The Sincerest Form of Flottery

by Kieran Healy on March 29, 2007

This is just too funny. John Lott, having had his lawsuit against Steven Levitt and Freakonomics thrown out, has gone and written a knock-off called—I’m not making this up—Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Freaky Theories Don’t. The jacket design is right out of the David Horowitz playbook, too.

Presumably it’s blurbed by Mary Rosh. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to the final chapters of my two forthcoming books, Greedonomics: A rogue trader shoots first and Fritonomics: Exploring the hidden side of snack foods.

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Fixed Point - A weblog on economics and psychology » Friday fun with Freakonomics
03.30.07 at 8:24 am

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1

Ginger Yellow 03.29.07 at 2:46 am

What a surprise: it’s published by Regnery.

What’s the point of this? It’s not like Freakonomics is anti-markets.

2

Ginger Yellow 03.29.07 at 2:47 am

Brilliant. Check out the tags:

Customers tagged similar products with
islam (20), global warming (13), america (13), europe (13), truth (14), muslims (11), conservative (12), culture (10), climate change (7), demographics (7), history (5), politics (7), wingnuttery (7), propaganda (5), science (5)

3

DRR 03.29.07 at 2:58 am

It’s about time someone took that kooky anti-market reactionary Levitt to task.

4

John Quiggin 03.29.07 at 3:22 am

It’s worth remembering that right up to the day he launched the lawsuit, Mary/John was employed at the American Enterprise Institute. Surely the thoughts of someone employed by such a respected institution would be worth reading.

5

FMguru 03.29.07 at 3:50 am

Fritonomics: Exploring the hidden side of snack foods.

Is that what the Liberal Fascism manuscript has been revised into?

6

Michael Bérubé 03.29.07 at 4:06 am

Um, can I point out that “Freedomnomics” is really hard to say? It’s like you need a mnemonic device of some kind to remember how to handle the “mn,” but then, pronouncing it “freedonomics” sounds too much like you’re saying “Freidanomics” or “free da nomics,” and what’s the point of that? Greedonomics and Fritonomics are far more mnellifluous, I think.

And then there’s the fact that you don’t really need a free-market corrective to Freakonomics anyway. Which is why I’ve abandoned my current project and starting writing Fiveyearplanomics: Why You Should Just STFU and Trust the Judgment of the “Early Adopters” on the Central Purchasing Committee.

7

URK 03.29.07 at 4:11 am

well, “freedonomics” might be mistaken for the economics of Fredonia. Groucho’s estate might sue.

8

Gene O'Grady 03.29.07 at 4:53 am

It’s actually harder to say than Professor Berube indicates. The “mn” in the title of Lott’s book isn’t the comparatively easy “mn” combination at the beginning of Greek words like mnemosune, it’s an “m” break “n,” which is really awkward. (In the old example from when I took linguistics, it’s night rate, not the more flowing nitrate.)

9

Henry (not the famous one) 03.29.07 at 5:57 am

Fredonomics (1957 version): you sell out your brother for some signs of respect from people who consider you a fool. Which you are.

10

Pinko Punko 03.29.07 at 6:27 am

The glorious trans-Ural tractor organizing subcommittee says “NYET!” to Freedomnomics, while continuing to set monthly records in tractor production.

11

sidereal 03.29.07 at 6:29 am

Sockonomics: Why it only sucks if you get caught.

12

Pinko Punko 03.29.07 at 6:36 am

Moderate this, Crooked Timber cobags!
Just kidding.

*sigh*

13

Valuethinker 03.29.07 at 7:25 am

I don’t remember if it was Kevin Drum, or someone else, who posted a map (this was about election 2004 time) of who reads what, linking to other books.

I think it was based on Amazon data.

There were very clearly 2 hemispheres, with a ‘right wing book’ hemisphere, and a ‘liberal hemisphere’ and never the twain shall meet.

Lefties were reading Richard Clarke, Ron Suskind etc. Righties were reading David Frum and Anne Coulter. I note Mark Steyn in the linked books to this one.

I am wracking my brains to remember what the crossover books might have been (there were only a couple) that linked to buyers in both hemispheres.

I am pretty sure Freakonomics was one (but was it out, then?).

14

Katherine 03.29.07 at 8:41 am

I particularly love how the the apple has a US flag inside, because of course we all know how free markets are inherently nationalistic. Erm, hang on a sec…

15

bad Jim 03.29.07 at 9:03 am

Shouldn’t it have been the “Politically Incorrect Guide to Economics”, hereinafter perhaps “PIGonomix”?

16

abb1 03.29.07 at 9:22 am

Yes, the US flag inside the apple is funny. Also, that according to the cover, the book is actually titled Why the Free Market Works and Other Freaky Theories Don’t.

17

Jon H 03.29.07 at 10:41 am

Greenspangnomics?

18

Ginger Yellow 03.29.07 at 10:57 am

Fiveyearplanomics: Why You Should Just STFU and Trust the Judgment of the “Early Adopters” on the Central Purchasing Committee.

Great, just what we need. Yet another graphic novel about socialist economics.

19

aaron 03.29.07 at 11:02 am

It just doesn’t role. He should’ve left out the ‘M’.

20

brooksfoe 03.29.07 at 11:05 am

The implied pun of the Levitt cover is “comparing apples and oranges”. The implied pun of the Lott cover is…comparing apples and the flag of the United States?… Why do I bother.

21

nnyhav 03.29.07 at 11:46 am

Echonomics. But I repeat myself.

22

Anderson 03.29.07 at 1:42 pm

Good one, Sidereal.

23

dr2chase 03.29.07 at 2:23 pm

Freedomnemomics. Keeping track of the lies you told to protect us from freedom-hating terra-ists.

24

confused 03.29.07 at 2:40 pm

I still don’t get it. The authors of Freakonomics are pro-market, and some have even considered them libertarian. Why would Lott have a beef with them? (I don’t know the whole story; could someone explain?) In particular, is there a reason he is copying their format? Is he parodying them, or basically saying that his book is the real deal and not theirs? Or is he just a lunatic?

25

BushYouth 03.29.07 at 3:14 pm

Cheetoh-nomics:
1) start blog
2) ??
3) profit!

26

dilbert dogbert 03.29.07 at 3:54 pm

Michael,
Someone is going to have to hog tie you and take you down to a recovering blogger 12 step session. First you try to go cold turkey but that doesn’t work as you are thinking just one little sip of blogging won’t hurt. Next thing you know you will be back to blogging 24/7 and your wife, kids and job are suffering. The next thing you know you will be homeless, sitting on a curb somewhere, unshaven, and a dirty laptop in your lap.
God I enjoy recovering bloggers! Wellcome back!

27

Walt 03.29.07 at 4:41 pm

confused: Levitt failed to be sufficiently outraged by Chappaquiddick.

28

RWB 03.29.07 at 4:58 pm

These right-wing books that mimic the covers and titles of other books remind me of the way pron movies often base their titles on puns of non-porn movies. Fredomnomics is to Freakonomics what Edward Penishands is to Edward Scissorhands. And in both cases, the pastiches belong to specific narrow genres that appeal to the specific, snickering, shameful subcultures.

29

American Citizen 03.29.07 at 5:17 pm

Just to be positive here, “Freakonomics” led me to “Off The Books”, which is a good book.

30

Dæn 03.29.07 at 5:45 pm

#13:

I don’t remember if it was Kevin Drum, or someone else, who posted a map (this was about election 2004 time) of who reads what, linking to other books.

See here and here (the newest version). It seems you’re right, so the question remains: what audience is Lott aiming at?

31

Michael Bérubé 03.29.07 at 5:45 pm

First you try to go cold turkey but that doesn’t work as you are thinking just one little sip of blogging won’t hurt. Next thing you know you will be back to blogging 24/7 and your wife, kids and job are suffering. The next thing you know you will be homeless, sitting on a curb somewhere, unshaven, and a dirty laptop in your lap.

Actually, Dilbert, as today’s post demonstrates, I’m already well on the way to stage three. And I don’t see what’s the big deal about “shaving,” anyway. Or “showering,” either.

But I assure you that I can quit anytime. I just don’t feel like quitting right now. Or next week.

32

Decnavda 03.29.07 at 10:54 pm

confused wrote:
I still don’t get it. The authors of Freakonomics are pro-market, and some have even considered them libertarian. Why would Lott have a beef with them? (I don’t know the whole story; could someone explain?) In particular, is there a reason he is copying their format? Is he parodying them, or basically saying that his book is the real deal and not theirs? Or is he just a lunatic?

I have 3 responses:

1. Lott & Levitt have an existing emnity because Lott challenged Levitt’s conclusion that Roe v. Wade is partially responsible for the large drop in crime in the 1990’s, Levitt responded, and most independent observers have concluded that Levitt wiped the floor with Lott’s ass in that debate. Of course, that issue really has nothing to do with free markets, which leads to -

2. Yes, Lott is a lunatic. And -

3. Even if you come out on the side of free markets, you are an apostate to the right these days if you base your conclusions on mathmatical analyses of well-documented empirical data. As Colbert says, the very facts themselves have a liberal bias.

33

radek 03.30.07 at 1:50 am

decnavda, you’re thinking of Steve Sailer. Lott’s the gun guy.

34

JuicyLurker 03.30.07 at 2:13 am

Why does Lott hate Levitt and Dubner’s book? Lott’s defamation suite against the authors was recently thrown out of court.

35

Barry 03.30.07 at 5:42 pm

On top of that, Lott is a pathologoical liar; any truth probably affects him like scratchy wool longjohns affect somebody allergic to wool.

36

Decnavda 03.30.07 at 6:31 pm

radek-

Actually, Lott and Sailer played tag-team in getting whipped by Levitt. The comments to Lott’s post on his blog here:

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/2005/11/levitts-abortion-disappeared-when.html
show them high-fiving each other in their delusion that they won the debate.

37

F. Etus 03.30.07 at 6:48 pm

“most independent observers have concluded that Levitt wiped the floor with Lott’s ass in that debate”

I’m not familiar with Lott, and I’m not Lott, but many independent observers have concluded Levitt was wrong:

http://www.demog.berkeley.edu/~bryans/fert_abtn-crime.pdf

http://www.bos.frb.org/economic/wp/wp2005/wp0515.pdf

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/jhr/2004ab/joyce1.htm

Levitt hyped his nonsense into a big paycheck. I admire him for that.

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