Category Archives: podcasts
by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
[#37 in my 52 book challenge]
Here we go. This one was non-fiction AND a grown-up book, aren’t you proud?It’s been on my list for a long time, since I loved the original Freakonomics so much. I listened to all eight hours on audio from the public library and it made great listen for the car because it was both engaging and educational.
If you read the cover, you can see what the main chapters of the book are about. Dubner and Levitt explain life through economics, or the study of how people respond to incentives. Most of the sections start by addressing the big topic, looking at various asides and related studies, and then returning to prove something interesting/contradictory about the original topic. Sometimes it felt like the “plot” was meandering a bit, but it works. Just like the original.
Reading a book such as this one certainly gives a person a myriad of topics to discuss at parties, many of which will shock and infuriate. I don’t know that I would tell such anecdotes to strangers because they might require me to back up my knowledge with a bit more than, “Well, I read it in Superfreakonomics, so it must be true,” but they would be interesting points to debate with friends. I know these statistics and assumptions must be taken with a grain of salt. Still, I find the economic way of thinking fascinating. For example, I was surprised, and horrified, to learn that many doctors don’t wash their hands as often as they should…and why. I was surprised by the safety statistics of child car seats. I was surprised to learn that prostitutes actually make more money with pimps than without (and how Realtors compare).
What didn’t surprise me was all that Levitt and Dubner had to say on environmentalism. I am a major skeptic when it comes to the whole green movement and global warming (not a non-believer! Just a skeptic!) and I was thrilled to see the economists’ take on it. I was especially thrilled to learn that cutting down on red meat one day a week does more to reduce greenhouse gases than eating locally — and that eating locally is actually more damaging to the environment than people believe (both of which I’d assumed on my own, which is why I’ve cut down on meat in general). Again, I’m taking all of that with a grain of salt. But fascinating nonetheless.
Reading this as an audiobook was a true joy because it was read by the author, Stephen Dubner. I enjoy Dubner’s Freakonomics Radio podcast/NPR show (and I enjoy Levitt even more than Dubner!), and listening to this book for 8 hours felt like an extension of the podcast. It probably should be the other way around, but I just love that podcast so much. You should definitely check it out, even if you don’t plan on reading through the whole book.