“For a good blow job, a man will do just about anything. What can I do with that knowledge? I have no idea.”
How Tech Tools Transformed New York's Sex Trade is an article by Sudhir Venkatesh demonstrating the results from a survey of 290 sex workers in New York about financial matters. Venkatesh and Stephen Leavitt did a similar study in Chicago, posted to Metafilter previously. More information about Venkatesh's research on sex work on his website.
A simple idea: take an ordinary savings account, but instead of paying interest to account holders, hold a lottery to see who gets the lump sum. Freakonomics Radio investigates Prize-linked savings (PLS) accounts (Part 1, Part 2), which combine two things that seem completely at odds with each other: saving money and gambling. In Highland Park, MI, PLS accounts have been very successful at converting "non-savers" into "savers". Why hasn't it caught on in the US? It's illegal in most states, of course.
The Freakonomics follow up, Superfreakonomics, contains a chapter on climate change that lives up to the best selling contrarian style of authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. However actual climate scientists were not pleased with the chapter. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the book "repeats tired global cooling myths," "unfairly trashes climate models" and "advocates rolling the dice on unproven technology" among other faults. They have also been accused of misquoting climate scientist Ken Caldeira. Levitt and Dubner respond to their critics, Global Warming in SuperFreakonomics: The Anatomy of a Smear. [more inside]
Steven Leavitt and Sudhir Venkatesh, of Freakonomics fame, investigate prostitution. According to the working paper [pdf], prostitutes in Chicago are more likely to sleep with the police than get arrested by them.
Hatred and Profits: Getting Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan (50 page pdf). Steven Levitt, of freakonomics fame, along with Roland Fryer, has just released a new academic paper that assesses the rise and fall of the KKK from a variety of perspectives. From one of the authors ...It details the rise and fall of the Klan in the 1920s. Incredibly, the Klan had millions of members at that time, and most of them were reasonably well-educated. Based on a variety of data sources, we argue that, despite its size and education levels, the group nevertheless had little measurable impact on society or politics...
Freaks and Geeks keeping it real. [TNR login=metafilter pwd=metafilter] In late March, New Republic columnist Noam Scheiber posted an article strongly criticizing, among other things, Chicago Economics Professor Steve Levitt's "cute and clever" approach to the dismal science, now famously known as Freakonomics. Levitt replied last week with a post of his own. And now, Scheiber has appears to want some more of this.