Super Freakonomics

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Title: Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
Authors: Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
Published: Oct. 20, 2009

I’ve been reading this book off and on for about a year. For one reason or another, I couldn’t fully immerse myself in it from start to finish despite loving the overall concept and listening to the Freakonomics podcast every week. With their new book coming out, Think Like a Freak, I thought it was finally time to deliver the finishing blow.

The unique thinking and exploration behind ideas and commonly-held beliefs is what makes Freakonomics such an interesting book. Levitt and Dubner do a fantastic job of breaking down the what’s and why’s behind topics child seat belts and prostitution. The conclusions are likely not what you would expect.

One topic I found more interesting than any other in the book was global warming. The authors spoke with Nathan Myhrvrold, a former Microsoft employee, and the team at Intellectual Ventures, a team of bioengineers that are on a mission to solve various world issues like AIDS and malaria in addition to global warming. Levitt and Dubner dive into the misconceptions surrounding global warming and carbon dioxide levels. Myhrvrold and his team explain their ideas to help solve the issue of global warming including long pipes to pump sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere (not as harmful as you would think) and boats designed to increase cloud formation over the ocean (not as expensive as you would think).

Perhaps more beneficial than the actual dives into the various topics is the underlying mental models that encourage readers to question what they think they know. I love books that encourage a different way of thinking, and Super Freakonomics does just that. If you’re a big fan of Gladwell or are interested in picking up a different kind of non-fiction that strays outside of the norm, I’d encourage you to give Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics a shot.

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