Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Caveat About Freakonomics (and that type of thinking)

From a WSJ article today:

"Do unhealthy people drink diet soda? Does diet soda make people unhealthy?Those are some of the questions raised by a 'surprising' new study that links consumption of soft drinks -- both the sugared and diet variety -- with a higher risk for a range of obesity-related health problems."

Is anyone else finding more and more articles/essays/books about two seemingly unrelated topics being *gasp* actually related? Or that there are connections that people seem to have never seen before but *gasp* the author shows us the way?

I know Freakonomics was a hit (and I liked the book) but it seems like economists and now everyday journalists are copying (or maybe just over utilizing) the "Freakonomics style". Maybe I've just been seeing more of this and the WSJ article on diet soda sort of pushed me over the top, but it really does seem like the "Freakonomics style" is becoming (or has become) all the rage. There have been recent books published such as "Freedomnomics" that go against the "Freakonomics style" (though, honestly, I don't like Freedomnomics either) but there are many more books that go with the style such as "More Sex is Safer Sex" and "Discover Your Inner Economist". It might just be me, but I'm starting to get sick of these cutesie copycat books.

My theory behind the proliferation of such books/essays/articles is that Freakonomics was SUCH a hit (and the publishing industry is so hard pressed for these rare successes) that when something like Freakonomics comes along most publishers say, "Ooh! Ooh! A money cow! We need to milk this for all its worth!" and then some authors come along and say, "Ooh! Ooh! The spotlight!" and then you get some mediocre books that don't quite live up to the original but sell more than enough copies to generate handsome profits all around. That's what we're seeing and fortunately we're reaching the point of saturation, which means we shouldn't be seeing these copycats much longer.

My point behind this whole post is that I'm disappointed with a general lack of originality. This applies not only to books, but also to movies, restaurants, and many other business concepts. I'm disappointed that it's better (more profitable?) nowadays to be a copycat than it is to strike out on your own and take a chance.

1 comment:

John Lott said...

Thanks for mentioning my book, Freedomnomics, and for reading it. I was curious though why you didn't like the book. Any thoughts would be appreciated.