Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: SUPERFREAKONOMICS by Levitt & Dubner

Once again, I revisited the twisted world of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.  In many ways, Superfreakonomics is more of the same…the application of economic models to data in order to solve common questions.  One of the more interesting differences in this installment is the emphasis on cheap and simple solutions to some of life’s complex problems.  A few of the main topics discussed were simple solutions for global warming, the effect television has on the way women in rural India are treated, how to spot a terrorist by examining their financial records, etc. 

My favorite part of this book were the discussions on simple and cheap solutions to problems.  For example, for only a fraction of what we pay out in hurricane damage each year, a water circulation device could be created and used to cool the surface temperature on the oceans, decreasing the intensity of hurricanes.  This solution would continue to allow topical storms and low grade hurricanes to bring the much needed moisture to maintain the ecology of these affected areas of the world, yet it would prevent the storms from reaching the level four and five intensities which bring mass destruction or property and lives.  The science behind this device is so logical and easy that even I understood it!  So why don’t these cheap & simple solutions get put into action?  Because they are cheap and simple.  There isn’t enough money to be made off of them. 

Just like Freakonomics, the writing was fast-paced.  The topics seemed to bounce around a lot, but they always connected back the original thread.  This writing style keeps the reader from getting too bogged down in the data and allows them to see the big-picture.  As some of you may know, I am in grad school now for Business, so I have a broad base knowledge of finance and economics prior to reading these books.  The beauty of them though is that any person on the street could pick them up and not only follow the ideas, but enjoy what they read.  I’m so happy to see writers making economics accessible to the masses, because it really can be incredibly interesting. 

Overall, I give Superfreakonomics

Innovative Ideas – 5 bookmarks
Accessibility – 4 bookmarks


  1. Wow, impressive. As a former Econ major it's good that someone can make that stuff sound interesting :-D

  2. If you haven't read these books yet, I recommend them. I think you would like them with your background.