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A few years ago I read the book Freakonomics“.  It was a fun read with a ton of interesting stories about human behaviour and economics. The authors have even set up a blog that has interesting articles on similar themes to those discussed in their book. One story that I found particularly interesting was their analysis of whether giving a black child a particularly “black” name would in fact determine that child’s socio-economic future. A summary of that chapter from the book is here, but the gist of their analysis is that that, on average, a person with a distinctively black name does have a worse life outcome than a person with a distinctively white name, but that this is not the fault of the name. Rather, if two black boys, one with a white name and one with a black name, are born in the same neighborhood and into the same familial and economic circumstances, they would likely have similar life outcomes. As was succinctly stated by the authors, “DeShawn’s name is an indicator—but not a cause—of his life path.”

What does this have to do with anything? Well, although this may be an anomaly, I think I have found a potentially exception to this economic rule, albeit in an entirely different context. Take this recent news story from Thunder Bay, Ontario. CBC reports as follows:

A French national is under arrest in Thunder Bay, Ont., suspected of trying to “buy” a five-year-old boy online in the United States for sexual purposes.

… 

Police in Georgia said they acted on an anonymous tip that someone had tried to use the internet to acquire a child. Reports say the accused had been hunted since March 18, when police searched his home.

Lt. Jay Baker of the Georgia Sheriff’s Office said it did not appear that a specific boy was targeted. Police also said child pornography was found on a personal computer.

A horrifying story all around, and it’s good that the police were able to stop this in time. But how does this relate to “Freakonomics”? The suspect’s name: Patrick Molesti, 56, of Woodstock, Georgia.

Patrick Molesti.

His name is Patrick Molesti.

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 Jesus. I’m not even sure this isn’t an internet hoax.

An indicator or a cause of his life path? I have to think it really didn’t help.