When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen L. Dubner is the fourth in the Freakonomics series written by the duo, an economist/journalist pair. This book is a little bit different than the first three, in that rather than longer articles with in depth analysis, this is a curated collection of blog posts from the past ten years or so. Blog posts tend to be roughly a thousand words, more or less, and so don’t have the time to get deeply in to any topic.
To my mind, the fact that the book poses more random questions than answers (the question “When to rob a bank” is not really answered, beyond “never”) does not take away from its value. The economical thinking of topics that are not obviously economical is interesting. This blog seems to be more of a sounding board for ideas and random musings; the brainstorming before the big research project is selected. So, if you go in expecting processed data and conclusions, you won’t get them. If you go in looking for a new way to approach every day problems, you probably will get them.
It is the rare gift of an academic to make academic thinking entertaining, and Levitt and Dubner do so easily. The topics truly are random, from how to cheat successfully in online poker to what time of day is best for crime, to risk aversion, to why people eat more shrimp than in past years, and why more expensive gas might be a good idea.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.