It’s good to be a ‘SuperFreak’ — even if you don’t agree
In the 2009 book, “SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance,” Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner bring back their cowboy-style economics and creative reasoning.
The Steves begin with saying they realize their first book, the 2005 bestseller “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” didn’t really cover everything it promised, but they have since realized that one concept held true: We all work for a reward. By examining global issues economically the Steves have come up with new explanations.
For example, they discuss the preference for sons in India and the hardships of Indian women, along with the automobiles and the issue of horse manure piles in large cities (an early example of global warming).
The authors also discuss the issue of altruism and use examples from the murder of Kitty Genovese, how television affects crime rates and experimental games such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
But most interesting was the chapter about unintended consequences and simple fixes.
They explained the work of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, who first advocated for doctors to wash their hands, and how that became a lifesaver in hospitals across the world.
There also is the issue of seatbelts and child seats and the authors even discuss how creating smaller, lower child seat belts that come standard in vehicles could be more impactful than some car seats.
Many parents might disagree, but the authors claim that our desire for peace of mind outweighs the desire to create a more standardized model. It also keeps the car seat companies in business, too.
As a native Floridian, I was fascinated by the plans to reduce hurricanes and those who are working on prototypes for this and other meteorological occurrences.
But the best questions the authors answer are questions to which you may not have even known you wanted answers: What’s more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it’s so ineffective? What’s the best way to catch a terrorist?
It’s easy to see how Levitt and Dubner have New York Times bestsellers with the “Freakonomics” books. It’s inspiring to have two people challenge the way we look at the world and “truths” we hold so dear. Critical thinking often is lacking in much of today’s communications, so it’s inspiring to have a book “exercise” your mind.
I may not agree with everything Levitt and Dubner say, but I’m proud to say I’m a “SuperFreak.”