We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Roe v. Wade led to a massive drop in crime. Crack dealers, on the whole, are woefully underpaid. Swimming pools are more dangerous than handguns. And Sumo wrestling is demonstrably corrupt. These are all hypotheses of Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics, a mishmash of sociology and economic research fascinating enough to be forgiven for having no unifying theme. The ultimate cocktail-party economics tract, the book eschews lengthy reviews of data for solid intuitive arguments and only in rare instances—such as Levitt’s contention that going to museums isn’t any better for a kid than watching Full House reruns—does it feel as if the author is overreaching. The same can’t be said about Stephen Dubner, the book’s co-author: He regularly fawns over Levitt’s brilliance and is almost certainly responsible for the tome’s gag-inducing epilogue claiming that Freakonomics will change how you think forever. “[Y]ou may begin looking for hints as to how things aren’t quite what they seem; perhaps you will seek out some trove of data and sift through it.” Levitt speaks at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jeff Horwitz)