The documentary Freakonomics, based on the book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner will close out this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The book is an economist’s look at trends in our society and explaining them in unexpected ways. For instance, Levitt looks at various topics like the economics of drug dealing (this was based on the research of Sudhir Venkatesh (who wrote his own book, Gang Leader for a Day, and I’ve included the TED video of Levitt speaking about this phenomenon after the jump) to a controversial theory that the legalization of abortion resulted in a lower crime rate. The latter is an interesting theory because Malcolm Gladwell came to a different conclusion in his book The Tipping Point. Gladwell says the lower crime rate was a result of the “broken window” theory in which punishing minor crimes like J-walking and toll-jumping results in a decrease of major crimes.
The documentary is a collaboration of notable directors including Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight), Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters), and directing duo, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp).
The 2010 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 21st to May 2nd. Hit the jump to watch Levitt’s lecture on why most drug dealers live with their mothers.
(Thanks to our own Brendan Bettinger for leading me to this video)
Levitt breaks down his lecture into three parts:
1) Why crack-cocaine had such a profound influence in inner-city gangs.
2) How Venkatesh came to see the inner workings of a gang.
3) What was discovered by looking at the financial records of the gang.
Click here to buy Freakonomics and click here for the sequel SuperFreakonomics (which garnered controversy for “misleading information” regarding geo-engineering of a stratoshield; Elizabeth Kolbert, a science writer for The New Yorker who has written extensively on global warming, contends that “just about everything they [Levitt and Dubner] have to say on the topic is, factually speaking, wrong). I have yet to read SuperFreakonomics, but the first book is undoubtedly fascinating.