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

Review: “SuperFreakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Thumbs up for SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Science/nature.

Okay, okay, pop statistics books are a weakness of mine. I admit it. But Freakonomics was just so dang much fun. And so was this one. Though it should all be taken with a grain of salt – it is statistics, right? And as Levitt and Dubner point out, you can’t always trust ’em. Which does not stop them from writing books, or me from reading them.

“But the scientific community is also at fault. The current generation of climate-prediction models are, as Lowell Wood puts it, ‘enormously crude.’ Wood is a heavyset and spectacularly talkative astrophysicist in his sixties who calls to mind a sane Ignatius P. Reilly. Long ago, Wood was Myhrvold’s academic mentor. (Wood himself was a protégé of the physicist Edward Teller.) Myhrvold thinks Wood is one the smartest men in the universe. Off the top of his head, Wood seems to know quite a bit about practically anything: the melt rate of the Greenland ice core (80 cubic kilometers per year); the percentage of unsanctioned Chinese power plants that went online in the previous year (about 20 percent); the number of times that metastatic cancer cells travel through the bloodstream before they land (‘as many as a million’).”


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