Superfreakonomics is the follow-on to the original Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. Oddly, this one feels at once both less and more significant, but retains the style of the original.
Why less significant? Hard to say, actually. Some of the subject matter - much of which concerns prostitution - just felt less important and interesting to me. Yes, of course, it is a business and economics applies, but I didn't get any new insights as a result of this information.
On the other hand, some of the material - particularly that discussing global warming - felt more important than anything I recall in the first volume. The discussions about how one might approach fixing global warming were interesting and enlightening.
I consider myself something of a realist on the global warming front. It seems pretty clear to me that the planet is warming up, and that humanity is at least somewhat responsible, but the important thing is what we do about it, not the placing of blame or even the fingering of specific causes. And as usual with the media there is a lot of hype and cruft on both sides of the argument, making it difficult to separate truth and falsehood.
It seems likely that we'll have to do something about it in the end and it is interesting to read the proposed mitigations here. The authors appear to think getting to carbon free energy sources is a good idea as soon as we can make it happen - for any number of reasons - but that getting there will probably take longer than we want to wait for those energy sources, or for the carbon we've already emitted to be reduced back to normal levels. I tend to agree on all counts.
In one way this book is much better than the first. I didn't come away feeling that the authors were out to promote themselves, which they did a bit of the first time around.
In a nutshell this is a good but lightweight book. If it, like its predecessor, causes people to think about new things in economic terms, that's a good thing.
Even after a week I am still very, "hmmm I don't know" about this book. I just didn't like it as much as the first, but I still find the storytelling wonderful. It feels like the chapters would do better as a weekly column than they do as a book. Is this a blog-based book? I don't know, but that's how it reads. No apparent unifying theme and some general feeling at the end that we are screwed because we are no better than monkeys.
Interesting and thought-provoking, covering a variety of topics. While I didn't enjoy this 2nd entry as much as the original, this book was still very entertaining and enlightening. I especially enjoyed the chapter on global warming.
Claims it is better than his first book, but honestly thought it was just more of the same. That said, it was more of the same fascinating insight into how incentive drive decision-making in interesting ways. I did feel a few of the arguments/conclusions in this book were a little weak and were not well supported/argued, but it has been long enough since I read the first book that I'm not sure if the strength of the arguments were better or worse than before.
If you like this book and the first Freakonomics you may also like Social Economics books by Malcolm Gladwell ("Blink", "Tipping Point", "The Outliers") and other social commentary books like "Nickel & Dimed" and "Born to Shop".
This book is just as interesting as their first.
Like a dream, it all makes sense while you are reading; but when you try to explain it to someone else (if you are not an economist, I assume), it sounds like you are a little eccentric.
Levitt and Dubner make me wish I were an economist, but glad I'm a librarian.