I read Freakonomics a couple of years ago and was eager to get my hands on the new book, SuperFreakonomics. I managed to snag a copy at a Walden Books (RIP) that was closing in Chicago a few months ago. This book was a touch edgier than the first one, which was a bit out of my comfort zone to begin with. The first book spent quite a bit of time talking about drug dealers while this one gave the inside scoop on prostitution.
The subtitle of the book is: Global cooling, patriotic prostitutes, and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance. With a subtitle like that you can imagine my heart skipped a beat when I got stopped by airport security to have my bag full of books inspected one by one. Fortunately the “SUICIDE BOMBERS” phrase did not catch their attention.
The premise of the book is to show how that not every conclusion is as simple as seeing a few facts and making assumptions. The first book was subtitled A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything and gives you an idea that the purpose of these books is not really to solve any specific problem, but to let you know that sometimes there is much more to an issue than what you might first conclude. Some of the topics discussed in the book I imagine are, or will be, subjects of much discussion since the authors contradict conventional wisdom and popular myths in several areas. One of the controversial topics I hoped would be in the book was the subject of a TED Talk that one of the authors, Steven Levitt, gave a couple of years ago. He shows the power of scare tactics and powerful lobbyists. In that talk Levitt goes against what we “know is true” about the effectiveness of car seats compared to seat belts.
I enjoyed the book, but I have to say it is not for sensitive eyes. I had to make sure no one was reading over my shoulders at different points in the book. It is quite graphic in some areas. I don’t know if I can say it is a must read, but I did like many of his conclusions.
SuperFreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. William Morrow Publishing. 288 pages. 2009.
I am offering this book to anyone who wants to send me a good book. This is an experiment to see how long it takes to send a book from Argentina to wherever you are and vice versa. Leave a comment with what you have to offer in trade.