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Friday, 16 December 2011

Icon Series: Arch-Enemy of God - Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens
Image via Wikipedia

Today, the death of this particular icon  caused me to change my mind. Although I never knew Christopher Hitchens I can't help but feel a bit like a guilty "friend" who speaks up only after the demise of a colleague. I am never comfortable with these sort of analogies, as it smacks of hero-worship, but it seems strange to suddenly now feel it is appropriate to write about my feelings towards the new atheist movement only when one their key figures (second possibly to Richard Dawkins) dies.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Scepto-nomics (a review of "Freakonomics")

Image via Wikipedia
 Steven D. Levitt stormed onto the social science scene like a rock star with his unconventional questioning and sometimes controversial conclusions on certain matters. He has come to define the term “rogue economist” and has made numbers sexy. At least that is the way his co-author Stephen J. Dubner wants us to see him. “Freakonomics” introduced Levitt to a far wider audience outside of the world of academic papers by asking unusual questions about a vast array of subjects in modern life. Each chapter is based on the academic work that cemented Levitt’s reputation for good or ill. Levitt is presented as being something of a mental enigma and I guess Dubner is his translator to us mere mortals. This debut book looks at links between such disparate subjects as cheating school teachers and rigged sumo matches. He uncovers the reason why estate agents don’t have your best interests at heart when it comes to selling property by tenuously linking this truth to what led to the growth and decline of the Ku Klux Klan. Along the way, the certain myths about the drug industry are blown apart by asking the question “Why do drug dealers live with their parents?”