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




“…once a mind is *pre*-blown, it cannot be *re*-blown.”

Dr. Sheldon Cooper – ‘The Big Bang Theory’ – Season 2, Episode 22 ‘The Classified Materials Turbulence’

The authors of ‘SuperFreakonomics’ economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner attempt with their second book to prove that in this case, Sheldon Cooper is definitely incorrect.


Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling more than four million copies in 35 languages and changing the way we look at the world. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with Superfreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that the freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.
SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as: How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa? What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common? Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is: good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.
Freakonomics has been imitated many times over – but only now, with SuperFreakonomics, has it met its match.
©2009 Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers


Dr. Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner are back with more unique takes on how the world works. In this work, they tackle such wide ranging topics as prostitution and medical care, terrorism and global warming. They share their unique outlook and argue that sometimes the cheapest and simplest solutions are often the best possible solutions.
What happened when they attempted to create an algorithm to identify likely terrorists? What are the real causes of global warming and why might some of the commonly accepted solutions actually make the problem worse? Why did it take so long for people to be convinced that washing hands was a good medical practice? These are just some of the diverse questions covered in ‘SuperFreakonomics’.
I don’t think it is possible for me to offer enough praise to the work of Levitt and Dubner. They tell interesting stories that tackle some pretty heavy subjects in a fun way that never comes off as critical of anyone’s personal beliefs. They hit on a wide variety of subjects which increases the likelihood that you’ll find something that catches your interest. This is a more effective way to handle things than if they wrote a book like “Freakonomics on Sports” which would only appeal to a certain subset of their target audience.
My only criticism of ‘SuperFreakonomics’ is that I wish it were longer. There are times that they make a point that I feel could be further elaborated. An example of this relates to how laws designed to get employers to hire people with visual impairments have actually scared employers off of hiring those individuals. I don’t know if even Levitt/Dubner have any idea how many books they will eventually write but when you read ‘SuperFreakonomics,’ you get the feeling that they are not going to run out of material any time soon.
Each of the books written by Levitt and Dubner are gateway books. You don’t have to have read ‘Freakonomics’ before you read ‘SuperFreakonomics’. This is because they do such a good job of laying out their arguments and defining terms.
I found the section on global warming to be the most compelling. Global warming is not as cut and dry an issue as some alarmists would like you to believe. In this way, it is no different from any other issue covered by Levitt and Dubner in their books. It is an issue in which not everything is as it seems. So how is it really? That is something I would advise any interested party to read and find out for themselves.


Levitt and Dubner have a knack for telling stories and making seemingly complex information easily digestible. They never talk above their audience and always provide a thorough explanation when one would be helpful. But the key to their success is that they know how to tell a compelling story that can hold an audience’s attention.


Stephen J. Dubner is back again as the narrator of ‘SuperFreakonomics’. Once again he is a perfectly capable narrator who gives an enthusiastic performance. His tone is very conversational and he reads at a fairly brisk pace. This is why the ability to rewind is so important, as I found myself having to go back and revisit things more than once just to capture all of the information.


This book is slightly different from ‘Freakonomics’ in the production department. For one thing, the audio file chapter stops match the book chapter stops which is much appreciated. There are far fewer musical cues as well. In this volume, there are only music cues at the beginning and end of the book.
The track sounds great and is free of any glitches or other distortions.


I don’t know why, but I enjoyed reading ‘SuperFreakonomics’ a little less than its predecessor. I think that this was in part because when I read ‘Freakonomics’ I had no expectation going in. Reading that one first meant that this one didn’t quite have the same “wow” factor. Sure, some of the information found in the book was quite surprising but in a less dramatic way. It would be interesting to see if someone who read ‘SuperFreakonomics’ before the original would feel the exact opposite way.
‘SuperFreakonomics’ is still an incredibly enjoyable read, even if the “wow” factor is diminished slightly. I call the work of Levitt and Dubner an assault on the conventional wisdom. They see the world in a different way and are able to provide readers with a fascinating account of their vision.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner Stephen J. Dubner Harper Audio Business & Economics 10/20/2009 7 hours, 28 minutes 8.5/10