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More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics [Paperback]

Steven E. Landsburg
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 July 2009
With his long-running 'Everyday Economics' column in Slate and his popular book, The Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg has been leading the pack of economists who are transforming their science from a drab meditation on graphs and charts into a fascinating window on human nature. Now he's back and more provocative than ever with surprises on virtually every page. In More Sex is Safer Sex, Professor Landsburg offers readers a series of stimulating discussions that all flow from one unsettling fact. Combining the rational decisions of each of us often produces an irrational result for all of us. Avoiding casual sex can actually encourage the spread of diseases. To solve population pressures, we need more people. In his tantalizing, entertaining narrative, Landsburg guides us through these shocking notions by the light of compelling logic and evidence and makes suggestions along the way: Why not charge juries if a convicted felon is exonerated? Why not let firemen keep the property they rescue? As entertaining as it is inflammatory, More Sex is Safer Sex will make readers think about their decisions in unforgettable ways -- and spark debate over much that we all take for granted.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (6 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847395260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847395269
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Steve Landsburg is one of my favorite economics writers, and his new book is no exception. While I don't always agree with him, he usually gets me thinking, and he always entertains." -- Greg Mankiw, former Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and author of "Principles of Economics"

About the Author

Steven E. Landsburg writes the popular 'Everyday Economics' column in Slate magazine and has also written for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He teaches in the department of economics at the University of Rochester.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More counterintuitive economics from Landsburg 13 Jan 2008
Following on from 'the armchair economist' Steven Landsburg has released this book. It's in a similar vein to 'Freakonomics' and the 'Undercover Economist' so if you enjoyed those you'll probably like this (but I'm sure Amazon has probably already worked that out and told you). Landsburg tends to more closely focus on what could be termed 'traditional economics' supply demand etc than Freakonomics, but he takes the same counterintuitive lines of argument which have you gripped by the frustration of being certain his conclusion should be wrong but knowing that his logic is right. There are occasional lapses where you see an underlying falacy poking through but they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. After all, thinking that some of the arguments are disprovable and trying to do so is probably half the fun. Would recommend to any Economics students or armchair economists as proof that there is indeed more to the dismal science than meets the eye.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Utter tosh - approach with extreme caution 8 July 2010
With its eye-catching and provocative title, I really wanted to enjoy this book. Sadly, most of it is lazy, self-indulgent twaddle with more holes than a Swiss cheese and proves nothing more than that with a big enough ego, a good line in headline journalism and enough (usually unstated) assumptions, you can write whatever you like - the more outrageous and counter-intuitive the better - and present it as a revelation.

Occasionally, he pulls his finger out and writes something half-way sensible and vaguely interesting, but ultimately, I struggled to wade through and gave up.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars However, back in the real world... 20 Jan 2009
This book is proof that economists don't inhabit the same planet as the rest of us. Economists start from the premise that humans are rational beings, weighing up costs and benefits before making a decision about "resources". The rest of us know that human beings are irrational creatures, driven by prejudices, fears, ideologies, group pressures, and so on.

Whilst the subjects discussed in the book could be thought-provoking, the thought is more often along the lines of "that's a bit of a leap of logic" or "you've omitted an equally valid conclusion".

The example that leads to the title is a prime example of the failure to think a little more carefully. In essence, the idea is that if an uninfected guy goes out and picks up an uninfected woman, she will be saved from a one night stand with an infected partner and thus the spread of AIDS is reduced; whereas if he stays home, she will end up with the infected guy and spread the disease. There is no mention of the odds she'll become infected, no mention of what happens when the virtuous cycle is broken (a massive *increase* in infection rates); just a rather simplistic approach to the problem.

Another example: he postulates two groups, one a religious group that adamantly opposes porn, and the second a porn-loving group that wants to abolish religion. His view is that by abolishing both porn and religion, everybody becomes happier because the object of their ire has been removed. Unfortunately, the opposite (never mentioned) is the more likely outcome: everybody is now unhappy. Why? Because people put more weight on issues that affect them personally than on those that affect others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and sloppy 10 Aug 2009
Book in a paragrpah "Think whatever you would normally think and then just reverse it. Then repeat. On and on and on for various topics, without spending any amount of time on ALL of the relevant information to draw valid conclusions", despite the author advising readers that this is what counts in any decision.

Eg, in calculating whether sexual history is relevant in rape cases, the author could have factored in the fact that only a small percent actually get to court, and that this amount of relevant information massively outweighs the small amount of relevant information from a person's history, if we're going to draw conclusions about individual cases from statistics and encourage behaviour and decisions accordingly.

Loved freakonomics, and would recommend you read that instead, or anything by Malcolm Gladwell - more thought provoking, rigorous and generally entertaining than this boring monotony of repeated half-investigated statements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It seems the author here is trying too hard to provoke the ire of established convention...
This would work well if it was also well-reasoned and backed up by good evidence. I love a "turning the tables on established thought" story as well as anybody. There are some good examples of this in, say "The Undercover Economist" (by Tim Harford), and to be honest, I was hoping for more of the same in this book.

This one, however, just isn't quite as slick. There's a lot of speculation, and far less actual evidence backing it up.
Some of the reasoning is sloppy, simply speculating about what *could* be a potential cause... without any actual studies into whether this is even plausible. There are several points where he doesn't seem to stop to consider that actually the cause may be quite different to what he was thinking... but that doesn't seem to matter - he wants to try out his ideas to "fix" the world's problems regardless!

The author has a lot of theories on what he thinks would work well to "fix everything" (yes really), but my feeling is that much of his reasoning isn't actually carried far enough forward. It especially does not cover the potential side-effects of his "policies" - especially on those too poor to cope with the drastic changes he espouses (can I recommend the author read "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich ?)

While some of the book was mildly diverting (including his interesting reasoning as to why low-libido "safe" people should have more sex for the Good of the Human Race)... the bulk of the book left me feeling disappointed.

Conclusion: not worth it :(
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great continuation from The Armchair Economist
Landsburg is a brilliant writer and each chapter in this book is fun to read and yet at the same time very cerebral. Buy it!
Published 11 months ago by Adam
3.0 out of 5 stars Unclear
I loved Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics so this book seemed like a good choice at the time. However, the book is unclear ando ften I found it to go on tangents. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Ms. K. D. Chadha
3.0 out of 5 stars Before the undercover economist there was Steve E. Landsburg
Or so the blurb on the back reports.

The main subject matter of this book are what economists refer to as spill over effects (or which have been refered to by other... Read more
Published on 12 Sep 2011 by Lark
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Logic, Incomplete Reasoning
I am sure Landsburg is a brilliant mind. He breaks down some interesting concepts in this book, but the reasoning is not always sufficiently well-argued and as another review... Read more
Published on 10 Nov 2010 by sanyata
5.0 out of 5 stars More Sex is Safer Sex
Another collection of Steven Landsburg's writings. One of the few genuinely amusing books about economics and gives an interesting persepective on a number of questions
Published on 8 Mar 2010 by M. Dunn
4.0 out of 5 stars ummm....ummmm....ok!
spill over effects,what a strange but simple way to look at events which otherwise look harmful in the long term, like overpopulation/overcrowding. Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2009 by thesiberian
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy "Freekonomics" or "The Undercover Economist" instead
Having brought a couple of popular economics books in the past, namely "Freekonomics" and "The Undercover Economist" I saw this one on offer in WH Smiths and hoped that it would be... Read more
Published on 13 July 2009 by Mr. M. J. Young
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Not nearly so good as "The Armchair Economist" - just a collection of left over ideas
Published on 31 May 2009 by E. E. Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book by a gifted thinker. Please ignore the fools who...
On reading this book I was simply stunned to see any negative reviews. And then when I read the reviews and saw their fallacies... Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2009 by Mr. T. White
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