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71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If it ain't broke...
'Superfreakonomics' is the cumbersomely titled sequel to the bestselling 'Freakonomics' - a book that gave an entertaining overview of microeconomics, and supplied plenty of food for thought. If you enjoyed the first volume, you will undoubtedly enjoy 'SuperFreakonomics'. It is essentially the same book, but with different case studies - if your first book sold over four...
Published on 23 Oct 2009 by Quicksilver

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as freakonomics
An enjoyable book that covers some unusual subjects but is not as good as the original freakonomics book.

This one goes into a lot more detail on a single subject and as a result is not as wide-ranging, and does at times feel as if its trying to imply that the reader cannot draw their own conclusions from the initial information provided. The original...
Published on 8 April 2010 by Darren Henman


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71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If it ain't broke..., 23 Oct 2009
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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'Superfreakonomics' is the cumbersomely titled sequel to the bestselling 'Freakonomics' - a book that gave an entertaining overview of microeconomics, and supplied plenty of food for thought. If you enjoyed the first volume, you will undoubtedly enjoy 'SuperFreakonomics'. It is essentially the same book, but with different case studies - if your first book sold over four million copies, why change a winning formula?

Initially I was unimpressed; the first chapter, dealing with prostitution felt like a rehash of the first book, only less interesting. Soon after, things pick up. The sections on emergency medicine and altruism were interesting and ask questions about the way in which we perceive our world. It is these alternate world views that are the 'Freakonomics' books strongest assets. Time and again the authors hold up a hand and say 'but what about...?'

Not everybody will be happy. The authors offer some thoughts on climate change, that go against current thinking, for which they will undoubtedly be pilloried. Of course challenging convention is the point of this book, and I'm sure the authors will welcome the debate. Less happy though, will be road-safety experts. 'Superfreakonomics' reveals that for the drinker, drink-driving is safer than drink-walking. (They do say that a taxi home is much better option still, but considering their findings on altruism, this seems a foolhardy admission.) The section on child safety seats will also cause great consternation, not least amongst child safety seat manufacturers.

Whilst casting doubt on the efficacy of child car seats, the book does ask a singular and important question. Since the primary users of rear seats are children, why aren't they designed with children in mind? Many of the topics covered in 'Superfreakonomics' are distilled down to simple and (with hindsight) obvious questions, and this is part of what makes it a pleasure to read. Another factor, is the lightness of tone, despite being a book about small details, it never becomes bogged down. I would though agree with another reviewer's comments, that the tone used can sometimes grate. It is very chummy and often self-congratulating.

'Superfreakonomics's' strength is also its biggest weakness. To avoid being, dull it only takes a cursory glance at its subject matter. One can't help but wonder what we aren't being told. The authors acknowledge that statistics are easy to fudge, but without doing masses of further reading, it is impossible to judge to what extent the figures have been massaged to back up their suppositions.

That said, the purpose of this book is to provoke debate and stop its readers from accepting everything at face value. I would suggest that this scepticism has to start with 'Superfreakonomics' itself - this is a book that will pose far more questions than it answers, but that is no bad thing. Like its predecessor, 'Superfreakonomics' is an entertaining and thought-provoking book, that deserves to be be read and discussed by as many people as possible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freaking Good, 25 Jun 2010
By 
Mr. Christopher Lancaster "clanca1234" - See all my reviews
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The first book was a worldwide success... and this builds on that success. Strange and bizarre views and facts on things that you'd never previously thought of, it made me see a lot of things in many new ways. The authors question everything from why more women don't become prostitutes (as it can pay very well at the high end) to why child car-seats are so ineffective (apparently), and if you can ignore the fact that it's quite obviously written from an American point of view, it's informative, amusing, and makes you ask, many times, 'why on earth does.....?' If more people questioned things in the same way that Levitt and Dunber, the authors, do, then the world might just be a better place.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as freakonomics, 8 April 2010
By 
Darren Henman (England) - See all my reviews
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An enjoyable book that covers some unusual subjects but is not as good as the original freakonomics book.

This one goes into a lot more detail on a single subject and as a result is not as wide-ranging, and does at times feel as if its trying to imply that the reader cannot draw their own conclusions from the initial information provided. The original Freakonomics book didnt go into as much details and left the reader able to draw their own conclusions from the outline facts rather than having everything spelled out for you.

I like the Freakonomic books but if you are new to these then the original is the better of the two in my view.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a spot on the first effort, 7 April 2010
By 
Wibblah (Westminster, London, England) - See all my reviews
Having now finished the book I recall the first few pages waxing on about how this was not just a sequel but very much something that stood by itself as an accomplishment in itself and was an improvement on the original. I can't disagree more.

If this was written by different author I am sure it would have been slated and quickly disposed of as an attempt to wring more out the same theme. However much I try to see it standing by itself it seems that the authors have sought out a very few valid illustrations to demonstrate their alternative take on economics. Whilst I have to agree "freakonomics" to use their term is extremely interesting, but no more interesting than the first time they introduced it and much less so with stretched examples. Those in the first book were far more entertaining.

Much of the problem I feel stems from the authors using too many prospective examples as opposed to real after the event analysis. They speak of how a novel approach may do this or that - even solve global warming with a cheap but effective solution. These are unproven methods and frankly can be found in journals and across the internet with little effort. What I found interesting in the first book and for only a handful of illustrations in the second was their ability to explain tangental views of problems in their entirety, specifically including what worked and demonstrating how a different path of exploration would have solved a problem faster or explained the statistics at hand. Instead there are far too many pie in the sky ideas.

I devoured the first book and despite this attempt would still pick up any future writings. I have to believe that this book was not just a search for more money but was painstakingly researched and written with best intentions. It just suffers from lack of enough interesting materiel and has been done with slightly different takes in other books enough times for a sequel to no longer be required.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light Entertainment. Enjoy the Read!, 21 Oct 2009
By 
Mr. William Oxley "oxenblocks" (England) - See all my reviews
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Read the book before you judge it. You may not agree with all the facts or conclusions, but it will make you think and debate the issues. The book is fascinating and 3 people reading it will give you three different opinions on it and about how good it is.

Should you read it - yes. Will you enjoy it - yes. Will you agree with everything - no.

Prostitution: The price of oral sex has fallen as it has become less taboo socially. Pimps value their prostitutes - which makes sense because I would expect a taxi driver to value his car because it is their means of making a living. And controversially prostitutes are more likely to have sex with a police officer than be arrested by one!

Global Warming: so controversial that people will down rate this book if it disagrees with their own accepted wisdom. The book contains hyperbole and overstatements that generates heated debate - (intended!) economic consequence of this is more press and more sales. But the authors do not deny global warming, rather they want to show how costly and difficult the current answers suggested by the big governments are, and they offer some potentially interesting solutions.

Read it in short bursts - it is not a Dan Brown novel!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Monkey Prostitution to Raising a Terrorist, 20 Oct 2009
By 
Boof (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I found this book interesting, frustrating, fascinating and infuriating (mostly at the same time). The duo that brought us Freakonomics with answers to why drug dealers live with their mothers and how the name that your parents gave you can determine which job you end up getting have now brought us Superfreakonomics.

To rogue economists or mad scientists this books meanderings may be make perfect sense, but to the likes of me I had a job trying to fathom how we got from one subject to another and then back to the original one at times. It almost seemed like a couple of kids that get so excited about their school project that they just want to tell you everything all about it all at once. That said, some of the themes and questions posed I found fascinating:

Why should suicide bombers buy life insurance?
Why is May the worst month for a baby in Uganda and Michigan, USA to be born?
How did 9/11 start the trickle down effect of the credit crunch?
Why could eating kangaroo meat help save the planet?
Why did 38 people watch Kitty Genovese be murdered and say nothing?

When I read Freakonomics a few years ago I gave it 2 stars. It attempted to tell us that teachers cheat, estate agents lie and black kids are usually given different names to white kids. You don't say! After having read this second offering I have decided to accept it for what it is - fun and light entertainment. Some of the findings are really fascinating and some are pretty banal and even confusing (the global warming section had my eyes glazing over).

However, to end on a positive note, the epilogue was genius! If you have ever wondered if monkey prostitution exists, wonder no more.....
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77 of 91 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy-read debunking for important people, 18 Oct 2009
By 
Nigel Seel (Wells, UK) - See all my reviews
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In Chapter 1 we read a prurient but entertaining account of Chicago prostitution. We learn the benefits of having a pimp, the relative cost of different sexual services and why the police go easy on the ladies (this last explanation is unconvincing). Then we move to the high-end `escort' market and consider the case study of "Allie".

Economic concepts: commodity good, price discrimination, inelastic demand, principal-agent problem. Plus a "how-to" guide on being a successful courtesan.

Chapter 2 is organised around the concepts of data mining. We learn about the financial transaction profiles of Islamic terrorists, the disutility of hospitals and the relative performance of doctors in dealing with different kinds of illness and injuries.

Economic concepts: data analysis.

Chapter 3 is about altruism. The core of this chapter deconstructs a 1964 murder in New York City which was apparently witnessed by many people, none of whom intervened or even reported it to the police. This leads to an appraisal of economics experiments which purportedly showed people to possess an intrinsic core of altruism (leading to Nobel prizes in economics for the researchers). Such an appealing conclusion is debunked as you might expect. The murder story is also debunked.

Economic concepts: limitations of behavioural economics.

Chapter 4 is about perverse incentives and specifically how powerful interest groups succeed in bringing about outcomes which disadvantage society overall. In the sights are doctors and auto makers. It is shown repeatedly that the hero who correctly points out that the emperor has no clothes is subsequently uniformly reviled by said interest groups

Chapter 5 is the part about global warming. Or is it cooling? Or is it something which just happens anyway? A long piece centred around Nathan Myhrvold's company Intellectual Ventures shows that assuming global warming is actually the problem fashionable opinion claims, there exist a number of technological solutions which for a modest amount of cash would deal with it. Alas, such ideas are anathema to Green lobbies.

In the epilogue, we learn that economic concepts of monetary value and exchange can also be taught (and internalised by) capuchin monkeys. I was not entirely clear why we were being told this apart from the monkey prostitution link back to Chapter 1.

I am torn two ways about this book. In its favour it makes intelligent points about a number of topical issues, it correctly undermines various shibboleths of political correctness, and it's compulsively readable - I was able to finish the 216 pages in a day.

On the other hand, the sycophantic writing style is gratingly folksy-humorous. Subtle flattery throughout confirms the authors and reader as equal partners, intellectually superior to the idiots the book so delights in debunking. The book is somehow less than the sum of its parts.

So if you are looking for an upmarket Reader's Digest type book which will confirm you are an important mover and shaker, that you are fashionably dismissive of political correctness to an acceptable degree, and that won't force you to engage with any difficult concepts, I guess this book is for you. Otherwise get it from the library or read the Sunday Times serialisation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak, waffly and very light on content, 10 Oct 2010
I have not read the original book but expected more from this one than I got. Most of the tag lines on the cover are not really well thought through or discussed. For example, it turns out that the reason for suicide bombers to buy life insurance is simply to confuse the authorities slightly about their intentions. That's it, but it is given huge prominence on the cover.

The majority of the book is simply the authors acting very humbly and talking about all of the amazing people they have met during the writing of the book. Very quickly it becomes boring and repetitive. "Wow, we met this really smart guy who is doing really amazing research and he is so clever because he has found out some stuff which will make an interesting and quirky lines for the cover of our book so we can sell loads of copies off the back of the first".

The actual interesting stuff could have been condensed into 1 chapter. This would have avoided the boring and shameless name dropping and sycophantic drivel which makes up the majority of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy sequel, 22 Oct 2009
By 
Ray Blake (Hemel Hempstead, UK) - See all my reviews
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Freakonomics was a fascinating look at social economics that became a phenomenon. From the introduction to this sequel, that seems to have taken the authors by surprise and it has taken tehm four years to gather new material for this sequel. The introduction is hilarious, and the pair are playing this book for laughs much more than in their earlier book.

The early section on prostitution in Chicago is actually rather shocking, and it would be easy for delicate souls to take considerable offence. In any event, it's not something I'd like my kids reading about, but the book clearly isn't aimed at kids.

Levitt and Dubner just don't know how to write in a boring way and this book is incredibly hard to put down. I recommend you don't even try. I'll be surprised to read a more entertaining work of non fiction this year.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really not that super, or that freaky, 17 Dec 2009
By 
sam (UK) - See all my reviews
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Really not that good. I have a Ph.D. and I work in a firm with a lot of excellent economic analysts, so perhaps my standards are rather high, but I found this book to be rather boring and weak.

The subjects aren't that interesting, I can't recall hardly any of them without getting the book out and they aren't that well analysed. The book starts moderately well with an analysis of how prostitutes get paid. Despite a rather smirking schoolboy tone making light of the situation the data is interesting. Incidentally, it reveals despite the poverty and desperation that leads women to sell their bodies for a few tens of dollars that they are still rational human beings; however, that is my insight and not theirs.

The rest of the book is trite and uninteresting and the chapter on climate change is monstrous; ridiculous parroted 2nd-hand ideas being pushed by a crackpot NGO from a country that can't even stop deforestation and extinction in its own national parks.
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SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
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