Thursday, March 25, 2010
I finally finished Super Freakonomics. This book and its original - Freakonomics, contain a series of economic discussion questioning everyday behavior and social phenomena. The chapters seem somewhat disjointed and some topics are far less interesting than others, but they chose mainly controversial topics that have caused me to question my own perspectives on several issues.
The authors begin discussing the statistical chances of being injured while walking drunk. A section of the first chapter is devoted to the declining IQ of schoolteachers. Although I recoiled at this initially, the logic and data maintains. Decades ago, teaching was the primary choice of females entering the workforce, and only the brightest qualified for those positions. Today, bright women may choose careers in business, law, medicine, education, along with so many others. The pool of bright women is diluted and the quality of education has declined at the same rate. Sadly, the only chance of returning to education becoming a select field is to increase teacher salaries and make that career option competitive with other equally demanding career fields.
Another notable section discusses the car seat industry denying the release of information comparing car seats to regular seat belts for young children (not infants/toddlers). The authors have independent research conducted and find that much simpler solutions could be built into cars, but the car seat lobby will not let that happen anytime soon.
I will not dissect each chapter, but the authors continue with discussing prostitution rates, terrorism, global warming/cooling, organ donation, and problems in the medical community. Through all of these areas, the authors dispel myths while sharing feasible options and explanations of how so many of these problems can be solved.
Some of my favorite classes in college were behavioral research, sociology, and statistics. I absolutely love to look at data and reevaluate situations and opinions for fallacies and statistical error. I may do a separate post on Freakonomics after I reread it to refresh my memory, but I would not hesitate to recommend the pair. Both of these books strive to find and explain "things you always thought you knew but didn't," with a rich bibliography and reference section in each if and when you find the need to conduct some fact checking of your own.