Thursday, January 14, 2010

Superfreakonomics and other Eco books

If you read "Freakonomics" a few years ago, then you definitely want to read "SuperFreakonomics" now. And if you didn't, you want to read them both.

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner will not tell you how to fix our economy or what caused the financial system to collapse (for the second issue, I recommend "Bailout Nation" by Barry Ritholtz). Instead, they take a look at real data that reveals interesting and important things about individual decisions and very "micro" issues.

If you've heard anything about the book, it may be that their chapter regarding climate change pissed off a lot of people. They take an extremely unconventional look at what is causing it and how to fix it. They talk, in fact, a lot about cheap and simple fixes to problems, starting with doctors' discovery that they spread less disease if they wash their hands.

There is also some very interesting info about prostitution. Did you know that 100 years ago prostitutes charged more for oral sex than the standard kind, but today they charge less? If you did know that, I don't want to know how you knew. But you will for sure be amused by the last chapter about monkeys and money. Oh, and don't forget to check out the Freakonomics blog, which usually has some interesting stuff, and can be reached from the link on the right.

This summer my friend Drew, a young fellow Banjo Billy employee with a keen interest in learning, asked me to recommend some books to give him a general understanding of The Dismal Science. If you are looking for this type of knowledge, then pick up Todd Bucholz "New Ideas from Dead Economists". It was written several years ago, and won't tell you what we should do now, but it is an excellent explanation of the history of Economic study and the various schools of thought involved.

So, there you have it. Some good books to curl up by the fire with for the winter.


Budd Bailey said...

I saw Levitt speak, and he was talking to a prostitute about a work. He told her that if she wasn't excited when the phone rang for a job, she wasn't charging enough.

Levitt added that the woman's guest lecture was the best-attended such address in the history of the University of Chicago.

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