Now is the time to dig deeper into the narrators' suppositions, allow me to provide the shovel, the drill, and possibly even the hoe. Their first tirade is about real estate agents (all of whom must be accredited with the National Association of Realtors, acronymed the NAR). Apparently, it turns out that realtors want to make a profit. Imagine how cunning this world is when an agent encourages a client to sell their home at $190,000 for their own expediency and to ensure the safety of their commission. Then imagine my shock at learning from our hosts that real estate agents and their clients often have differing interests in making a sale. Agents want to make a profit but do not want to spend weeks or months haggling over the home's sale price on account of their diminished commission of 1.5%. This is all so scandalous...but not really. I own two homes and I attended the Gold Coast real estate school and passed their final exam with a healthy 85%. Why am I not selling real estate today? Because I am anything but a salesman (which is what the Freakonomics people are). We are being asked to buy into an argument that is already common knowledge and to feign an interest as though their ideas represent originality and novelty, which they most obviously do not.
The second and most fascinating of their topics is the naming of children. When two African American children are named Winner and Loser respectively, is it really surprising when Loser becomes a police officer after earning scholarships, and is it shocking that Winner becomes a criminal? If I told you "my friends" (slipping in a little John McCain here) that a young woman named “Temptress”, and by accident mind you (tell me her mother does not smoke illicit drugs) grew up to become a harlot, and a promiscuous harlot at that, would you believe me? If you didn't I would call you any of sundry colorful names that I reserve for smart people. The premise of naming a child is of course turned into a racial argument to suggest a further divide among white and black children. And here I was thinking school districting already did that for us. If a black teenager named "Jamal" has dreadlocks and the letter J shaved into his scalp, plus or minus 16 tattoos and attends a billion dollar Obama funded inner city school, versus a million dollar funded private school in a suburban area where kids dress in khaki pants and golf shirts, is it so shocking to supposition the private school teenagers will enjoy greater success in life? Why are they trying to act profound in telling me what I have known for most of my life?
Sumo wrestling is a fascinating sport. Though Sumo wrestlers are a dying breed and their way of life is diminishing in popularity, it remains a viable sport nonetheless. If I were to tell you that in week 17 of the NFL the Indianapolis Colts would not want to start Peyton Manning in a snow game when they have already clinched a playoff berth, would you tell me how corrupt the NFL is (which it actually is)? The announcers seem possessed by the idea that Sumo wrestlers do enough to earn a spot in their tournament's playoffs and nothing more. Well spank my bottom and call me Susie, I am shocked and appalled...at their naiveté.
The other two propositions worth mentioning are the alleged correlation between spikes in polio afflictions and ice cream. Apparently during the summer polio proved statistically more virulent. Simultaneously during the summer kids eat more ice cream (I actually prefer it during snowstorms). Therefore polio was caused by the consumption of frozen yogurt? So much for probiotics.
Finally, the Japanese police force brags a 96% arrest rate. Does this mean they are almost infallible? Of course not, it is an issue of societal reputation and therefore many of the more difficult cases go unrecorded and unsolved. The narrators are dazzled by their motivation of not wanting Japanese society to look improper or dastardly. Imagine again my astonishment and awe.
I am going to write it and nobody can stop me, Freakonomics is a disgrace. The film is built for conspiracy theorists that have never finished high school. For people looking to point a finger at a sector of society and to assign blame to a race or culture this documentary is perfect. It supplies just enough ammunition to make the viewer feel smart until they strike up a conversation with someone smarter and realize what they have just learned is devoid of meaning and is practically useless. I actually give Freakonomics a great deal of credit for broaching these topics in a rational and scientific manner. What I disagree vehemently with is the lameness and inanity of their conclusions. Since when is trying to establish "causality" (a concept far more intricate than they make it out to be) a worthwhile endeavor when analyzing the success of a kid named Horcerace, or figuring out why a real estate agent advises a client to sell now? These are groundbreaking subjects? Forgive me if I read 50-100 books a year and Freakonomics is now permanently off my list. I teach more critical thinking and assessment skills in one class than this entire monstrosity of a book or documentary offers in 93 minutes.
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