketWatch and the Journal’s books, conferences and television operations.
Prior to his current position, Mr. Murray was assistant managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, and author of the paper's "Business" column, which runs every Wednesday.
Previously, he served as CNBC’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief and was co-host of “Capital Report with Alan Murray and Gloria Borger." While working at CNBC, he also wrote the Journal's weekly "Political Capital" column. Prior to that, he spent a decade as the Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Murray joined The Wall Street Journal in 1983, as a reporter covering economic policy. He was named Washington deputy bureau chief in January 1992 and became bureau chief in September 1993. During his tenure as bureau chief, the Washington bureau won three Pulitzer Prizes, as well as many other awards.
Mr. Murray is the author of three best-selling books: “Revolt in the Boardroom, The New Rules of Power in Corporate America,” published by HarperCollins in 2007; “The Wealth of Choices: How the New Economy Puts Power in Your Hands and Money in Your Pocket,” published by Random House in 1991; and “Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform,” co-authored with Jeffrey Birnbaum and published by Random House in 1987. “Gucci Gulch” received the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award in 1988. Mr. Murray also garnered two Overseas Press Club awards for his writings on Asia, as well as a Gerald Loeb award and a John Hancock award for his coverage of the Federal Reserve.
SuperFreakonomics authors Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt reveal a disturbing statistic on how often hospital doctors actually wash their hands. Levitt discusses how one hospital successfully addressed the issue by growing a petri dish culture from a particularly grimy hand.
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, authors of SuperFreakonomics, argue that the simplest solution to global warming involves geoengineering technologies that reflect a percentage of sunlight away from the Earth.
Levitt describes why he prioritizes this technological solution over carbon reduction.
Why is the mile the appropriate unit for the denominator? Of course more miles are driven drunk than they are walked. It would be more meaningful to divide the deaths by the number of times engaging in each drunk walking and drunk driving. I guess Freakonomics is catchier than Sensationalist-onomics.
Great article about the power of sanitation in hospitals. Following a simple checklist reduced infection rates by 66%, and yet many doctors and hospitals are unwilling to follow it. Kind of frustrating.
FLAWED, FLAWED, FLAWED.
Levitt & Dubner are academics whose special power is to be able to sexify topics like handwashing for the masses and titling their books catchy names like "Freakonomics". The sexying up of topics is done primarily by using hyperbole ("you should wash your hands before you put them inside a person" verges on slander).
They also (conveniently?) ignore the nurses-doctor split in their study using "nursing spies", despite blathering on about psychological issues through this clip. The disparity of 70% to 9% is never explained or considered except as "doctors lie, but unconsciously, so they're not like, you know, BAD people".
I also think doctors don't wash their hands enough , but in NSW the focus is on ALL clinical staff to wash their hands - because doctors are not the only people "putting hands inside people". It would have been fascinating to have run a similar handwashing study but using a neutral third party 'spy' and observed ALL clinical staff, including nurses, for handwashing.
Very disappointing to see two celebrity academics cherry pick data and choose to remain blind to possible flaws in the data. Should have been warned by their pre-emptive "we're not doctor bashing" note, those sentences are always like "I'm not racist, but..." statements.
Instead of pointing fingers and whistle blowing on doctors I’d find it more interesting to hear Dubner and Levitt’s take on why economists are washing their hands off on the financial crisis and why they failed to anticipate and respond. Maybe there’s a perception deficit on how they think they’re doing and how they are really doing.
Docs and hand washing: a problem looking for a fairly easy solution. Why not automatic handwashers? Doc just sticks hands into 2 holes in machine, and hands are automatically sprayed with antibiotic soap & warm water, rinsed, then air dried within seconds? That would save docs time from looking for old-fashioned wet sloppy sink, adjusting hot & cold water, reaching for soap, paper towel, etc.