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Authors responding to incentives,
This review is from: Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (Paperback)
A micro-economist would say that when you have produced a successful brand like Freakonomics, it would be foolish not to produce a sequel. Even if you don't have sufficient original material. You could even reuse the same title to optimise your market leverage.
The first Freakonomics book presented some of Levitt's original micro-economic research in an entertaining way. This book feels like an attempt to cash in on the winning formula, but without the raw material. It's a short book, padded with loads of notes at the back, and excessive narrative everywhere else.
The chapter on geo-engineering was particularly laboured, but without the any interesting economic insight that you might have expected from reading the first book. In fact, the authors might have missed an economic trick here. After discussing a shoestring solution to what could be the greatest risk to humanity since the black death, they might have considered the cost of purchasing insurance against unintended consequences of this untestable solution, and the crowding-out effect of abandoning carbon reduction measures in favour of fighting greenhouse gasses with anti-greenhouse gasses. I suspect that this topic was included to provoke controversy.
Likewise, drink-walking versus drink-driving. No consideration that the average walker would drink more than the average driver; that the per-trip injury rate could be as important as the per-mile rate; or that drivers don't need to negotiate stairs, pavement furniture, etc.
It's a good read, with some interesting facts and analysis; and suspense in the narrative style. But it can be read in an afternoon and you might feel a bit cheated at the end.