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SuperFreakonomics (Book Review of the Week-ish)

Let me get right to the point. I loved Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. It’s a fun, quick, yet thought-provoking read, that questions environmental issues, prostitution (and other criminal activity), organ transplants, altruism and a host of other issues, all in support of its thesis:

“People respond to incentives, although not necessarily in ways that are predictable or manifest.”

While critics such as WaPo’s Ezra Klein contest specific data within the book, those folks seem to miss the point. Much like Michael Lewis’ Moneyball or Douglas Hubbard’s How to Measure Anything, Levitt and Dubner’s real point is that we need to question both what we question and how we ask, as opposed to assuming expertise or conventional wisdom have all the answers. (In fairness to Klein, his refusal to take Levitt and Dubner at face value mirrors their very point, which is to say you’ve got to look into anyone’s numbers to see what they really mean).

Read SuperFreakonomics. You don’t have to agree with every point its authors make – in fact, you’d be wise to question their data. But, what makes the book great is that, in a world of celebrities and talking heads, it represents a model of critical thinking any business person would do well to emulate.

And if you did read SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, tell us what you thought about it in the comments below.

Full disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and am compensated for sales on Amazon originating via this blog. I occasionally receive review copies of books; however, I purchased SuperFreakonomics to write this review.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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