Friday, October 22, 2010

Thought Provoking Book - Makes You Go "Hmm"

By Joyce Dierschke
Ok, a couple of disclaimers right up front: 1) SuperFreakonomics is a follow-up book to the authors' first book - Freakonomics. I didn't read Freakonomics, and as it turns out, you don't have to read the first one to get the second one - these aren't vampire novels; 2) More than likely, I would not have read Super Freakonomics if I hadn't been sent a copy to review. Why? The word "freakonomics" is way to close to the word "economics" which, for a creative person like me, is a topic much like a bottle of wine - puts me right out. But I will tell you this - freakonomics is MUCH more interesting than plain, old economics. Here's why:

In spite of the overly witty full title - Super Freakonomics Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance - the book is actually a fascinating tale of how economics plays into even the most bizarre areas of modern life. I guess that is what authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wanted to convey with that extravagant title - they should have just let the content speak for itself, but I know, its all about getting people to OPEN the book, I get it, really.

So anyway, back to Super Freakonomics. I really enjoyed this book! I did snooze a bit through Chapter 3, but for the most part, here are two guys with nothing to gain except royalties. They don't seem to have an overt political bend. They don't seem to want to convince me that there is only one right way to do things. They're not selling me anything I don't already own. But what they are doing is taking incongruent subjects, like Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo (ok, not TOTALLY incongruent), prostitutes and Santa Claus, real estate agents and pimps, and telling me that they do actually have something in common and here's how it effects my life.

You see, we tend not to draw the comparisons Steven and Stephen have drawn in Super Freakonomics. Most of us don't want to see these connections or can't because we only really look at the surface of things. The Steves have penetrated that surface and dove down deep. They've brought to light some things that make you go, "hmm." Such as the hand-washing rate of doctors - YES YOU HEARD ME. You'll have to read that chapter for yourself as its quite disturbing.

All in all, its a thought-provoking book that I highly recommend you read. If for nothing else than to give you a little perspective on the world around you, how we got here and where we can hope the future brings us. There's a lot of what I believe is truth, in this book. The chapter on Global Warming is really a good one. But so is the Monkey chapter.

Levitt and Dubner have clearly done a ton of research and another ton of analysis. Typical economists... But untypically, they've written this book in such a way to make it all relevant to what's happening in our world today. Thumbs up.


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