Like many people, I was impressed by Steven J. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s book Freakonomics. By taking a non-ideological, fact-based approach to some burning questions of the day, Levitt is able to make some very interesting discoveries.
The lead story in the book is based on a paper of Levitt’s that shows a strong correlation between legalized abortion and a falling crime rate 15 years later. I encourage you to get the book, but in the meantime, the abortion part of it is well-summarized by sci-fi author, neo-fascist, and amusing semi-wingnut Orson Scott Card: Freakonomics or you have to find the facts before you can face them.
(Side note: Janus/Onan brought this fun Kuro5hin item about Card to my attention: Orson Scott Card has always been an asshat. Makes the interesting case that Card did not actually write, or at least did not write all of, Ender’s Game.)
You’ve probably heard about how former education czar, moral virtues expert, and gambling addict Bill Bennett recently filed the serial numbers off Levitt’s argument and mentioned it in passing in a slightly less-pleasant form, in which he pointed out that you could lower the crime rate in the country by aborting all the black babies. Rogers Cadenhead summarizes some of the aftermath at Workbench: Bill Bennett’s reproducible error. As with the Broussard fact-checking I helped along, it’s an interesting example of how stuff in the real media can resonate with a particular crowd in the blogosphere, then echo back, amplified, into the mainstream consciousness.
Finally, no excursion into wingnuttery would be complete without an Ann Coulter moment. Two of them, in this case.
First, Aaron/Hiro pointed out the other day that with the exception of its occasional gratuitous liberal-bashing, this item by Coulter, in which she attacks Harriet Miers as a legal lightweight (let’s not forget, Coulter owns the category of women using a sketchy background as a legal scholar as a springboard to greatness), is actually more or less sane: This is what ‘advice and consent’ means.
Second, restoring my faith in her essential inability to make a coherent, honest argument twice in a row, Coulter has attacked the aforementioned Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, as debunked at MediaMatters: Coulter falsely accused Freakonomics co-author of defending Roe v. Wade, claimed that Lott debunked his original study on abortion and crime.