I just finished a book called Freakonomics. In it, an economist attempts to answer some questions that don't usually get asked by economists. For example, if crack dealers make so much money, how come most of them live with their Mom? (As it turns out, the guy standing on the street selling crack is so far down the "gang chain" that his hourly wage is less than if he worked at McDonalds.)
I especially enjoy any statistics that defy conventional wisdom. For example, if your child has two friends, one had a gun in the home and one had a swimming pool, which house is safer for your child to play at? (The chances of a child dying in a backyard pool are 100 times greater than death by firearm). A child over the age of two is no safer in a car-seat than he is in a regular seatbelt, what makes him safer is being in the backseat.
The truth is, as interesting as this book is, it probably would never have become a best-seller if not for the chapter on abortion. In it, the author shows that the drastic drop in crime in the 90's was, in large part, because of the legalization of abortion 20 years earlier. From The New York Times Magazine:
Levitt and his co-author, John Donohue of Stanford Law School, argued that as much as 50 percent of the huge drop in crime since the early 1990's can be traced to Roe v. Wade. Their thinking goes like this: the women most likely to seek an abortion-poor, single, black or teenage mothers-were the very women whose children, if born, have been shown most likely to become criminals. But since those children weren't born, crime began to decrease during the years they would have entered their criminal prime. In conversation, Levitt reduces the theory to a tidy syllogism: "Unwantedness leads to high crime; abortion leads to less unwantedness; abortion leads to less crime."