01 Jan / SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Four years ago (could say five, actually, as we just entered 2010 – already!), University of Chicago economics professor Steven Levitt and noted journalist Stephen Dubner debuted with Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. That first duo-effort quickly became a mega-bestseller and spawned the popular blog of the same name, housed on the New York Times site where Dubner was an editor and writer until 1999 (and still writes a monthly “Freakonomics” column with Levitt for NYT Magazine).
The recent follow-up, SuperFreakonomics, proved a near-instant bestseller … hubby and friends swore I didn’t need to have read the first to enjoy the latest, which definitely proved true. And as I often do things backwards, SuperFreak has absolutely inspired me to read the original Freak one of these days (soon). One small confessional concession, however … no one does BIG-LIFE-concepts-reduced-to-remarkably-digestible-and-downright-entertaining-tidbits better than Malcolm Gladwell, so while SuperFreak was undoubtedly worth the seven-plus hours of iPod commitment (Dubner even sounds a wee bit like Gladwell), I remain a Gladwell-devotee first.
So what makes SuperFreak super? Read even a few chapters and you’ll have some of the best (and impressive) additions to your cocktail conversation arsenal. Let me offer just a few prime examples … family reunions are a major boon for prostitutes in Chicago (stay clear of the windy city when planning your own family’s next get-together!), friends don’t let friends walk home drunk, the seat belt that comes already installed in your car works just as well as that complicated bulky thing you invested in to protect your precious small children, getting doctors to just wash their hands is one of the biggest challenges in hospitals (take note for when you might land in one next!), and if you teach monkeys the concept of money, they’ll be buying a lot more than treats … when it comes to prostitution, our nearest animal relatives show disturbing similarities to our (very) flawed human race!
Levitt and Dubner expertly combine careful research by countless experts and their convincingly relevant statistics to create a real-life-economics-for-dummies treatise perfect for today’s attention-deficit intellectuals looking for knowledgeable shortcuts. They’ve done all the work for you … now all you have to do is just read (or even easier, just listen).