Book of the week: Superfreakonomics
All through Superfreakonomics, you can’t miss the authors’ yearning for controversy. More than the controversial conclusions, it is the way of seeing things around us that makes Superfreakonomics so engaging.books Updated: Oct 24, 2009 12:57 IST
All through Superfreakonomics, you can’t miss the authors’ yearning for controversy. Take the risk of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and Aids in India, and one of the conclusions: Indian men’s penises are small. Or that it was cable TV that empowered rural women in India — households with cable TV being more likely to send their girls to school. Such households are also likely to have women not tolerating domestic abuse.
Things around us are simplified through the lens of economics. How, for instance, the costs of terrorism multiply. “The probability that an average American will die in a given year from a terrorist attack is roughly 1 in 5 million,” they write. “He is 575 times more likely to commit suicide.”
More than the controversial conclusions, it is the way of seeing things around us that makes Superfreakonomics so engaging. To seek potential terrorists, the book shows that they are disproportionately likely to own a mobile phone, be a student, rent rather than own a home, and unlikely to have a savings account, but likely to withdraw money from an ATM on Friday afternoons and buy life insurance. Do read this book — even if you don’t take all its conclusions seriously.