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

( 659 )


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 ...

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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, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.

Freakonomics has been imitated many times over – but only now, with SuperFreakonomics, has it met its match.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most survivors of Economics 101 leave the course feeling no great urgency to pick up a book on the subject as leisure reading. One very unconventional book changed that: Steven D. Levitt's 2005 Freakonomics became an international bestseller, racking up sales of more than four million copies. Fans have waited eagerly for this follow-up and, fortunately, it doesn't disappoint. Like its predecessor, SuperFreakonomics explores "the hidden side of everything." In this case, the roster of improbable topics includes the similarities between streetwalkers and department store Santas; the most effective ways to catch terrorists; whether eating kangaroos can save the planet; correlations between television viewing and crime; and whether we're hardwired for altruism and selfishness.
Publishers Weekly
Economist Levitt and journalist Dubner capitalize on their megaselling Freakonomics with another effort to make the dismal science go gonzo. Freaky topics include the oldest profession (hookers charge less nowadays because the sexual revolution has produced so much free competition), money-hungry monkeys (yep, that involves prostitution, too) and the dunderheadedness of Al Gore. There’s not much substance to the authors’ project of applying economics to all of life. Their method is to notice some contrarian statistic (adult seat belts are as effective as child-safety seats in preventing car-crash fatalities in children older than two), turn it into “economics” by tacking on a perfunctory cost-benefit analysis (seat belts are cheaper and more convenient) and append a libertarian sermonette (governments “tend to prefer the costly-and-cumbersome route”). The point of these lessons is to bolster the economist’s view of people as rational actors, altruism as an illusion and government regulation as a folly of unintended consequences. The intellectual content is pretty thin, but it’s spiked with the crowd-pleasing provocations—“'A pimp’s services are considerably more valuable than a realtor’s’” —that spell bestseller. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
A sequel to the megaselling Freakonomics (2005). It's not exactly economics for dummies-or, as Levitt (Economics/Univ. of Chicago) and business journalist Dubner (Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, 2003, etc.) write, "Chicken Soup for the Freakonomics Soul"-but this follow-up is certainly more of the same, a relentlessly enthusiastic cheer for the application of the dismal science to everyday life. That is, everyday life as the world knows it, as when Levitt and Dubner explore some of the curious economic questions on the underside of terror bombings. Econometrics can be a soulless and sometimes divisive business, so the authors may incite some controversy with their report that in the UK, "a person with neither a first nor last Muslim name stood only a 1 in 500,000 chance of being a terrorist," whereas for a person with both first and last Muslim names the odds went to 1:2,000. (They add, however, that the odds scale way back if the person has a savings account and a life-insurance policy.) Less controversial, perhaps, is their look at the economics of prostitution, with some surprising findings-not least that the average street hooker in Chicago earns only $27 an hour and works only 13 hours a week, drawing about $350 a week. They're priced out of the market, the ever-provocative authors assert, by women willing to have sex for free. The authors also write that it's safer to travel by car than by most other means of transport, thanks in part to no less a personage than Robert S. McNamara, and by far less safe to walk drunk than to drive drunk. The authors' view of the climate crisis through an economic lens is similarly spirited, but certainly worth adding to the debate. Jaunty,entertaining and smart. Levitt and Dubner do a good service by making economics accessible, even compelling. Agent: Suzanne Gluck/William Morris Endeavor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594480679
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/20/2009
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven D. Levitt
STEVEN D. LEVITT is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the recipient of the John Bates Clark medal, awarded to the most influential economist under the age of forty.

Stephen J. Dubner is the author of Confessions of a Hero Worshiper and Turbulent Souls and is a former writer and editor at the New York Times Magazine, where in 2003 he wrote the cover story about Steven Levitt that launched FREAKONOMICS. He lives in New York City with his family.

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Table of Contents

An Explanatory Note xiii

Introduction: Putting the Freak in Economics 1

1 How Is a Street Prostitute Like a Department-Store Santa? 26

2 Why Should Suicide Bombers Buy Life Insurance? 81

3 Unbelievable Stories About Apathy and Altruism 139

4 The Fix Is in-and It's Cheap and Simple 190

5 What Do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo Have in Common? 235

Epilogue: Monkeys Are People Too 301

Acknowledgments 309

Notes 313

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Reading Group Guide

Take the Quiz Now!

Where do you stand on the freak-o-meter?

Four years ago, you were cool. You read Freakonomics when it first came out. You impressed family and friends and dazzled dates with the insights you gleaned. Now Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, a freakquel even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.

Have you been keeping up? Can you call yourself a SuperFreak? Test your SuperFreakonomics know-how now:

Question 1
5 points

According to SuperFreakonomics, what has been most helpful in improving the lives of women in rural India?
A. The government ban on dowries and sex-selective abortions
B. The spread of cable and satellite television
C. Projects that pay women to not abort female babies
D. Condoms made specially for the Indian market

Question 2
3 points

Among Chicago street prostitutes, which night of the week is the most profitable?
A. Saturday
B. Monday
C. Wednesday
D. Friday

Question 3
5 points

You land in an emergency room with a serious condition and your fate lies in the hands of the doctor you draw. Which characteristic doesn't seem to matter in terms of doctor skill?
A. Attended a top-ranked medical school and served a residency at a prestigious hospital
B. Is female
C. Gets high ratings from peers
D. Spends more money on treatment

Question 4
3 points

Which cancer is chemotherapy more likely to be effective for?
A. Lung cancer
B. Melanoma
C. Leukemia
D. Pancreatic cancer

Question 5
5 points

Half of the decline in deaths from heartdisease is mainly attributable to:
A. Inexpensive drugs
B. Angioplasty
C. Grafts
D. Stents

Question 6
3 points

True or False: Child car seats do a better job of protecting children over the age of 2 from auto fatalities than regular seat belts.

Question 7
5 points

What's the best thing a person can do personally to cut greenhouse gas emissions?
A. Drive a hybrid car
B. Eat one less hamburger a week
C. Buy all your food from local sources

Question 8
3 points

Which is most effective at stopping the greenhouse effect?
A. Public-awareness campaigns to discourage consumption
B. Cap-and-trade agreements on carbon emissions
C. Volcanic explosions
D. Planting lots of trees

Question 9
5 Points

In the 19th century, one of the gravest threats of childbearing was puerperal fever, which was often fatal to mother and child. Its cause was finally determined to be:

A. tight bindings of petticoats early in the pregnancy
B. foul air in the delivery wards
C. doctors not taking sanitary precautions
D. the mother rising too soon in the delivery room

Question 10
3 Points

Which of the following were not aftereffects of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001:

A. the decrease in airline traffic slowed the spread of influenza.
B. thanks to extra police in Washington, D.C., crime fell in that city.
C. the psychological effects of the attacks caused people to cut back on their consumption of alcohol, which led to a decrease in traffic accidents.
D. the increase in border security was a boon to some California farmers, who, as Mexican and Canadian imports declined, sold so much marijuana that it became one of the states most valuable crops.


Question 1
B, Cable and satellite TV. Women with television were less willing to tolerate wife beating, less likely to admit to having a "son preference," and more likely to exercise personal autonomy. Plus, the men were perhaps too busy watching cricket.

Question 2
A, Saturday nights are the most profitable. While Friday nights are the busiest, the single greatest determinant of a prostitute's price is the specific trick she is hired to perform. And for whatever reason, Saturday customers purchase more expensive services.

Question 3
C, One factor that doesn't seem to matter is whether a doctor is highly rated by his or her colleagues. Those named as best by their colleagues turned out to be no better than average at lowering death rates - although they did spend less money on treatments.

Question 4
C, Leukemia. Chemotherapy has proven effective on some cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and testicular cancer, especially if these cancers are detected early. But in most cases, chemotherapy is remarkably ineffective, often showing zero discernible effect. That said, cancer drugs make up the second-largest category of pharmaceutical sales, with chemotherapy comprising the bulk.

Question 5
A, Inexpensive drugs. Expensive medical procedures, while technologically dazzling, are responsible for a remarkably small share of the improvement in heart disease. Roughly half of the decline has come from reductions in risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which are treated with relatively inexpensive drugs. And much of the remaining decline is thanks to ridiculously inexpensive treatments like aspirin, heparin, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers.

Question 6
False. Based on extensive data analysis as well as crash tests paid for by the authors, old-fashioned seat belts do just as well as car seats.

Question 7
B, Shifting less than one day per week's worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse--gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food, according to a recent study by Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews, two Carnegie Mellon researchers. Every time a Prius or other hybrid owner drives to the grocery store, she may be cancelling out its emissions-reducing benefit, at least if she shops in the meat section. Emission from cows, as well as sheep and other ruminants, are 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide released by cars and humans.

Question 8
C, the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines discharged more than 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, which acted like a layer of sunscreen, reducing the amount of solar radiation and cooling off the earth by an average of one degree F.

Question 9
C, doctors not taking sanitary precautions. This was the dawning age of the autopsy, and doctors did not yet know the importance of washing their hands after leaving the autopsy room and entering the delivery room.

Question 10
C. the psychological effect of the attacks caused people to increase their alcohol consumption, and traffic accidents increased as a result.

32-40 Certified SuperFreak
25-31 Freak-surprises lay in wait for you
16-24 Wannabe freak-you've got some reading to do
1-15 Conventional wisdomer-you're still thinking in old ways


CRAIG FEIED, a onetime Berkeley skateboarder, has revolutionized emergency medicine by building a system that has little to do with actual doctor skill.

IAN HORSLEY is a "completely average and unforgettable" Englishman who found his calling as a bank officer stopping fraud - and who has now turned his attention to using bank data to hunt down terrorists.

NATHAN MYHRVOLD is a physics geek with a realistic, budget-friendly plan to prevent the next Hurricane Katrina - and to stop global warming too. He and his colleagues have another few thousand inventions up their collective sleeve as well.

ALLIE is a highly paid prostitute and unlikely entrepreneur who got rich by maintaining quality control and understanding the market forces of supply and demand.

JOHN LIST is an accidental economist, the son of a truck driver, who proves that most altruism isn't as altruistic as we might think.

SUDHIR VENKATESH, an inventive sociologist who collected real-time, on-the-spot data from Chicago street prostitutes, shows how the feminist revolution has lowered prostitutes' wages (and cheapened the price of oral sex).

KEN CALDEIRA runs an ecology lab at Stanford and is one of the most respected climate scientists in the world - but his research shows that carbon dioxide is the wrong villain, and that even trees can exacerbate global warming.

BEN BARRES, a Stanford neurobiologist who was born Barbara Barres and had a sex-change operation, is part of a statistical look at why men make more money than women.

JOSEPH DE MAY, Jr. is a lawyer and Kew Gardens, Queens, resident, who tears apart the legend of the Kitty Genovese murder, which shocked the world in 1964 because 38 people apparently witnessed the crime and did nothing to help.

K. ANDERS ERICSSON, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, studies talented performers in all fields and finds that the thing we call "raw talent" is vastly overrated.

KEITH CHEN, a thirty-three-year-old, spiky-haired associate economics professor at Yale and the son of Chinese immigrants, taught a bunch of monkeys to use money, disproving Adam Smith's contention that humankind alone had a knack for monetary exchange.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 659 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 661 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    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 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"

    40 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2009

    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 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.

    14 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    sore 1-5 SuperFreakonomics gets a 20!

    Fell in love with the first Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics is an amazing follow up. Same writing style and amazing twist and turns that keep you flipping the page again and again. If you have not read the first Freakonomics I highly recomend that you do so before picking up this book, Levitt and Dubner make several references to their previous work in this amazing use of book binding materials!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Freak your mind, and the rest will follow.

    Superfreakonomics is a friendly but wild read that keeps the mind flexing at a steady pace throughout. It seems impossible that so much diverse information could be assembled into a book this seamless and absorbing, but they have done it. Better than Freakonomics.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    the tradition continues

    If you enjoyed the original Freakonomics, then you want to read the authors' latest foray into the quirky. Once again, they will encourage you to look at things in a new way, and draw connections you never would have imagined. Their ideas for tackling global warming are especially intriguing... and worth exploring! Read this book - the authors will give you much to contemplate.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not as freaky as the original

    Once again, Levitt and Dubner present unique topics and counter-intutitive arguments. However, in Superfreakonomics, they rely too heavily on the research of others, instead of presenting their own work and findings. The book reads more like it was written by Malcolm Gladwell (who relies almost exclusively on third-party research) than by two economists. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but readers looking for another Freakonomics will likely be disappointed.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

    Worth reading

    Enjoyed the whole thing; for me the most entertaining pages (about 10%) of 'Super' are focused on Intellectual Ventures and their solutions for global warming/cooling. Written so everybody can understand and interesting enough to finish without a break.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    Statistics is Not Causality

    I found the book interesting but not all that informative. The authors apparently believe that statistical correlations impart meaning by themselves,and that the underlying causal relationships don't matter. Not so.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2009

    critical thinking

    every reader should realize that conventional wisdom often is not! This a great read and a tutorial on thinking outside the box.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009


    The information is super-useful. Some of it was of immediate use in the classes I've been teaching at college. Only caveat is that sometimes there is an inductive leap in the reasoning chains--but once that is understood it is an extremely useful, creative and worthy book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This would be your standard fare, modest follow-up to a surprisingly successful first effort, if it weren't for the final 20% of the book.

    This would be your standard fare, modest follow-up to a surprisingly successful first effort, if it weren't for the final 20% of the book. Here the authors apply their lens of data and incentives to the global issue of Climate Change. They change the focus from the left-right divide of "whether" there is climate change and to what extent it is manmade to the more meaningful question of what do we do about it. Therein is the revelation. The unintended (some have argued conspiratorially intended) consequences of the single course of remedial action of dramatically reducing manmade carbon through Cap-n-Trade legislations, which would greatly add to costs and taxes in developed countries, would significantly reward the Gore-like doomsayers by creating a mega-market for their carbon-offset investments, while dramatically limiting vast swaths of the planet from advancing beyond subsistence existence.

    (As a side note: given the atmospheric harm done by the methane gases in ruminate belches and farts, an adult could, by a factor of three, decrease their carbon footprint more by cutting out red meat from their diets then by driving a hybrid.)

    But, I digress. The key question is are we looking for a solution or must we accept the tremendously high cost proposals presently being pushed forward. The myopic carbon focus is particularly troublesome especially if there are far less costly and more elegant solutions. Superfreakonomics' review of these possible alternative solutions reveals how little has been included in the public policy debate. The most sobering consideration is that the narrow solutions being driven at Kyoto, Copenhagen and next year, at Mexico City could create as much adverse impact on life as the worst case planetary scenario. But at least Al Gore would have made a pile of money!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009

    Well researched and fun to read!

    This book should be required reading for everyone from high school on up. In fact, if high school kids read this they might become more interested in science and math.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Follow-up!

    It's funny because as his intro explains the issues they had trying to get their book's title approved and the way the book may have an un-cohesive structure and as I listened to this sequel, so to speak, I realized how true it was but at the same time, how "Tarantino-esque" their approach was which made it even more enjoyable (who doesn't like a good Quinten Tarantino film??). The book would take you into a subject which it would sentence-summarize in the beginning, then send you all over the world into different directions and down back roads through a scenic route and then BOOM! The subject's point is reached, and you're almost sad because it means the trip is over! lol I would recommend it to anyone whose interests include a variety of scientific and historical facts and fascinations.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    Don't waste your money

    I really liked Freakonomics and was looking forward to the sequel Super Freakonomics . What a major disappointment!!! The content of each chapter wondered unmercifully from the chapter titles. Old material form Freakonomics was rehashed and the new material was not very interesting except for the subject on global warming. DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. I would ask for a refund if I could. P.S. The book contained about 320 pages of which the last 50 pages were appendices!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    Not as good as the original...

    ...but some interesting thoughts nonetheless. I highly recommend the global warming chapter (at a minimum) for all the 'environmentalists' out there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2010

    The freaky world of an economist

    Economist Steven D. Levitt refuses to look at the world the way everybody else does, he believes that given the right questions and a little economics everything in the world can be explained. His book SuperFreakonomics, co-written with Stephen Dubner, refuses to take anything for granted as it challenges conventional thinking. In it he examines some of the most controversial and challenging questions of our time (Are people innately altruistic? How do you catch a terrorist? How do you solve global warming?), as well as some that are just bizarre (How is TV related to crime?, Who adds more value pimps or realtors? What do hurricanes, heart attacks and highway deaths have in common?) and methodically breaks them down variable by variable. Using this method as well as some data mining they are able to unbiasedly analyze controversial topics and provide solutions and explanation. The brilliance of this book stems from its ability to persuade the reader to look at the world differently. Using case studies they demonstrate that some of the most pressing questions the has faced were solved simply through a little creative thinking. Take the birthing problem as an example, it used to be that women who gave birth at home had a much higher probability of surviving then those who gave birth at a hospital. Even more puzzling was the fact that the midwives ward had a death rate far lower then the doctors ward. Explanations for this odd occurrence, were bizarre ranging from the idea that doctors offended the patients modesty to foul air in the doctors ward. It took a doctor realizing that the diseases were the same that a doctor contracted after being exposed to dead bodies from dissection. He observed that doctors often preformed cadaver dissections before delivering children, and came to the conclusion that particular must be infecting women in labor. By simply ensuring that doctors sterilized their hands in ether before exiting the surgical wing thousands of lives where saved in a single hospital. In the process he also completely changed common perception and now his breakthrough is common place because its simple and effective. If there is a single theme to the studies found in this book it is the idea that a little inventive thought can turn perceptions upside down and a simple actions like washing your hands, can have massive effects. This book is different, different in the way it approaches thinking, different in that it makes economics genuinely entertaining. The analyses were fascinating, the case studies were relevant, and the conclusions that Levitt and Dubner reached were mind boggling. This book opens your mind to the idea that nothing should be taken for granted and everything should be tested. With this type of mind set, Levitt and Dubber see all types of hidden interacts and processes beyond the obvious, and as a result they are able to find correlation between all types of occurrences, and show why conventional thinking is flawed. This book shows the inherent freakiness of the world and that alone makes it well worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Levitt and Dubner Have Done It Again

    "How Is a Street Prostitute Like a Deparment-Store Santa?" This is the title of the first chapter of SuperFreakonomics. Dubner and Levitt have once again presented an examination of seemingly unrelated topics that end up revealing some big answers about our world. The Sequel is not quite as strong as the original in terms of presenting ground-breaking research. The pop economics phenomenon was touched off by the original Freakonomics, and since a flood of books have been released that cover how data analysis may be used to uncover relations among seemingly extraneous details. The theme is getting a little tired this book stands out as one of the better ones though.

    This book is once again very well written and presented. The chapter entitled "What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo Have In Common?" is funny and presents a very interesting take on the solutions to the global warming problem. There may have been some controversy about how the chapter is written, but the point Dubner and Levitt make still stands. Controversy aside this is a great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    Super Freakonomics Review by Joshua Choate

    Joshua Choate
    Period AM
    May 7, 2010
    Miss Alvarez
    Book Review
    Super Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, published in 2009 by Harper Collins Publishers. Approximately 219 pages.
    Authors: Steven D. Levitt was born on May 29th, 1967. He went to St. Paul Academy and Summit School, later graduating from Harvard University in 1989. He earned a Ph.D. from MIT in 1994 and published Freakonomics in April of 2005. He currently teaches Economics at the University of Chicago and has written over 60 academic publications. Stephen J. Dubner is the co-author of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics. He is also the author of Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family, and Confessions of a Hero-Worshipper. He went to Appalachian State University and today he teaches in the English Department at Columbia University.
    Thesis: The main idea behind Super Freakomics is the notion of taking macro economics out of the picture and focusing on micro economics. This means exploring the economic transactions between people as individuals and not as a whole. For example, the authors addressed subjects such as the interactions between prostitutes and clients, the effect of global warming on people's livelihoods and the flaws of the effects of the health insurance industry on patients.
    Summary: Freakonomics offered a different way of viewing its three main subjects: the economics of prostitution, the economic effects of global warming, and the more intimate flaws of the healthcare system. When discussing prostitution, the authors addressed how the demand for prostitution correlates with the supply of people willing to conduct the act, even showing how prostitution itself acts in the same way as a household good. When there is a high demand for it, the supply is relatively scarce or laws prevent it. On the subject of global warming, Levitt and Dubner mentioned how a group of scientists had come up with a more efficient way of reducing chimney size to decrease the amount of C02 in the atmosphere. This new innovation helped to solve the global climate problem in a more tangible and less expensive way. When it came to the issue of health insurance, Levitt and Dubner focused on the conduct of doctors who often had to choose which patients would mean more money for them .
    Analysis: Super Freakonomics is an exposé of the types of economics that people are often less willing to address or face. The authors Levitt and Duber expose these issues so that people will be more inclined to come face to face with them. The authors also reveal things to their audience that would otherwise be perceived as unbelievable. One was the story of monkeys being taught to use money. This is a central and pivotal part of their message which is that no matter what the person or species, anyone who uses money uses it in the same way. In their story the monkeys developed the basic knowledge for the use of money and they soon began to discover ways of getting more which led to them reverting to crimes such as petty theft, actual monkey prostitution(on rare occasions) and other illegal monetary transactions.
    Reviews: James Altucher from the Financial Adviser says that Super Freakonomics is more a story about people than about new ideas. What drives the people behind these ideas to take conventional wisdom and turn it completely on its head". Aaron Crowe, critic for, says, "I

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Bad science

    The New Yorker review claimed that this book's take on global warming had been debunked by scientists on the "real climate" blog. So I looked at that. There's a very detailed critique of one specific point in a open letter to Levitt. Levitt himself answers. He doesn't argue with any part of the critique. He responds snottily by saying that his case against solar cells wasn't about how they radiate heat. But if you go back and look at the book, that is precisely the argument made. So Levitt is being dishonest, violating the fundamental value of science. It only takes one example of dishonesty to make the entire book suspect.
    In the previous book, which was limited more to the things Levitt himself had worked on, the conclusions were a stretch, but the reader was given the research results and they were interesting to think about. In this book, the authors have gone too far.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    Great Book! Learn about Econ the way it should be taught!

    Great Book! Learn about Econ the way it should be taught! This is a great companion to other similar works. It will help to fine tune your perspective on a wide variety of subjects.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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