Superfreakonomics Chapter 2

Following on from my chapter by chapter reviews of Superfreakonomics (here is One and here is Five), I have now read Chapter 2 — the Kindle version of course (as the Australian Government now advocates). Chapter 2 is describes why terrorists should take out life insurance. I won’t give the punchline there away as I would be letting go of the mystery but it isn’t much of the chapter.

This chapter is the closest yet to the original Freakonomics. It looks at various forensic investigations that let the data drive the outcomes. This includes terrorist profiling, cancer effectiveness and, of course, whether getting rid of estate taxes might delay deaths. That last one is of course based on my research with Andrew Leigh. So now that we can mark that paper with the “as seen in Superfreakonomics” tag, I have really warmed to this book.

That said, the chapter, while entertaining and interesting, suffers from a critique that some made of Parentonomics — that it is sometimes like a series of blog posts rather than some tight exposition. In that regard, it is hard to recall all of the take-a-ways in the same way you would had this been written at the hands of Tim Harford or Malcolm Gladwell. Nonetheless, I am pleased to have read at least one chapter that is more true to the original in balance and sense.

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