Monday, July 10, 2006

_Freakonomics_: The Textbook?

So here I am, sitting at the cafe, and I look at the window and see this . . .

See those two guys at the table? They're both reading hard cover copies of Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. It looks like they've both just recently started the book. Every once in a while one of them will grin at some of the amusing text.

Now, I have no problem with this. It's a good book. In fact, it's a great book, and it makes some very interesting points. Plus, it's very entertaining.

However, there's no way they BOTH are reading this voluntarily, is there? Would two guys like this just randomly get together at the Cop O' Joe to read together? Could they both be in a book club? Do you think they'll get together later in the night to discuss what they've read?

It's more likely that Freakonomics is a text for a class that they're taking. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. Apparently there's some instructor out there who was tickled so much by this book (either positively or negatively) that she's built at least one lesson on the text. I suppose there's no problem with this. More power to her. Lots of classes study new books (even books like this, which were published in January of 2006). For some reason this just takes something away from the book.

Before, if you ran into someone who read Freakonomics, you could make some assumptions about that person. That person probably heard of the book in particular ways that way something about her. That person probably had a certain desire to read the book that also says something about her. That person wouldn't have read the book if she wasn't interested, so she would be very willing to discuss it or give an opinion...

However, now that this is a class text, there is going to be an army of people who say they've read the book just like high schoolers say that they've read Romeo and Juliet. So now it's necessary to ask, "Oh, did you read it for a class?" If the answer is yes, then the conversation can stop.

Oh, well... At least it's getting more exposure. Have to focus on the good.

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~ange said...

a. So you just take pics of people and post them online?
b. Why do you think the manner of referral means more than what a person would have to say about the ideas?

Theo said...

a. Well, not frequently or anything. I think this is the first time. But I couldn't resist. I guess I could have blacked out their faces. Would that have been better? (they are sitting in public)

b. I'm just saying that they don't have as much invested in the book. That's all. I don't REALLY think that their opinion is going to be crap just because they were forced to read the book. I just think (all things being equal) I'd be more interested in hearing the opinion of someone who chose to read the book voluntarily.

Really the point of the whole thing was that it seemed funny that two guys would just be sitting together under an umbrella reading the same book. Does that not seem a LITTLE silly to YOU?!