Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
- Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 24 June 2010
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Great critical thinking deserves our following and these guys do it again. This book runs a little more rambling than their first outing but no doubt many readers will appreciate the extra detail and hover over every significant finding. The book produces an outcome of thinking that leans to the cynical: Everything accepted by the mainstream is proven futile. How, then, to get the mainstream out of the mainstream and into a more productive current? There is the unanswered question of the book. Perhaps the answer is; us, the now-enlightened readers.PS: Not as many delectable anecdotes as their first but still lots of chewy details.:)
Once again, Levitt and Dubner apply economist techniques to a variety of interesting topics, including prostitution, global warming, terrorism, altruism, and fundamental healthcare. Like the last book, some of the revelations are startling -- for instance, you are 8 times more likely to die in a drunk-walking incident than you are in drunk driving incident. A more central theme to the book though isn't the manipulation of data to reach surprising conclusions, but that data alone isn't going to change human behavior. Much is written about the literally hot topic of global warming -- Al Gore is probably right in stating that if we are going to change our behavior to alleviate the problem we are dangerously behind the eight ball. A better solution posed by some brilliant minds, however, suggests we will never get to that point -- the imperative isn't aligned with our motivation. The solution is counter-intuitive, and given the lack of environmental understanding that led to this mess, a suspiciously risky one, then again, we do know more now than we knew in the past, and perhaps the risk isn't so great after all.Like the first book, this one is shorter than I wanted it to be. The epilogue in particular I found fascinating, although I suppose elaborating on it goes rather beyond the scope of the book. It involves monkeys learning to use money...and what they ultimately learned they could buy with it.
I suspect a lot of the people that give this a low grade are disguising their disgust that the former "cool kids" that took down Real Estate agents and compared drug gangs to the big corporate struggle dared to take on the orthodoxy of global warming and the patron Saint Al Gore. The chapter about possible solutions to global warming is worth the read. It is refreshing to read something other than the two religious extremes (it doesn't exist, it is the end of the world) and the explanations make sense. People from the church of Al Gore are too savvy to put that in their reviews, but I expect that is where the disappointment comes from."We loved Freakonomics when it supported what we believe.""Super Freakonomics is lame because it questions what I believe!"
Subtitled "Global Cooling, patriotic prostitutes, and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance." Like Freakonomics before it, this book is a fascinating look at the world around us through a lens of economics. The global warming chapter does have sensible things to say (there is more to global warming than just the carbon dioxide cycle), an analysis of how to ameliorate the hurricane effects, what capuchin monkeys buy when given a money economy (yes, the oldest profession does figure into it), the economics of prostitution over the last century, as well as through several neighborhoods in one modern town, how one might use various indicators to help locate terrorists on home soil, and so on. Fascinating analyses.
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