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Very interesting material ...

September 26, 2012 - Lee Smith
The first “Freakonomics” book has been out for nearly a decade, while the second — “Super Freakonomics” — was published in 2009. In any case, I just recently finally got around to reading both, and found them interesting, even illuminating.

What these books deliver, overall, is “rogue” economics, from the mind of economist Steven D. Levitt, with the help of journalist Stephen J. Dubner. These guys take a fresh look at interesting snippets of American life. They offer compelling reasoning for their views.

These books are not without controversy. The first proposed that a major reason for the drop in crime in the mid-1990s was Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Why? Well, the children not born to mothers who instead chose abortion likely would have faced poverty, ignorance and other conditions that lead to lives of crime. “Freakonomics” doesn’t make a moral judgment about this. Rather, it makes a factual case.

Facts, not emotions, stand out in these books, which make clear: Swimming pools kill more kids than guns. Very few drug dealers get rich. Drunk walking is more dangerous than drunk driving. Chemotherapy is generally ineffective, as are many things parents think they need to do to be “good” parents. Finally, if global warming exists, it may be because humans have cleaned up the planet too well. If the atmosphere was a little more murky with particulate matter, it might reflect more sunlight back into space. Hence, the global cooling fears of the 1970s, when smog alerts were common.

I can’t cover all the subjects tackled in this space, but I can recommend the book to those who like to have their eyes opened. At the very least, these books will boost your critical thinking skills.


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