SuperFreakonomics in the News

There’s a price war going on among booksellers — WalMart is offering a handful of big new books for just $10, which forced Amazon to counter — but unfortunately, SuperFreakonomics is not one of them. On Amazon, it costs $16.19. Is it worth it?

To help you decide, here’s a roundup of some early notices for the book:

  • TIME magazine: “It’s very good — jauntier and more assured than their first.
  • Telegraph: “As one of the most successful writing partnerships in publishing, they make an entirely complementary and logical team in the same way that Jack Spratt and his wife did at the dinner table.”
  • Smart Money: “SuperFreakonomics provides a refreshingly logical look at some divisive political problems, with studies that encourage the reader to look beyond the surface and to question common wisdom.”
  • EconLog: “If everyone read SuperFreakonomics and believed it, the world would change for the better.”
  • Wallet Pop: “It’s a book that will get you thinking after, if not before, any decision you make based on an incentive.”

And in The Week, Dubner and Levitt offer a list of six books they loved. Several have already been mentioned on this blog, and then there’s Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air, by David J.C. MacKay. Here’s what they write:

Anyone who wants to understand global warming — and not everyone does, since they’ve got their platitudes to defend — needs to find a ­physicist to cut through the fog. MacKay might be your man. His clarifying mantra: “Numbers, not adjectives.” Go ahead and unplug your phone charger every night if you must, he writes, but that’s the equivalent to “bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon.”


Tristan

I've already got it on my Wishlist on Amazon, $16.19 is certainly worth it, especially if I pick up another book or two at the same time and get free shipping.

Althugh, I did just see this critique of the Global Cooling section, which seems well thought out: http://climateprogress.org/2009/10/12/superfreakonomics-errors-levitt-caldeira-myhrvold/

Is there any plan to respond?

Eric

So... what about ClimateProgress' review? And Krugman's endorsement of it?

anon reader

Well, the price wars are everywhere in Internet (like iPhone software in apple store) now.

As Economists, and as book writers, what do you think?
Does it damages you to go so low?

Ps: Wait just till Google starts selling e-books, then we will see the real war!

Carey

I think it is fair, since this blog is functioning at the moment as an ad for the authors' new book, to comment on whether they should be rewarded by having blog readers buy it.

My take on the authors' (self-assigned) brief is to show how hard-nosed data-driven analysis can overturn preconceptions about how the world works.

If the authors fulfill this expectation on the part of the reader, then they have earned the price of the book. If not, then they haven't and shouldn't be rewarded by having it purchased (this is how economic incentives should help keep authors honest).

The advance word is not looking good though. Contrarianism is all well and good - as long as you make a solid case. The fairly detailed summary of what the book contains on this issue by the Union of Concerned Scientists looks like a retread of well-worn and thoroughly discredited climate change denialism.

This puts the faithful reader in a bit of bind. I can't in good faith reward the authors for inferior work, but I'll have to wait awhile before I can snag the book from the library to confirm the assessment made by others. On the plus side, if I am persuaded that my doubts are incorrect, I will then buy the book anyway.

Incidentally - I gave several copies of the first book as gifts. I obviously won't do that again if the book does not stand up to unsentimental critique.

Read more...

Robin

I just pre-ordered today. Did you guys see you were mentioned unfavorably in Paul Krugman's blog this morning?

Dr. Manak

Tell me again how solar cells increase global warming because they absorb the light that hits them and reradiates it as heat? - this just in from superfreakanomics - did you forget basic physics and biology? - plants absorb most light that hits them (with the exception of green) and re-radiate it as heat too and they cover most of the land on the earth? so I guess by that reasoning plants cause global warming too - now that is counterintuitive... back to school you guys. Look up the word albiedo - the earth is 70% covered by water too - the earth in general absorbs a very large fraction of the light incident upon it (70%) - so adding some solar panels isn't going to change anything - they are just mimicing what plant do anyway...

Bjorn

I bought my copy for 23 dollars including shipping. Swedes value your books more than the average american!

Kevin MN

As a fan of the first book, I must say I'm pretty disappointed that the new book is more concerned about making partisan political points than actually looking at the facts about Global Warming. Its hard enough to justify economics as a science to my hard science colleagues and work like this hurts the profession's reputation.

I really hope we can get some sort of response from the authors because it really makes no sense how they think they can ignore basic scientific facts without their readers realizing it.

zach neal

'I bought my copy for 23 dollars including shipping. Swedes value your books more than the average american!'

You value it about $73 more than this American.

Peggy

Of course, the most economical way is to check a copy out form your local library. I'm showing multiple copies either already in the system or in process here in Maine.

jason walters

its only $14.50 @ Wal-Marts website

DrS

I am now 100% sure that the Climate Change chapter in this book is going to be reacted to more vehemently and with more knee-jerk anger than the abortion chapter in the first Freakonomics.

charles

carey - "Climate chane denier." Don't use stuff like this it's lazy. Get more creative. In science we call them skeptics and they often turn out to be correct.

Harrkar

I am thinking of not buying this.. after reading #2 Eric.

Isnt that distracting? talking about price..than answering useful questions? perhaps, if you are right, that would boost the sales, not these tricks.

Larry

As usual, we Canadians get the short end of the stick and must pay over $23 for the book on Amazon.ca's site.

Our dollar is almost on par with the U.S. dollar too!

A Fan

Does the law of diminshing marginal returns apply to touting your book on the blog?

Curious

Building off of Tristan and Eric's comments, I am curious in general on how you will respond to the (most likely quite harsh) criticism of the global warming chapter (interested to see what has caused so much noise already). It has been highly unpopular and has given an unintellectual perception to those who have done it before. Are you concerned? In highly political problems such as these, everyone seems to have "the facts" on their side - so it does not seem like much protection.

luke

the link above has convinced me not to buy this book. i think you owe it to your fans to respond.

David

I've pre-ordered at a bargain price and looking forward to reading it, even if there's the possibility that the climate change section is flawed. Add another name to the chorus of people interested to hear a response on this. Regardless, I'm sure the rest of the book will be good and I'll enjoy every minute of it.

Brad Johnson

I wonder why my previous comments asking questions about the global "cooling" chapter have not been published. What is the economic benefit to hiding critical questions of your work?