Amanda Gates

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

I just finished SuperFreakonomics. I really enjoyed Freakonomics, the first book, but since I read it so long ago, I couldn’t remember why (a curse of a mega-reader; don’t you hate that?). Superfreak (as I’ll call it for short) reminded me why. I’m not a data head, but these two guys – an author and an economist – present data in the most interesting, most digestible way. And about the most interesting topics. Who knew I could read a chapter on prostitution and leave it thinking, ‘Hmmm, I can see why that profession works for some people. Good hours. Good wages. You’re your own boss.’ Or, as a mother, these two actually got me thinking about the necessity of car seats. CAR SEATS. Yes, they claim (with data!) that after age 2, regular seatbelts work just as well, if not better. Also: An entire chapter on why this whole global warming thing is kind of bunk, or if it’s not bunk, then about how we’re handling it in the completely wrong way.

When a book shocks you, makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you shake your head in disbelief, and it’s about real stuff… Well, I loved it. I was dog-earring practically every other page because either what they said was smart, awesome or hilarious and I wanted to go back and read it again.

Some interesting tidbits:

+ When families in India got cable TV, suddenly the women stood up for themselves and wouldn’t put up with as much crap from their husbands.

+ The feminist revolution has harshly impacted school children. As more and more women went to college and went into higher paying fields, they stopped becoming teachers. Teachers test scores went down, as did their salaries, which keep more women from becoming teachers. A vicious cycle.

+ Due to police resources being flooded into terrorism-fighting efforts after 9-11, perhaps less were watching Wall Street?

+ In most cases, chemotherapy is ineffective. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars per patient to extend life by as little as two months. Cancer patients make up 20 percent of Medicare cases but use up 40 percent of its drug budget.

+ Iran (I know, we don’t like Iran) pays people if they decide to donate a kidney; and they have no wait list for organs. Demand met. Here, we feel paying for organs (but not sperm or eggs) is immoral yet 50,000 people in the past 20 years have died while on the organ donation list. Does this show that money is a great motivator, more so than “the goodness of our hearts”? Um, yes.

+ Global warming scientists with the craziest, yet perhaps most workable, ideas, change their skew more toward what’s considered “acceptable.” If they didn’t, they wouldn’t get funding. That’s why we never hear about some of the crazy, yet cheap and workable, global warming fixes the authors list in this book. If these scientists said what they really wanted to try, they would never get the money to do it.

+ Solar panels, which are black, send 88 percent of their heat back into the atmosphere – contributing to global warming. Shut up.

+ Airplane contrails help prevent warming. When planes were grounded for just 3 days after 9-11, the ground temp increased by 2 degrees.

I don’t think the book is necessarily meant to change minds, but it does get you thinking. There’s no one answer. The popular answer is not always the right one. Things that are bad can sometimes turn out to be good for you. We should really listen to everyone’s ideas because you never know who’s got the next fix, for cheap. Real life scenarios spelled out simply and economically – it’s good.


Makes me thin kabout the term

Makes me thin kabout the term "working Mother" after your post ;) So, is the car seat industry making us think seat belts aren't safe? Hmmm...

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