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Super Freakonomics (Book)

A book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

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Had Me Laughing and Learning

  • Jun 25, 2010
Rating:
+5
I had the bad fortune to pick up Superfreakonomics the weekend before a long road trip.  I say bad fortune because I couldn't stop reading it to pack, and now I'm on the other side of the country and I'm running low on socks and boxers.

Complications aside, Levitt and Dubner's second work manages to capture the quirkiness and "evil genius" brand of thought-provoking hilarity that was first seen in Freakonomics, while tying it together into a more coherent conclusion and overall message.

Their message?  There's always an easier, cheaper, simpler solution, so stop panicking and start thinking.  This proves to be a timely message in our day, when germ scares, terrorism, and global warming have large portions of society consumed with behavior-changing anxiety (Global Warming is also one of their major points of inquiry, providing some interesting new material on everyone's favorite apocalypse that many people will reject outright...and many others will want to yell "Amen" to).

Levitt and Dubner offer a plethora of topics, ranging from the economics of prostitution to suicide bomber's insurance policies.  None of the topics covered in Superfreakonomics had quite the same potential for controversy that some of their previous explorations did (which included such speculations as that Roe v. Wade decreased New York City's crime rates and how ethnic baby names may decrease a child's earning potential), other than their inquiry into climate change.

The book is engagingly written, and is consistently funny throughout.  Something about the style reads as downright adventurous, like a giddy let's-see-what-we-can-get-away-with-and-call-it-science challenge, and yet I found myself learning all the same.  It's infectious - Levitt and Dubner actually make economics exciting.

I sincerely recommend this book, and its predecessor, Freakonomics.  They may not revolutionize your views, but you are sure to pick up some grade-A random knowledge and a new outlook on human behavior.

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June 25, 2010
Fantastic review, Pierce! I heard of Freakonomics, but didn't realize that there was second Superfreakonomics. After seeing Steven Levitt's TED talk, I'm going to have to check them both out. Thanks so much for the heads up on this! :)
 
June 25, 2010
I agree. Both titles are first-rate, solidly enjoyable books. Great review.
 
June 25, 2010
Excellent review! I have not gotten around to read the Freakonomics books yet but I will definitely add this one to my list. Sounds like fun.
 
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More SuperFreakonomics reviews
review by . March 26, 2010
Economics may not be considered one of the sexier sciences. But, first with "Freakonomics" and now with "Super Freakonomics", rogue economists and best-selling authors, Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner, have proven that economics can be fascinating, funny and out-of-the-blue surprising as well!       No cow is so sacred as to escape the scrutiny of Levitt and Dubner's micro- and macro-scopic analysis. For example, would any of us have thought to question …
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
Reading this book made me feel smart!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Actually makes boring topics interesting.
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2010
Not as good as the first book
review by . April 10, 2010
This reads like a novel with twists, turns and surprises on every page. A very easy to read fact filled and entertaining book. If you have read Freakonomics you know what you are in for. If not you will find this a treat. I really enjoyed the discussions form Intelligent Ventures in Seattle. If you have heard about geoengineering, you will find out more about much simpler responses to global warming than we have head from others. And yes you will hear detractors. But such is the lot of people who …
review by . November 15, 2009
The first Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.) was somewhat thought-provoking and made a few interesting arguments. By contrast, SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance seems contrarian simply for the sake of being contrarian. It makes grand statements about issues without backing them up with data. The worst example of this is the discussion of climate change. Levitt and Dubner promote a …
review by . January 06, 2010
If you read this book as an economics text, you will be disappointed.    If you read this book as a couple hours of entertainment and expect to glean interesting info for the watercooler or your next cocktail party, you will love it. The issues are relevant to the average Joe, which is one of the reasons why these books are so popular.    If you don't like it, find some intriguing data and write your own book.
review by . December 28, 2009
I am a fan of the previous "Freakonomics" book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dunbar so I knew what to expect when I began "Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance." The book's tantalizing subtitle displays the overall tone and subject matter of the book: an irreverent look at topical issues, using humor and common sense to debunk some of the most common assumptions most of us have made about our world. Much as the first book, "Superfreakonomics" …
About the reviewer
J. Pierce Warne ()
Ranked #579
   I am a pessimist by nature, a cynic by experience, and a Christian by grace. I grew up around the church, but it seems like the more that I experience God, the further I get from much of … more
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Wiki

The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that the freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.

Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What's more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it's so ineffective? Can a sex change boost your salary?

SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as:

 

  • How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  • Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
  • How much good do car seats do?
  • What's the best way to catch a terrorist?
  • Did TV cause a rise in crime?
  • What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?
  • Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?
  • Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
  • Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?

Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0060889578
ISBN-13: 978-0060889579
Author: Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
Genre: Business & Investing, Entertainment, Nonfiction
Publisher: William Morrow
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