We Need Your Questions for the Paperback Edition of SuperFreakonomics

Sometime in the late spring, our second book, SuperFreakonomics, will be published in paperback. As with Freakonomics, we’re going to add some bonus matter to the back of this edition. And, as with Freakonomics, one thing we’ll include is a Q&A in which we answer questions from readers. And where do these questions come from? You! So ask away in the comments section; here’s your chance to be a published (albeit unpaid) author. Posted below is the Table of Contents from SuperFreak, but feel free to ask questions unrelated to the content as well. Thanks in advance.

An Explanatory Note …………………………………………………….. xiii
In which we admit to lying in our previous book.

Introduction: Putting the Freak in Economics …………………….. 1
In which the global financial meltdown is entirely ignored in favor of more engaging topics.

The perils of walking drunk . . . The unlikely savior of Indian women . . . Drowning in horse manure . . . What is “freakonomics,” anyway? . . . Toothless sharks and bloodthirsty elephants . . . Things you always thought you knew but didn’t.

Chapter 1
How Is a Street Prostitute Like a Department-Store Santa? ….. 19
In which we explore the various costs of being a woman.

Meet LaSheena, a part- time prostitute . . . One million dead “witches” . . . The many ways in which females are punished for being born female . . . Even Radcliffe women pay the price . . . Title IX creates jobs for women; men take them . . . 1 of every 50 women a prostitute . . . The booming sex trade in old- time Chicago . . . A survey like no other . . . The erosion of prostitute pay . . . Why did oral sex get so cheap? . . . Pimps versus Realtors . . . Why cops love prostitutes . . . Where did all the schoolteachers go? . . . What really accounts for the male- female wage gap? . . . Do men love money the way women love kids? . . . Can a sex change boost your salary? . . . Meet Allie, the happy prostitute; why aren’t there more women like her?

Chapter 2
Why Should Suicide Bombers Buy Life Insurance? …………………57
In which we discuss compelling aspects of birth and death, though primarily death.

The worst month to have a baby . . . The natal roulette affects horses too . . . Why Albert Aab will outshine Albert Zyzmor . . . The birthdate bulge . . . Where does talent come from? . . . Some families produce baseball players; others produce terrorists . . . Why terrorism is so cheap and easy . . . The trickle- down effects of September 11 . . . The man who fixes hospitals . . . Why the newest ERs are already obsolete . . . How can you tell a good doctor from a bad one? . . . “Bitten by a client at work” . . . Why you want your ER doc to be a woman . . . A variety of ways to postpone death . . . Why is chemotherapy so widely used when it so rarely works? . . . “We’re still getting our butts kicked by cancer” . . . War: not as dangerous as you think? . . . How to catch a terrorist.

Chapter 3
Unbelievable Stories About Apathy and Altruism …………………97
In which people are revealed to be less good than previously thought, but also less bad.

Why did 38 people watch Kitty Genovese be murdered? . . . With neighbors like these . . . What caused the 1960s crime explosion? . . . How the ACLU encourages crime . . . Leave It to Beaver: not as innocent as you think . . . The roots of altruism, pure and impure . . . Who visits retirement homes? . . . Natural disasters and slow news days . . . Economists make like Galileo and hit the lab . . . The brilliant simplicity of the Dictator game . . . People are so generous! . . . Thank goodness for “donorcycles” . . . The great Iranian kidney experiment . . . From driving a truck to the ivory tower . . . Why don’t real people behave like people in the lab? . . . The dirty rotten truth about altruism . . . Scarecrows work on people too . . . Kitty Genovese revisited.

Chapter 4
The Fix Is in – and It’s Cheap and Simple ……………………………. 133
In which big, seemingly intractable problems are solved in surprising ways.

The dangers of childbirth . . . Ignatz Semmelweis to the rescue . . . How the Endangered Species Act endangered species . . . Creative ways to keep from paying for your trash . . . Forceps hoarding . . . The famine that wasn’t . . . Three hundred thousand dead whales . . . The mysteries of polio . . . What really prevented your heart attack? . . . The killer car . . . The strange story of Robert McNamara . . . Let’s drop some skulls down the stairwell! . . . Hurray for seat belts . . . What’s wrong with riding shotgun? . . . How much good do car seats do? . . . Crash-test dummies tell no lies . . . Why hurricanes kill, and what can be done about it.

Chapter 5
What Do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo Have in Common? …… 165
In which we take a cool, hard look at global warming.

Let’s melt the ice cap! . . . What’s worse: car exhaust or cow farts? . . . If you love the earth, eat more kangaroo . . . It all comes down to negative externalities . . . The Club versus LoJack . . . Mount Pinatubo teaches a lesson . . . The obscenely smart, somewhat twisted gentlemen of Intellectual Ventures . . . Assassinating mosquitoes . . . “Sir, I am every kind of scientist!” . . . An inconvenient truthiness . . . What climate models miss . . . Is carbon dioxide the wrong villain? . . . “Big-ass volcanoes” and climate change . . . How to cool the earth . . . The “garden hose to the sky” . . . Reasons to hate geoengineering . . . Jumping the repugnance barrier . . . “Soggy mirrors” and the puffy-cloud solution . . . Why behavior change is so hard . . . Dirty hands and deadly doctors . . . Foreskins are falling.

Monkeys Are People Too…………………………………………………..211
In which it is revealed that- aw, hell, you have to read it to believe it.


In dealing with the global warming you mentioned the idea of of pumping man-made NO2 into the atmosphere. Have Mhyrvold (Ch. 5) and his colleagues come up with other ideas since the original publication that are less reactive to the tree-hugging crowd?


To the authors: What motivates you to conduct this kind of work? Is it intrinsic or extrinsic?

Tom Maguire

Are there any technical concepts involved with Economics or Statistical Analysis (Benford's Law, the flawed math behind The Great Recession) that you've been tempted to include, like maybe in a chapter for advanced readers.


"Sometime in the late spring, our second book, SuperFreakonomics, will be published in paperback."

Have I inadvertently travelled back in time? I already own a paperback copy of SuperFreakonomics...


With the recent publication of Amy Chua's book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" has come a flurry of articles comparing Western parenting styles to those of more traditional Chinese mothers. How can the techniques in SuperFreakonomics be used (or how have they been used) to bring a more scientific understanding to this debate?


How do you effectively communicate something which the reader, for political, social, or traditional reasons, might not want to believe it?

Agustin Bolaños

Hi, i would like to know if exist some model that includes freak things into de national acount.
Thanks and sorry for my english, i'm from Argentina.


Recently two articles have called into question the veracity of research studies in general in the Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker.

Due to overt and unconscious bias, and the bias towards publishing positive over negative results we are left with many studies with dubious claims that are difficult to replicate. Is it possible that any of the research discussed in SuperFreakonomics is not reproducible? When reading research what process do you go through before incorporating them into your beliefs about the world?


Have you followed up at all with the car seat investigation? The NTSB seems to be including this data now in the traffic fatalities data (kids over 2 with and without a car seat.) It seems to me that the problem is entirely due to a two-point harness (the LATCH or seatbelt) that holds the car seat to the car, when we pretend it is a five-point harness because of the straps and buckles in the actual car seat. At best we have three tie-down points but you are right, the issue remains that we are probably engineering the wrong thing. Has anyone looked into making a different type of seat that bucks the traditional anchoring?

Ian Kemmish

I can see that you might _want_ to get some questions, but your use of the word "need" seems excessively hyperbolic even for this column.

Is it altogether appropriate for those who consider themselves scientists, even soft scientists, to express themselves in this way? Might it not be considered to bring economics into disrepute?

Frank P

Do sales of digital music (or books and movies) from deceased artists spike in the days after their death? And if so, why?
All I can think of is "oh yeah, I liked that guy", a reminded awareness and renewed interest of that particular artist.


Sometime in the late spring, our second book, SuperFreakonomics, will be published in paperback."

Have I inadvertently travelled back in time? I already own a paperback copy of SuperFreakonomics

Same here , what is going on?

Alexandre C. Serpa

Question 1: What is the explanation for lucid modern women, which are fighting for their rights in the working environment (and gladly winning), still being Catholic? (Catholic church clearly states that women are second class human beings, blame them for the first - and many other - errors in "man's" history, treat them as servants for men etc).


Would be nice to find out how well the career success (in terms of salary) is correlated with the number of times one changes jobs

Carl Natale

In the Q&A section of the Freakonomics paperback, you explained why you couldn't use statistical analysis to prove if athletes use performance enhancing drugs.

Fair enough. But when athletes do admit to using PEDs, they tend to say that the PEDs didn't improve performance but helped them heal.

Can you test that assertion with statistical analysis?

Alexandre C. Serpa

Question 2: Why mankind strives on making monogamy a "natural"/ mandatory thing for modern societies? There is no mammal (other than man) that is monogamist. It is obvious that even when men (and women) marry, the desire to have other relationships is there (otherwise divorces and extra-marital cases would be exception and not the norm, as they currently are)

Eric M. Jones

As I previously asked (but you ignored because of the giant conspiracy involving the military-industrial conspiracy with aliens....):

Are there really " Puppet Masters? I.e. Is some group behind everything and we just see what they allow us to see and do, and vote for...?

No, I'm not paranoid, just worried. How else could George Bush have become President, for example?


Re: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/business/global/10manga.html?hp

How does the availability of pornography with young girls changes the number of violence and rape to young girls?


not politically correct, but that hasn't ever really stopped you guys, eh?

my buddy and i saw a map the other day that had a graphical representation of states with the highest black populations. If you follow college football, you would quickly notice that the states with the highest black populace were in SEC states. the SEC is widely known as the most dominant college football conference in the country.

we wondered if there is a correlation between SEC football dominance and the states where slaves first landed in the states.

love the books. hope i didn't just piss anyone off.


Hi all. My questions are about geoengineering:

1. How could it be cheaper if the process requires constant monitoring from the ground and from space?

2. Given the potential negative consequences of geoengineering such as increased respiratory disease and severe droughts (Geophysical Research Letters, 2007), would you support the process were it to be approved this year?