Tuesday, May 13, 2014


The headline “May This be the End of Freakonomics” that screamed in the ET dated 13th May 2014 was bemusing. Leaves us nonplussed and disheartened! This headline adorns an article by Nick Summers, reviewing the third book in the Freakonomics series, by Levitt and Dubner, and is syndicated by, tut, tut,  the Bloomberg Businessweek. The words militate against the egalitarian beliefs of YT as a third world citizen, and represent a line of thought seriously distorted by a Capitalist mind-set. We explain what this means below, if we have understood it properly, he, he, he..

IK has a pucca affiliation bordering on bonding, with the concept called Freakonomics. We always treated the word as representing a concept rather than being a brand out of the stable of Levitt and Dubner. If we remember aright, we have written two posts on local Freakonomic ideas in IK , and intended to repeat the khataa ere Nick Summers threatened to throw a spanner in the works! For us, Freakonomics offers a startling and unsuspected insight into a commonplace phenomenon, which goes against the grain of common sense, but once exposed, rings true. It is a whiff of fresh air, unshackles your mind from stereotyped mental processes, and hence as a concept, is to be valued. Another merit is that it is ideology-neutral. The rightist, the leftist, the gay, the intellectual, the nincompoop Carl, the housewife, the artisan, the artiste can only smile, nod and applaud the explanation in the same sense. It doesn’t bear upon complex phenomena like say the Michelson-Morley discovery, or the Lorentz Transformation, but applies to little universal observations. The plain and simple explanation is an authentic signboard in life’s journey. .
The learned reviewer would have Freakonomics given a burial, because the third book in the series talks of explanations which are common beliefs. For instance the conclusion that obesity, more than anything else, stems from a surfeit of carbs in the victim’s diet. What Nick’s observation logically implies is that the explanation is a non-Freakonomic explanation, and hence not to be incorporated into a Freakonomics book! What has to be jettisoned is therefore (~ Freakonomics), rather than Freakonomics I sayyy... The boot is on the other foot, maaan! To recall that limerick about the lady from Corso, one should be in favour of moreso.! Is a good one! [please see * below]

What has led Nick Summers to the convoluted conclusion, nay, even the misguided inclusion of a non-Freakonomic explanation by the authors, is the perverted tendency of our management thinkers and their victims to include every bit and parcel of holy thought as grist for humanity’s money-making machine. The authors want to milk the concept to the last drop, when they have no fodder left for the cow. The reviewer catches the bug, and concludes that the concept itself is now beyond redemption. They would rather dissect the goose which lays the golden egg, than let the masses enjoy the exciting ideas for perpetuity.
 Everyone can, and does, contribute to this unique stream of thought, no? The following is from the post Bande Mein Tha Dum and explains why one gets watchmen at such low wage rates, and why even emaciated chaps succeed in keeping miscreants at bay..
There was a spate of burglaries in our area. Mom hired a chowkidar within her limited means. He happens to be ‘visually and auditorily challenged”. We expected our building to be a target of the miscreants, yet we remained, touch wood, safe. Our (Freakonomic) explanation goes thus: our man hails from the same sections as some of these miscreants. To violate his turf would mean exposing a relative to police excesses, and will be socially unacceptable… Hence the mercy upon us!

Nick Summers's idea amounts not just to throwing the baby away with the bathwater. It's like harbouring a death-wish for the  poor little darling!

Let a thousand Freakonomists Bloom!
There once was a lady from Corso,
Who exposed overmuch of her torso,
A crowd soon collected,
But no one objected,
And some were in favour of moreso

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