Customer Reviews for

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

39 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

Fun, like the first

Levitt and Dubner's new book provides insight and thought that basically leaps from where Freakonomics stopped. I love that they take the "truths" that the world hold as self evident and test them. From the radio interviews I have heard it is obvious that some people be...
Levitt and Dubner's new book provides insight and thought that basically leaps from where Freakonomics stopped. I love that they take the "truths" that the world hold as self evident and test them. From the radio interviews I have heard it is obvious that some people believe that some things shouldn't be considered. I was floored when their analysis showed that walking drunk was significantly more dangerous than driving drunk. They, of course, are not recommending that we drive drunk (are you stupid, or what?) but that we be more mindful of our decisions. If you can have fun with the intellectual exploration, even if you don't always agree with their conclusions, you'll love this book. Another one I enjoyed recently that I strongly recommend if you're interested in personal development is "Emotional Intelligence 2.0"

posted by Patrick_Newman on October 24, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

14 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

Too many obvious mistakes and too much second-hand material

While people have commented at length (negatively) on the global cooling chapter, no one has pointed out the obvious mistakes in the drunk-walking chapter. Namely, there is "adverse selection" in that drunk-walkers are usually more drunk than drunk drivers. How do you...
While people have commented at length (negatively) on the global cooling chapter, no one has pointed out the obvious mistakes in the drunk-walking chapter. Namely, there is "adverse selection" in that drunk-walkers are usually more drunk than drunk drivers. How do you know this? Who has ever said: "I am too drunk to walk. I think I'll drive" ? Given the obvious error there that a layperson like me can spot (and I also think there is a per-hour and per-mile mistake), and the well-documented errors (including refutation by the sources quoted at length) in the global-cooling chapter, I would both recommend against buying this book and recommend that the authors remove it from the shelves and try again, so as not to destroy the wonderful brand image they created with the first.

I would recommend reading the review in the Guardian to learn how such a bad sequel is almost inevitable after such a promising first effort (Blair Witch Project, anyone?). had I read that, I wouldn't have bought the book.

Howeever, in the lemons-into-lemonade department, I am a teacher and might make unauthorized copies (I feel like I got ripped off buying the book, so all's fair) of both those chapters and give them to my students to hone their critical-thinking skills and get them to comment on why the analysis might be wrong, and how to challenge it, rather than to automatically accept like so many of my students do, that it is in a book by experts with data, so it must be right.

posted by CriticalThinkerMD on October 24, 2009

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  • Posted January 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good read

    There is some great research in this book that can be applied to many other aspects of daily life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2011

    This was a better stand alone book than a "sequel"

    Superfreakonomics establishes itself very early as the same as Freakonomics, only different. Huh? Again the Stephens portray not only an excellent array of theses and research but also follow the same logical and methodical presentation as Freakonomics. Overall I enjoyed this book. It was an easy weekend read and it gives me something to talk about at overly-pretentious parties with people I don't know.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    Very fun read

    If you were a fan of the first one, you'll find more of the same here. The writer's unabashedly take on hard subjects like prostitution and global warming, addressing the issues in novel ways that most readers won't hear in the media.

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  • Posted December 12, 2010

    interesting book!

    .

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  • Posted November 10, 2010

    A Gold Star

    I've never been one for economics, but I must say this book had me hooked. The unexpected, even bizarre correlations between seemingly unrelated issues are both shocking and fascinating, and if you're a fan of obscure statistical comparisons, Superfreakonomics (and it's predecessor, Freakonomics) is the book for you. Whether you're an expert on the subject or not, I guarantee that reading this book will undoubtedly give you an intellectual and conversational edge. I admit, I felt significantly more worldly after reading it. A gold star for Levitt and Dubner, absolutely.

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  • Posted November 8, 2010

    Interesting Read

    This book really brought things to light that people don't usually think about and made it interesting. It made learning about economics fun with interesting topics and wasn't really ever boring to read. I highly recommend people read this book.

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  • Posted November 7, 2010

    Great book. Very thought provoking

    I read Freakonomics about two years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made controversial claims but also backed them up with statistical evidence. This is why I chose to read Super Freakonomics. I find the same type of style and the claims are very well supported. The book has five chapters and each begins with an abstract question or statement. Then the authors explain all of the factors that lead into the title of the chapter. My favorite chapter was "Why Should Suicide Bombers Buy Life Insurance?" Before reading I just assumed the answer was obvious; If they had life insurance, their families would get paid when they died. After reading the chapter however I learned the real answer. Life insurance policies don't pay out if it is a suicide. Therefore, suicide bombers don't but life insurance because it would just be a waste of money. This is interesting because almost everyone else has life insurance so when people want to go through databases looking for potential terrorists, it is easy to find them because not having insurance is a big flag. Each of the chapters has a unique twist on answering a question that I find compelling.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    Captivating! Economic! Thriller?

    Super Freakonomics is a tantilizing read, a book that will keep you interested throughout. The book is especially interesting because it uses seperate relatable topics in each chapter. The authors, both economists of some sort use a variety of interesting data to reveal amusing and enlightening correlations that go against what we are led to believe. The authors also attack wasteful spending in general, including a very feasible, inexpensive fix for global warming, which, they say is over-exaggerated as is. This book is definitely a must read because there is certainly some element of this book that will strike you as surprising. I have not read Freakonomics, the prequel to this book, but based on other reviews it is perhaps better than this book. The quirks of this book and the little unknown facts that the authors find will have an impact on you. The statistics are down to earth and easy to understand and the topics they write about are prominent issues in today's society. Overall a very entertaining book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Superfreakin' Awesome!

    This is a great book about the hidden side of economics, and about desire and incentives. The authors go into detail about two completely unrelated things, then somehow find an amazing correlation between the two and show how they both influence something in our history, such as an increase in salaries for women or a higher birth rate. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as it gives a person who doesn't really know economics all that well a good idea on how the capitalist world functions. Something I disliked was the fact that they leave a LOT of questions unanswered. I understand how this is useful for starting the conversation, but I would have liked a little more explanation and detail. Its major theme is how things you wouldn't expect to be related really are and how even those things are part of a much larger economy, ending with the basics of supply and demand. If there is a large supply of a good or material, the demand for that material will be low. If there is a small supply, the demand will be higher. These basic principles rule our economy, as well as the world's economy. Another major theme is the power of incentives. Everyone is ruled by incentives. A real-estate agent isn't going to work for another two weeks just to sell a house for $10,000 more if he or she only gets another 300 dollars more in commission. An auto-mechanic isn't going to accurately diagnose a problem if he gets another 200 bucks for labor in a few months. You should read this if you are interested in any sort of economics or just want a really interesting read. Overall, I would give this book a 4.5/5 for a great read, just a leaves a little to be desired.

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  • Posted August 2, 2010

    A Worthy Successor

    "Superfreakonomics" is a terrific, balanced and worthy successor to its highly successful original, "Freakonomics". The authors present in an entirely entertaining and humorous way many different topics. They do so in a way that seems quite random, until somewhere late in each chapter where a profound conclusion tying all the concepts of the chapter together. A wonderful fun read that tickles the brain and inspires one to think.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Superfreakin' Engaging!

    It goes without saying that if you enjoyed Freakonomics, this follow-up is a must read. Levitt and Dubner continue their search for intriguing and imaginative research to highlight in their latest work. As someone with a degree in economics, I recognize some of the studies cited from peer-reviewed journals, but reading them was never this fun!

    Unlike the classical image of those who profess the "dismal science" of economics with their endless droning on about marginal cost this, and point-of-indifference that, the authors have taken respected science and turned it into an exciting story full of humor and provocation. You often find yourself reading a little longer than you expected, wanting so desperately to see how the authors fulfill the promise of each chapter's evocative titles--such as "How is a Street Prostitute Like a Department Store Santa?"

    Beside's being an enjoyable and remarkably less-than-taxing read, it is a great way to spark some intelligent debate. The conclusions drawn are all backed by sound economic reasoning and approach, but that doesn't make them any less controversial. Rather than an attempt at settling age-old questions, the authors have presented us with a starting point for asking new ones. Many points in the book challenge your beliefs on various levels, but the engaging manner in which the book is presented encourages you to dig further into the issues rather than bury your head deeper into the sand.

    The authors have done a remarkable job turning complex theory and research into something engaging and stimulating for all. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered how a street prostitute is like a department store Santa, and even to all those who never thought they'd ever hear those two mentioned in the same book let alone sentence! Go ahead, indulge yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    inspirering funny

    makes you look at things in a funny but true way

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Read this book, but wait for it to go on sale

    I liked this book and its predecessor. And I really liked the prostitute's explanation of how and why she decided to charge customers what she decided to charge them. That having been said, I should note that, like its predecessor, this book meanders too much. The authors seem to have trouble understanding which parts people will find interesting and worthy of further exploration in this book, and which parts people won't. I hope they write more books, but we should all wait until they come out in paperback.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    Super Freaky Economics

    "SuperFreakonomics" takes the reader along as professor Steven Levitt and editor Stephen Dubner investigate many micro-economic phenomena that are often overlooked by the media. Levitt addresses many issues that are extremely controversial and sometimes considered "distasteful". Among other things, this book brings up altruism, prostitution, global warming and terrorism. Though I have not read the first edition of the book "Freakonomics", I feel that "SuperFreakonomics" is a very well written book that gives the reader a good insight into the results of the Levitt's investigation.
    I enjoyed reading about all of the strange things that occur not only in human society, but also the society of monkeys in a laboratory. A few of the discoveries are just shocking and mind boggling. The author found many problems with society and offered "cheep" and "easy" solutions to many of the them. Cheap and easy solutions are usually the solution that work. Levitt also tried to find solutions that appealed to people self interest, because after all who is going to do something unless it benefits them personally? The solutions take advantage of the fact that humans are usually selfish. This made it possible for the author and the people he interviewed to think of solutions that might actually work without a large risk, investment of time or require a large sum of money. I also liked that the book was more based off of looking at the world realistically rather than in an end of the world sense.
    This book seemed to cover many subjects, but by doing so seemed to skip out on some details. The book could have gone into more detail on some of the experiments preformed. Some of the sections came to an end abruptly. I understand how the author was trying to raise questions and not answer them, but I feel it wouldn't have hurt if he gave a little bit more information on some of the subjects.
    Overall, I found "SuperFreakonomics" to be very entertaining and enjoyable to read. It was easy to follow and a good intro into economics for people who, like my-self, do not necessarily know much about economics, but would like to know about the strange or "freaky" side of it. If you liked the documentary by Al Gore called and "An Inconvenient Truth", I think you would really enjoy getting another opinion on many of the subjects brought up in the film. However if you are not willing to read about subject like prostitution, this book may not sit well with you. I really liked the book even though it did seem a bit choppy and give it 4 stars out of 5.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    just as much fun as the first one

    I liked Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics is just as good. Loads or random comparisons written with humor. Just two words from this book make it worth the read. Monkey prostitution!

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    a good read

    The book was just as good as the first one for a few reasons. it was once again well written and well backed up with legitimate research or researchers. as controversial as the original book was i think this one was more so touching down on drunk driving global warming and prostitution. i would say that my favorite section was the unbelievable stories about apathy and altruism. i think this section really touched down on how confusing we really are as humans. the global warming section was also interesting because of the explanations of what really is happening. of all the stats in the book i think the most interesting ones are found in this section. i think that it truly paints a picture of what global warming truly is. it also puts out a cheap easy way to fix the problem while at the same time not definitely saying that it will work. people who want to read about a specific way of thinking about money this is not the place to look. however if your looking for a new way to look at things this would be a good place to start. the authors truly look at negative things and turn them in to a whole new light. for people looking for a yes or no i would say if you liked the first freakonomics definitely read this one if you did not like the first one then stay away from super freakonomics. some people may not like the book because they feel that the ideas are poached form researchers but once again levitt and dubner are just throwing ideas out to the world not trying to claim that the ideas are their own.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This new edition of Freakonomics continues to show the talent and perspective of these two intersting authors.The initial book may have been a little more interesting but this one has a lot of bang for the buck as well. I hope we see more from them.

    The chapter on Global Warming is worth the cost of the book. Titled "What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo Have in Common?" it covers many of the Myths and the "externalities" of the issue. This was written before the recent exposing of several proponents emails admitting that the facts show global cooling in recent years.Even so the matters surrounding this issue require attention and action whether man made or not.They show how fragile the planet may be and how so many uncontrollable matters could make huge changes. Very thought provoking...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    when your right.

    I usully dont get into ploitics, but I say when ypur right your right. Now shh! and dont let any Marine here of it

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  • Posted December 21, 2009

    Very Interesting book

    This book contains interesting facts and comparisons.

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  • Posted December 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting stuff, like the previous book

    Would buy Mega Freakonomics when it comes out.

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