Superfreakonomics – soooper ?

OK, so the title is cheesy and that is intentional. At-least caught your eye didn’t it. So, what is it about? The rogue economists with a penchant for the uncanny, for making connections that will make afternoon soap opera fan’s head swirl, come up with conclusions which will make policy papers look like class doodles and give enough food for thought to feed a room full of intellectual types for a while, are back!

And if you still did not understand what I am talking about, it is the next version of Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics. And with a subtext which says why suicide bombers should buy life insurance, I am sure this book is going to pique anyone’s interest. So, does this book live up to the sequel hype?

I think the book is a very interesting read, but, it is not as good as the original. There are flashes of amazing insight in some chapters, but overall, the book didn’t feel like it is better than the version 1. There are 5 chapters

  1. How is a street prostitute like a department store Santa
  2. Why should suicide bombers buy life insurance
  3. Unbelievable stories about apathy and altruism
  4. The fix is in – and it is cheap and simple
  5. What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common

I thought the chapters 3 and 5 did not have as much to offer as the rest (no pun intended). The first chapter, manages to deal with an important issue rather candidly, in the true freakonomist style. It is definitely worth reading the economic analysis of the operations of street prostitutes and their strategies. So, the start of the book is in true freaky style.

Chapter 2 is about suicide bombers and insurance, and this is more of the narrative of an investigation rather than the conclusions. They do mention the conclusion, but this chapter feels more like an episode of Numb3rs. It does manage to hold your interest. I did not understand the raison d’ĂȘtre of the third chapter. It seems like a failed attempt to deal with behavioral economics and trying to come up with conclusions. Chapter 4 is interesting again, where the authors try to make the case for simple solutions for profound problems. Chapter 5, I thought was pointless. It seemed more like a canvassing article for geo-engineering more than the economic analysis for it. May be the authors’ intent was not that, but I felt the chapter felt like it at the end

So, would I suggest this book. Hmm, yes and no. It is interesting in places but not as much as the first version. A 6 out of 10.