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SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic…

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide… (2009)

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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4,1131091,833 (3.71)76
Whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically, Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling to show how people respond to incentives.

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» See also 76 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Fascinating account of incentives on human behavior. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner (2009). Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. London: Allen Lane. 2009. ISBN 9780713999914. Pagine 256. 14.99 £

Moltissimi anni fa, pochi giorni prima della morte del Grande Timoniere (quindi doveva essere la fine d’agosto o l’inizio di settembre del 1976), in viaggio alla volta della Sardegna con gli zii, ci fermammo a mangiare da quello che all’epoca era il più reputato ristorante di Castiglion della Pescaia. Mi pare si chiamasse Romano (non esiste più da tempo). Ci servì di secondo dei gamberoni, o delle mazzancolle, spettacolari, fritti con una spolverata di pan grattato. Chiedemmo il bis. Il secondo piatto faceva schifo, tanto che accusammo Romano di aver riutilizzato lo stesso olio.

I sequel, nei libri ancor più che nei film e nei ristoranti, sono in genere peggiori dell’originale. Penso che la ragione vada divisa, ma non in parti eguali, tra autore e lettore. Al lettore manca l’effetto sorpresa: sa già quello che si deve aspettare, i punti di forza del modo di scrivere e di argomentare dell’autore li dà per scontati, i punti deboli e le cadute di stile li trova ormai, più che irritanti, insopportabili. Ma le responsabilità principali le ha in genere l’autore che, spinto dal successo del libro precedente, dai diritti che gli intasano il conto bancario e dalle pressioni della casa editrice, ti propina more of the same. E questo more of the same è, magari, qualche cosa che (saggiamente) l’editor aveva espunto dal primo volume, o una compilation frettolosa di articoli pubblicati sui quotidiani sull’onda del successo.

L’unico capitolo che meriti di essere letto, secondo me, è il quinto, “What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?”

* * *

Pochissime citazioni:

And yes, just as your grandmother always told you, practice does make perfect. But not just willy-nilly practice. Mastery arrives through what Ericsson calls “deliberate practice.” This entails more than simply playing a C-minor scale a hundred times or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its pocket. Deliberate practice has three key components: setting specific goals; obtaining intermediate feedback; and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome [p. 61]

To build this fast, flexible, muscular, encyclopaedic system, Feied and Smith turned to their old crush:object-oriented programming. They set to work using a new architecture that they called “data-centric” and “data-atomic.” Their system would deconstruct each piece of data from every department and store it in a way that allowed it to interact with any other piece of data, or any other 1 billion pieces. [p. 72]

[…] “Are people really altruistic?” is the wrong kind of question to ask. People aren’t “good” or “bad”. People are people, and they respond to incentives. [p. 125]

To solve this puzzle, Semmelweis became a data detective. [p. 135]

[…] “McNamara is selling safety but Chevrolet is selling cars.” [p. 158]

Indeed, if we hadn’t played with Mother Nature by using ammonium nitrate to raise our crop yields, many readers of this book wouldn’t exist today. (Or they would at least be too busy to read, spending all day scrounging for roots and berries.) [p. 160]

Because cows – as well as sheep and other cud-chewing animals called ruminants –are wicked pollutants. Their exhalation and flatulence and belching and manure emit methane, which by one common measure is twenty-times more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide released by cars (and, by the way, humans). The world’s ruminants are responsible for about 50 percent more greenhouse gas than the entire transportation system. [p. 167: poco sotto spiega perché il movimento "locavore" peggiora il problema, dal momento che la fase di produzione pesa per l'80% delle emissioni e i piccoli produttori sono molto più inefficienti dei grandi, mentre la fase di trasporto pesa soltanto per l'11%; però, ci spiega Mary Roach in Gulp, gli erbivori non ruttano] ( )
  Boris.Limpopo | Apr 29, 2019 |
How can you say something so controversial and yet so mundane? Levitt and Dubner's sequel to their economics-orientated pop-think book is as interesting and as intellectual as ever. They shed light on the hidden sides to the everyday economics of decisions - but this book isn't about economics. It's a multidisciplinary approach to tackling one key thing: Why do people make the decisions we make? In a way, everything is purchasing - time, effort, the environment. Everything is a transaction, and our duo write an amazing explainer of the subtleties that make mass murderers, or prostitutes, or seatbelt-wearers, or suicide-bombers, or doctors who don't wash their hands. Or... Monkeys that engage in prostitution.

Everything is economical, but not everything is rational. And this book will show you why.
( )
  yassie_j | Feb 11, 2019 |
Amazing! I definately want to purchase for my special "owned" home books. This is definately a keeper. ( )
  Starla_Aurora | Oct 29, 2018 |
Just didn't dig this one like I did the first. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Levitt and co-author Stephen Dubner's new book "Super Freakonomics" is a follow-up to their super smash 2005 bestseller, "Freakonomics." Thank goodness they are back -- with wisdom, wit and, most of all, powerful economic insight.
If ever two writers were likely to suffer from "difficult second book" syndrome, it's Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, authors of the smash-hit Freakonomics, which made them the rock stars of the economics world.
The economist and the journalist again attack the concept of the rational man, via studies involving monkeys, banking records, and doctors. Yet there’s an artfulness missing this time around in their circuitous paths toward obvious conclusions like “technology isn’t always better” and “men and women are different.”
The difficulty with the book is that while the focus may be fairly fuzzy to begin with, it gets a lot fuzzier as it goes on. There’s a long passage about how people behave differently when they’re being scrutinised – thus making a nonsense of most behavioural experiments – and an even longer one about global warming.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven D. Levittprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dubner, Stephen J.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141030704, 1846143039

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