I just read Freakonomics, the new book written by Chicago economist Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the writer who wrote a New York Times Magazine profile of Levitt last year. The book is an outgrowth of the article and summarizes some of Levitt's research. The research is interesting -- on why the crime rate dropped in the 1990s, on whether baby names matter for outcomes later in life, about real estate agents, sumo wrestling, the KKK, and selling bagels in office buildings. It's a very quick read, well-written, and has a couple of things to make you think. But having read the New York Times Magazine piece, I'm not sure this added much that was new. Everything sounded familiar, even though I was reading the book for the first time. Each chapter of the book leads off with a quote from the New York Times Magazine piece, and that's really how the book functions -- it's the expanded version of the piece, basically. Which makes it good (the NYT piece was good, after all), but not groundbreaking. But Levitt seems like an awfully smart guy, tackling really interesting questions.