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Superfreakonomics Paperback – May 24 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 24 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554686091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554686094
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Like Freakonomics, but better ... thrilling ... you are guaranteed a good time ... underneath the dazzle, there is substance too Tim Harford, Financial Times Levitt is a master at drawing counter-intuitive conclusions ... great fun ... Superfreakonomics travels further than its predecessor Tom Standage, Sunday Times A humdinger of a book: page-turning, politically incorrect and ever-so-slightly intoxicating, like a large swig of tequila The Times One of the most important books you'll read this autumn GQ Levitt and Dubner's zeal for statistical anomalies is as undimmed as their eye for a good story ... lie back and let Levitt and Dubner's bouncy prose style carry you along from one peculiarity to the next Sunday Telegraph There's material here not just for one conversation, but for several.The authors mash together interesting academic research, surprising historical comparisons ... and cute factoids Daily Mail [Freakonomics] was fascinating ... [SuperFreakonomics] is similarly studded with intriguing examples of economic analysis in action Daily Telegraph Entertaining BBC Focus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling more than four million copies.

Now Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that this freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.

SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, with such questions as:

  • How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  • What's the best way to catch a terrorist?
  • What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?
  • Are people hardwired for altruism or selfishness?
  • Can eating kangaroo save the planet?

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.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Much like Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics is an entertaining book that covers a wide variety of unrelated topics in a fun way. But in contrast with Freakonomics, it is less reliant on econometric analysis and more on anecdotal evidence. As a result, its conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt.

For example, their finding that it is safer to drive than walk while drunk depends on several assumptions that may not hold. One such assumption is that the level of inebriation is on average the same for both drunk walkers and drunk drivers whereas, as they point out themselves earlier in the section, most people believe it is safer to walk when drunk, indicating that those who walk while drunk are probably more inebriated than those who drive while drunk. But to put things in context, that was just a small example and is only a very minor part of the book.

Sadly, many critics and reviewers are basing their entire opinion of the book on the last chapter concerning global warming. Let me just point out that it is not true that they are claiming that global warming is not a problem. Yes, they do mention some old global cooling theories from the 70's. But put this in the context of this book - a random collection of fun facts - and you can see why such theories were mentioned.
But that misses the main point of the chapter. In fact, the purpose of the chapter is to find a way to cool the globe, but using geoengineering, as opposed to restricting emissions of Carbon Dioxide. They propose an idea sponsored by Intellectual Ventures, a company whose business is to accumulate patents in a wide range of fields. The plan basically entails the injection of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, which would reflect sunlight and possibly cool the Earth.
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While I enjoyed reading this book, I found it wasn't as strong as Freakonomics. Some of the assumptions seemed less defensible than those in the original. At times it was thought provoking, but overall something of a let down. It is a very quick read.
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Format: Audio CD
Much like the first book , Superfreakonomics engages the listener through a fascinating combination of research and story telling. The unabridged audio set is narrated by author Steven Levitt, who's voice is enjoyable. This book seems to be getting some flack from environmentalists for the way that it tackles solutions to the global warming problem. But like it or not, this book adds a lot to the discussion and reveals some very novel and counter-intuitive ways to solve this problem. Whether you agree or disagree with them, Levitt and Dubner make their topics fun and interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is not really about economics, and unlike its predecessor, Freakanomics, it is a really good read. What Superfreakonomics is about is the clever use of statistics. But who would buy a book entitled 'New discoveries based on the unconventional interpretation of statistics'.
One early example of the clever interpretation of statistics consists of the story of a nineteenth century Viennese physician who found that he could reduce greatly the maternal mortality rate in his hospital if he required doctors to wash their hands before they did a delivery, and this was decades before Louis Pasteur discovered bacteria.
Jumping right ahead to the 21st century, the authors reinterpret other statistics. They discover that children whose mothers fasted during pregnancy because of Ramadan are more likely to suffer from behavioural and learning disabilities. And that condoms are more likely to fail in India than elsewhere because Indian men apparently have small penises. (Has anyone ever tried studying whether the mothers of suicide bombers fasted during pregnancy?)
The chapter on climate change is the weakest. The authors start out well enough by demonstrating that statistics can be used to prove as well as disprove the occurrence of climate change, and they point out that in the past volcanic eruptions have caused cooling that could be interpreted as climate change. And this was written before the recent eruption of the Icelandic volcano. The authors are to be congratulated for pointing out the often forgotten obvious fact that it makes no sense to say that humans should not interfere with nature. This would mean letting diseases take their toll, and that's just for starters. So far so good.
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Format: Hardcover
Three of the five chapters of this book are presented as questions:
How is a street prostitute like a department store Santa?
Why should suicide bombers buy life insurance?
What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?

The other two are:
The fix is in ... and it's cheap and simple
Unbelievable stories about apathy and altruism.
These two chapter titles aren't quite so catchy, but there is some really good material buried within on topics such as the benefits of hand washing and the benison of fertiliser. Posing questions in the form of catchy chapter titles is one way to get people's attention, and much of the material presented is entertaining and thought-provoking. But what about the conclusions? Can it possibly be true that there is a cheap fix for climate change? But how do we (globally) measure `cheap', and who determines whether it is effective?

I found the various anecdotes interesting and generally entertaining. But I found myself wondering whether this book added materially to the ground already covered so successfully in `Freakonomics'. Clearly, for some readers, it does. I'm not convinced.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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