Super Freakonomics by Steven B Levitt and Stephen J Dubner


This is billed as the “explosive” follow-up to Freakonomics,” and is subtitled: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance.

Apparently the world can’t get enough of this team who keep questioning our assumptions about how the world works, and how we should be evaluating the statistics the media bombards us with.

They open with something that’s not intuitively obvious — according to the statistics (and if you accept their assumption that people walk as much drunk as they drive), it’s far safer for the drunk person to drive drunk than to walk drunk.

It’s far safer for other drivers for drunks to walk, but for the drunk, it’s safer to drive — so they don’t lie down in the middle of the street and pass out, fall in front of a car, cross a street without looking, or the other dangerous things drunk pedestrians do. They didn’t even include the real possibility (in some neighborhoods) of being robbed.

It ends with descriptions of how a research scientist taught monkeys to value coins — they even discovered prostitution.

Along the way, they take a close look at the economics of (human) prostitute, comparing what it was many years ago to today.

Even more potentially controversial is the chapter on global warming, which highlights a company headed by a former Microsoft employee who is leading other geniuses to find cost-effective ways to make money by solving the world’s problems.

These scientists seem to generally believe the world is gradually warming, but are well-aware that the current models are not sophisticated enough, putting them outside the rabid environmental camp.

The authors touch on how the current environmental movement seems much like a religion that is attempting to limit carbon dioxide not just as a method to reduce global warming, but to deliberately destroy civilization as we know of. They allude to this, and seem aware of the threat, but don’t go deeply into the motivations of the fanatical environmentalists or explore what are their true goals.

Rather they take “reducing global warming” as the goal, and then let the scientists discuss how it could be accomplished at little cost.

As someone who doesn’t pretend to be a climate scientist, I’m an agnostic on global warming.

But as someone who sees the proposed “solutions” for the alleged threat of global warming as a threat to humanity’s freedom and economic development, I wish they’d gone further in exposing the radical environmentalists who are using climate change as a means, not an end.

They even re-open the infamous Kitty Genovese case, though apparently have not read Robert Cialdini’s explanation that the neighbors who did witness the attack or her murder believed someone else had called the police. They discovered that someone did call the police, who apparently were slow to react, since nobody knew how seriously she was wounded.

I personally enjoy this form of using facts to debunk myths. Lord knows we need a lot more facts and context and a lot fewer media lies and distortions.






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