The book is not new. But certainly worth a review. ‘Freakonomics’, written by ‘the two Stevens’, i.e. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, is indeed a freakish book. Some of their conclusions may still be wrong, but too near the truth for comfort anyway. For instance, they conclude that the (dramatic) crime-rate drop which set in as of 1995 was not due to any better police work, but to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the ‘abortion case’ Roe vs. Wade.
According to ‘the two Stevens’ a sharp increase in abortions as of 1973 sought by young single women who fit the description of producing ‘crime prone’ offspring, caused a sharp decrease in such ‘crime prone’ offspring. Hence the crime rate started dropping.
Now we automatically wrote ‘caused a sharp decrease’. But the word ‘cause’ is not accurate here. The correct expression is ‘correlated with’. The two phenomena occur side by side, they correlate, but there is not necessarily a causal relationship between them. That depends. For instance, the internet really got off the ground roundabout 1995 as well. But it is unclear why the internet should occur side by side with the dropping crime rate. A connection between the two is not obvious. We usually call this ‘pure coincidence’ (whatever that may be).
We don’t believe there exists any incontrovertible evidence that the higher abortion rate has any meaningful connection with the decreasing crime rate. Longer jail terms and better police work must have had an impact as well. But the ‘freak finding’ that they are meaningfully connected certainly is intriguing. It also immediately connects up in the mind with the very sensitive subject of eugenics. It cannot be denied that the apparent connection between abortion and the crime rate drop would suggest that crime prevention should start with eugenic measures.
Now that is a moral conclusion and dilemma at the same time. The two Stevens do not make any such moral judgment. They just point to the correlation. We believe that the moral (or ethical) question requires a lot more discussion and thought than we are willing to give it. Eugenics is dangerous, but perhaps inescapable. We at ARCO have not made up our own minds about this yet. We can see pros and very serious cons.
But a broad discussion on the subject (which would include embryo-selection and ‘gene-tinkering’) is long overdue. And as we are writing, scientists are daily inching closer to plain eugenics without us even noticing. So the matter should be discussed now. And internationally. For if we in the West should decide against but South Korea or China are in favor, we would not be making any real headway, now would we? Which is yet another reason why internationalism (world unity) is inescapable (Obama seems to understand this).
Source of freak-thought
In short, the book is a source of dazzling ‘freak-thought’. We highly recommend it. The selected video is just a teaser, but an interesting freak-thought all the same.