Superfreakonomics, 2009

Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

I had loved the former, Freakonomics. Economics was ignored subject for me until then. After reading Freakonomics, I acquired a different perspective to look at things. In addition to being thoroughly enjoyable, the book was interesting for developing my liking for economics. Years later as I am doing masters, economics is the only subject that fascinates me from the entire curriculum. I must thank the original for that.

Superfreakonomics continues where the former left off. Freakonomics found connections where seemingly none existed. Their twisted analysis of causality was really fun to follow. Freakonomics continues on that path. They seem to find relations between two disconnected things and that is enjoyable to read. So if you had liked the first one, then chances are you’ll like this too.

However, the first one was way more structured that this one. The chapters were distinct and had a lot of data going on in them. Super Freakonomics mixes the streams in between and overall presentation lacks the finesse the first one had. The book has a central theme. From the point of view of economics, they try to show how preventive actions are far cheaper than the corrective ones and that simpler solutions are available if we look properly. With that approach, they also touch the subject of global warming. It leads to some serious controversy.

Global warming is a sensitive topic and a lot of media channels always has that on its burner. Everyone is perpetually interested in the climate change and the fate of the Earth. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner devote a fairly big chunk of the book to discuss global warming. They propose ways to counter the effects of global warming. For that, they take the support of many theories like sulphur dioxide spray into the stratosphere. At an initial reading, the ideas seem very lucrative. I was fairly swayed by the ideas. Upon a simple Google search, I came to know that they have attracted heavy criticism from climate change researchers for the careless claims with factually incorrect data.

Does that mean this book is not recommended? Not really. This is essentially a pulp economics book. It is not a thesis in any of the subject it touches upon. It is a mainstream non-fiction work. They should have been more diligent in the ideas they have advocated but still, the book remains readable with these caveats.

You may think that factually incorrect content makes an economics book worthless and you’d be right. However, the content apart from global warming has not faced any controversies. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about why suicide bombers should consider buying life insurance.

Their writing style is very fluent. It is often witty and flowing. I liked the casual approach which they maintained throughout the book.

Overall, I think the book is similar to the first one. But unfortunately, not as good as the first one. I’d rather advise reading the first one once again. :)

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