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

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Series: Freakonomics (2)

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4,4091141,855 (3.72)77
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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Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
Overall, most of the book was interesting, but the authors have a tendency to digress and go on a few tangents. Often, it takes them a while to make their actual point for a particular chapter. The chapter on prostitution to me was the most interesting. The last one on global warming, while it raises some interesting ideas, was just too long and overdone. By this point in the book, I was just waiting for the book to end. A little editing could have helped. On the positive, it is not a terribly long book, so you can probably read it in a day or two. It does include extensive notes if you wish to read those as well. If you liked the first book, you will probably like this one too. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |

Ever since I read the first Freakonomics book years ago, I became a super freak and LOVED the real-world expose on things we always seem to take for granted.

Incentives work. Period. They work more to control our behavior than anything else.

Prostitution was huge, years ago, because it paid very well compared to any other kind of work that a woman could do. Often ten times the going rate of anything. Cops turned a blind eye because they could partake of the services. Those other really moral people who tried to stop it found they couldn't because they didn't understand the full circumstances. So what reduced prostitution? Higher wages for women in general. Choice. It was never a matter of morality. It was a matter of going where the money is.

If we compare a geophysical engineering event such as setting off a volcano to combat global warming, it would cost a lot LESS than Al Gore's whole PR campaign that tried to browbeat everyone into altruism. And it would be more effective.

The threat of terrorism is often much more effective than actual terrorism. So put away your bomb and just do some more talking about it.

Microeconomics uses real data, is only as effective as the questions being posed, but is still extremely interesting. And enlightening.

Car seats for kids? No statistical difference in saving kids' lives versus seat belts. The seat belts are the real saviors. So instead of having this huge weird industry with mismatching standards for car seats, why don't we have cars with easily adjustable seatbelts?


The numbers don't lie. But human psychology is FULL of blind spots.

Like doctors and washing hands. To find out that one hospital's doctors only washed their hands 9% of the time they OUGHT to have been washing their hands, proven by swabs and analysis of their hands, versus their self-reporting of 60% or so? Or the other many excuses such as time and effort? No incentive fixed that situation better than putting screensavers up on all the computers that showed a magnification of a single caught doctor's hand.

What kind of truly effective incentives do we need to roll out now, with the Coronavirus? Will washing hands truly make the grade? Maybe we should all get a picture of the virus for our screensavers.

But will that take care of all the people who don't WANT to take it seriously? Those people who will prolong the problem for everyone else by spreading it to their friends and neighbors and to their own family members... all of whom might be trying, very carefully, to quarantine themselves?

Maybe we need a shame bell. The same shame bell that was so ... yeah ... in Game of Thrones. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Stepping up their game from their previous entry, the authors offer up much more sensational topics in this book. With this, the underlying premise of shattering conventional wisdom is much more robust. The book lost me a bit in the last chapter, playing more like an infomercial for Intellectual Ventures rather than anything based on concrete data. [Side note: it has been over 10 years since publication and where are our mosquito lasers, salter sinks, and sulfur dioxide sky hoses? I've nary heard of a test prototype of these set up to gather data. If these were "slam dunk" solutions worth writing about, why do they still only exist on paper? My questions are not rhetorical. I actually want to know.] I would much rather have read about a previously invented IV product evaluated retrospectively and look how the data changed. Then at that point, give a peak behind the curtain on could be next. Beyond this, the authors clearly took home lessons learned from their first book and brought the topics involved up to the next level.

With more sensational topics, this follow-up is more engaging that its predecessor, but also not free from criticism - particularly with hindsight being 20/20. ( )
  loaff | May 26, 2020 |
Segunda entrega del mítico Freakonomics, en el que los autores vuelven a enfrentarse a preguntas complejas y sin solución clara usando de manera astuta e inteligente los datos de que disponen. Es un libro refrescante, polémico y muy inteligente. Recomendable del todo. ( )
  Remocpi | Apr 22, 2020 |
Second time reading and still worth the read. It can be a little disheartening to know that some (many / maybe most) of the things discussed didn't make it into mainstream in the past 10 years. That is a lesson in itself and the concept is supported by a few of the stories in SuperFreakonomics. ( )
  Jerry.Yoakum | Sep 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (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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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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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141030704, 1846143039

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