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

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

3.9 663
by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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Freakonomics lived on the New York Times bestseller list for an astonishing two years. Now authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with more iconoclastic insights and observations in SuperFreakonomics—the


Freakonomics lived on the New York Times bestseller list for an astonishing two years. Now authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with more iconoclastic insights and observations in SuperFreakonomics—the long awaited follow-up to their New York Times Notable blockbuster. Based on revolutionary research and original studies SuperFreakonomics promises to once again challenge our view of the way the world really works.

Editorial Reviews

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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HarperCollins Publishers
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7.80(w) x 5.32(h) x 0.82(d)

Meet the Author

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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SuperFreakonomics 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 663 reviews.
Patrick_Newman More than 1 year ago
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"
Sebastian_Booker More than 1 year ago
I bought an advance reading copy (the ones publishers send to the press) of SuperFreakonomics online because I loved the first book and couldn't wait. Without giving away too much, I'll tell you that the authors take their witty, irreverent explorations up a notch in this one, which makes it deeply entertaining. This even freakier follow-up is filled with more unexpected answers to inquiries that no one else dares to address, as they lucidly illuminate the hidden relations between seemingly disparate people and events. If you loved the first one, I say click and buy! Another book I really enjoyed that I suggest you check out if you're interested in interesting research and personal development is EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0
patriotic-prostitute More than 1 year ago
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!
bruce9 More than 1 year ago
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.
openmindSD More than 1 year ago
every reader should realize that conventional wisdom often is not! This a great read and a tutorial on thinking outside the box.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
WhoOui More than 1 year ago
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.
MsAMorrison More than 1 year ago
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.
RikF More than 1 year ago
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!!!
karcher70 More than 1 year ago
...but some interesting thoughts nonetheless. I highly recommend the global warming chapter (at a minimum) for all the 'environmentalists' out there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Seghetto More than 1 year ago
"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.
jcrubicon More than 1 year ago
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!
martunes More than 1 year ago
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.
PhDrSeuss More than 1 year ago
Cal32 More than 1 year ago
This book is easy to read and appears to be factual. The book also is not political.
thebookwebcom More than 1 year ago
Steve D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner specialize in counterintutive observations and analysis of things we all usually for granted, challenging accepted wisdom and convention in entertaining, provocative and often disturbing ways. It isn't necessary to take all of their conclusions as seriously as they appear to do. It's the thought process that is important. We would do well to apply some of their techniques to some of our assumptions and prejudices. See this book on www.thebookweb.com
PrincessPunzee More than 1 year ago
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.
Cornellian More than 1 year ago
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.
Sarah-Y More than 1 year ago
I found this book very interesting to read. Even if it wasn't entirely factual I still thought it was insightful and entertaining. I would definitely recommend it to a friend or anyone who is looking for a book that will offer some interesting perspectives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has been oftenly looked at as if it was a textbook. Because of this there were tons of negative reviews. But this book isn't intended to be a textbook, nor is it written like one, but why would it, no one enjoys reading textbooks. Super Freakonomics is a good exercise in critical thinking; it makes one think about a lot of "truths" that we take for granted. For example, this book actually made me change my perspective of some of my thoughts about global warming. The book is super-interesting, and full of information that isn't really found much where else in every day typical reading. One of the points which was relentlessly made was how people, more specifically our government seems to prefer complex, costly solutions to problems. When there are cheaper and simpler solutions that often do exist, and the book does a great job of providing many examples of this. It doesn't cover many topics but it's not suppose to do so, it is not a textbook, but is it worth to read? Yes it is.
jordankeen10 More than 1 year ago
Superfreakonomics is a book about the secret behind economics in our society. The two authors logged hundreds of hours of live research to come up with conclusions based off of what they found in their studies, and provided insight on many industries we wouldn't think would be so popular or big. It is a fascinating book that captivates the reader with witty humor or truthful analysis.