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Superfreakonomics Lp

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
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Product Details

  • Publisher: HarperLuxe
  • Publishing date: 01/11/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780061927577
  • ISBN: 0061927570

Synopsis

Book Description

The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, 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.

Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What's more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it's so ineffective? Can a sex change boost your salary?

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?
  • Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
  • How much good do car seats do?
  • What's the best way to catch a terrorist?
  • Did TV cause a rise in crime?
  • What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?
  • Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?
  • Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
  • Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?

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. 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.

From Superfreakonomics: Where do you stand on the freak-o-meter?

Four years ago, you were cool. You read Freakonomics when it first came out. You impressed family and friends and dazzled dates with the insights you gleaned. Now Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with Superfreakonomics, a freakquel even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.

Have you been keeping up? Can you call yourself a SuperFreak? Test your Superfreakonomics know-how now:

Question 1: 5 points
According to Superfreakonomics, what has been most helpful in improving the lives of women in rural India?
A. The government ban on dowries and sex-selective abortions
B. The spread of cable and satellite television
C. Projects that pay women to not abort female babies
D. Condoms made specially for the Indian market

Question 2: 3 points
Among Chicago street prostitutes, which night of the week is the most profitable?
A. Saturday
B. Monday
C. Wednesday
D. Friday

Question 3: 5 points
You land in an emergency room with a serious condition and your fate lies in the hands of the doctor you draw. Which characteristic doesn’t seem to matter in terms of doctor skill?
A. Attended a top-ranked medical school and served a residency at a prestigious hospital
B. Is female
C. Gets high ratings from peers
D. Spends more money on treatment

Question 4: 3 points
Which cancer is chemotherapy more likely to be effective for?
A. Lung cancer
B. Melanoma
C. Leukemia
D. Pancreatic cancer

Question 5: 5 points
Half of the decline in deaths from heart disease is mainly attributable to:
A. Inexpensive drugs
B. Angioplasty
C. Grafts
D. Stents

Question 6: 3 points
True or False: Child car seats do a better job of protecting children over the age of 2 from auto fatalities than regular seat belts.

Question 7: 5 points
What’s the best thing a person can do personally to cut greenhouse gas emissions?
A. Drive a hybrid car
B. Eat one less hamburger a week
C. Buy all your food from local sources

Question 8: 3 points
Which is most effective at stopping the greenhouse effect?
A. Public-awareness campaigns to discourage consumption
B. Cap-and-trade agreements on carbon emissions
C. Volcanic explosions
D. Planting lots of trees

Question 9: 5 points
In the 19th century, one of the gravest threats of childbearing was puerperal fever, which was often fatal to mother and child. Its cause was finally determined to be:
A. Tight bindings of petticoats early in the pregnancy
B. Foul air in the delivery wards
C. Doctors not taking sanitary precautions
D. The mother rising too soon in the delivery room

Question 10: 3 points
Which of the following were not aftereffects of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001:
A. The decrease in airline traffic slowed the spread of influenza.
B. Thanks to extra police in Washington, D.C., crime fell in that city.
C. The psychological effects of the attacks caused people to cut back on their consumption of alcohol, which led to a decrease in traffic accidents.
D. The increase in border security was a boon to some California farmers, who, as Mexican and Canadian imports declined, sold so much marijuana that it became one of the states most valuable crops.

Answers and Scoring
Question 1
B, Cable and satellite TV. Women with television were less willing to tolerate wife beating, less likely to admit to having a “son preference,” and more likely to exercise personal autonomy. Plus, the men were perhaps too busy watching cricket.

Question 2
A, Saturday nights are the most profitable. While Friday nights are the busiest, the single greatest determinant of a prostitute’s price is the specific trick she is hired to perform. And for whatever reason, Saturday customers purchase more expensive services.

Question 3
C, One factor that doesn’t seem to matter is whether a doctor is highly rated by his or her colleagues. Those named as best by their colleagues turned out to be no better than average at lowering death rates--although they did spend less money on treatments.

Question 4
C, Leukemia. Chemotherapy has proven effective on some cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and testicular cancer, especially if these cancers are detected early. But in most cases, chemotherapy is remarkably ineffective, often showing zero discernible effect. That said, cancer drugs make up the second-largest category of pharmaceutical sales, with chemotherapy comprising the bulk.

Question 5
A, Inexpensive drugs. Expensive medical procedures, while technologically dazzling, are responsible for a remarkably small share of the improvement in heart disease. Roughly half of the decline has come from reductions in risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which are treated with relatively inexpensive drugs. And much of the remaining decline is thanks to ridiculously inexpensive treatments like aspirin, heparin, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers.

Question 6
False. Based on extensive data analysis as well as crash tests paid for by the authors, old-fashioned seat belts do just as well as car seats.

Question 7
B, Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse-gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food, according to a recent study by Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews, two Carnegie Mellon researchers. Every time a Prius or other hybrid owner drives to the grocery store, she may be cancelling out its emissions-reducing benefit, at least if she shops in the meat section. Emission from cows, as well as sheep and other ruminants, are 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide released by cars and humans.

Question 8
C, the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines discharged more than 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, which acted like a layer of sunscreen, reducing the amount of solar radiation and cooling off the earth by an average of one degree F.

Question 9
C, doctors not taking sanitary precautions. This was the dawning age of the autopsy, and doctors did not yet know the importance of washing their hands after leaving the autopsy room and entering the delivery room.

Question 10
C, the psychological effect of the attacks caused people to increase their alcohol consumption, and traffic accidents increased as a result.

Scoring
32-40: Certified SuperFreak
25-31: Freak--surprises lay in wait for you
16-24: Wannabe freak--you’ve got some reading to do
1-15: Conventional wisdomer--you’re still thinking in old ways


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  • Freakonomics Sophomore Slump ... But In The Other Direction.
    From Amazon

    If every book on thick academic subjects were this interesting and revelatory, well, then I'd probably be reading more books on academic subjects. SuperFreakonomics takes the formula established by Freakonomics Jr. of flipping the obvious on its head and rolling with it. If you're the kind of person who doesn't like having their opinions challenged, you should probably avoid this book. You may not agree with everything at first, but, when you're done, you'll probably be dismissive of children's car seats (but still use them to fit social norms, despite their ineffectiveness). This is the closest economics will ever come to being sexy. Smart, hip, and full of ideas you just might not have heard before, SuperFreakonomics enlightens and confronts akin to Freakonomics Jr. In a way, it is more of the same, but the same just happens to be an idiosyncratic approach to conquering pervasive problems with novel means.

  • Once Maverick Now Mainstream
    From Amazon

    After writing the review for Freakonomics, I thought that I would take a stab at the authors' new book Superfreakonomics which is heralded by numerous critics as being better than the original. Better than the original? I couldn't remember a time when a sequel was better than the original, so I knew I had to read it. Well, sadly, these critics were misleading for (as is typical) the original still outshone the sequel. In the first Freakonomics, Levitt and Dunbar received great acclaim for challenging previously accepted reasons for drop in crime rate and the importance of reading to one's child. They turned such correlations on their head for many laymen readers. However, Superfreakonomics does none of that. In many ways, it falls right into the patterns that Levitt and Dunbar worked so hard in their first book to refute. Their research does not seem fresh and their perspective is not different from the mainstream. Such issues as how TV has changed the lives of Indian women and eating less red meat cuts greenhouse gas emissions are old news. This would all be fine if the book was written five years ago when we knew less about greenhouse gases and global warming, but it was written last year and already tastes a bit stale. One chapter focused on what kind of cancer responds best to chemotherapy. Though this is interesting, I didn't believe it deserved an entire chapter. Instead, it seemed to be material for a short magazine article. Unfortunately, that's how much of this book came off. That the information was not revolutionary and did not make my mind explode the way that their former book had. In addition, this book has faced a great deal more controversy over some of the evidence used in the global warming chapter. Honestly, I didn't think there was anything that out of the ordinary that needed disputing. Overall, I thought that it had grown a bit hackneyed and the research had lost the edge that good ol' Freakonomics has. I guess the "rogue" economist is rouge no more.

  • More of the same Freakonomics
    From Amazon

    I liked Freakonomics better, I think because it was like nothing I had read before. This was more of the same.

  • Secondary benefits make this a worthwhile read...
    From Amazon

    This book reinforces my belief that we should always ask to see the underlying data when reacting to events, situations, or perceptions. Further, the book does a good job of taking the reader through how to find the errors in judgement often present when folks rush to judgment. However, the positives highlighted in the previous two points are not the goals of the authors--just a serendipitous benefit. As with the first edition of this book, the authors present surprising relationships between events and related factors. While the reader may disagree with some of the assertions, the value in reading how one should approach data analysis makes this a worthwhile read.

  • `Many of life's decisions are hard.'
    From Amazon

    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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