Nick's Reviews > SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
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's review
Mar 28, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

Interesting tidbits. Engagingly written. A fun, quick, interesting read.

It was fun to read about all of this data analysis, as I'm starting to do that myself at work.

More than 150 years ago, the French economist Frederic Bastiat wrote "The Candlemaker's Petition", said to represent the interests of ... "Generally Everything Connected with Lighting."

These industries, Bastiat complained, "are suffering from the ruinous competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price.

Who was this dastardly foreign rival?

"None other than the sun," wrote Bastiat. He begged the French government to pass a law forbidding all citizens to allow sunlight to enter their homes. (Yes, his petition was satire; in economists' circles, this is what passes for radical high jinks.)

p40: "So one you consider the value you get for each of these two agents, it seems clear that a pimp's services are considerably more valuable than a Realtor's."

p42: "It turns out that the demand for prostitutes in Washington Park skyrockets every year during this period." <-- summer, when folks are around for Fourth of July.

122: "Customarily, faculty members paid for coffee and other drinks by dropping money into an "honesty box". Each week, Bateson posted a new price list. The prices never changed, but the small photograph atop the list did. On odd weeks, there was a picture of flowers; on even weeks, a pair of human eyes. When the eyes were watching, Bateson's colleagues left nearly three times as much money in the honesty box."

The entire final chapter, on experiments with monkeys and money, was pretty great. I actually remember hearing about some of the results in my new streams not too long ago, if memory serves.

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