The ‘freakuel’ to Dubner and Levitt’s international bestselling phenomenon; Superfreakonomics uses the same analytical style of Freakonomics, but applies it to different topics. Once again applying statistical analysis to problems where you wouldn’t normally think of using it, Levitt and Dubner manage to tip over a bunch of sacred cows and really make you think about things. They readily admit that the point isn’t whether you believe them; the point is that you’re thinking. And this book inspires thinking in spades.
Four years in the making, Superfreakonommics covers every topic in the title, and then some. The book reveals, among other things, why you are more likely to be killed walking drunk than driving drunk (because deaths by walking drunk are five times more likely, per mile, than deaths from driving drunk); how a prostitute is similar to a store Santa (they both work more during the holidays); why terrorists should buy life insurance (because it tricks the profilers when they’re looking at their bank records); how a sex change could boost your salary; and how there really is a cheap fix for climate change.
Of course, it’s not just the answers that are interesting, but the process that the authors walk you through to get to them from what seem like idle speculations. Entertaining and well written, the book presents itself in a tone that does that magical trick of straddling the line between being informal and scientific. Levitt and Dubner use the tools of science in general and economics in specific to tackle these unconventional topics, and each page is an enjoyment, watching them go at it and do their best to surprise readers with what they found. Occasionally they get a little too ambiguous and overzealous (comparing Al Gore to the high priest of a church full of climate change).
In some parts, one also feels the authors simply decided to take a widely held opinion and argue against it just to prove that they are smarter than everyone else. Case inpoint – the chapter on Global Warming. In fact there have been quite a few strong rebuttals to the authors’ take on this topic.
However, Levitt and Dubner are great writers with a witty sense about them. Anyone who picks up this book will be entertained and hopefully give more thought as to how to solve some of the world’s most vexing issues.