SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Stephen J. Dubner & Steven D. Levitt
Follow up to Freakonomics… and here go my notes:
– Drunk walker is 8 times likely to be killed than drunk driver.
– India is the worst place to be born especially for women. Bride burnings. Condoms too big so more STDs and abortions. Solution was getting TV to rural areas so women got to see and that they shouldn’t be treated like that (bride burnings, beatings, etc). Or men just cared to watch cricket.
– Horse transport was a major issue… air, sound pollution. Health issues. Cars were solution… Or were they?
– Shark attack headlines make it sound scary but elephants kill 200 per year. You just don’t get headlines and sharks are scarier truer villain.
– Prostitutes make money by boosting (stealing), roosting (gang lookout), hair cuts and turning tricks.
– Overweight women or bad teeth get paid less. High school sports women meant better jobs and pay. But men take over women’s jobs and earn more.
– Guy who wrote gang leader studied prostitutes. Blacks pay average 9 dollars less. Condoms not used much and 2 dollar discount for using one. But good news is HIV not spread as much as with male prostitutes. Pimps are better, more advantage for everyone and used to be mostly women and then men took over and made more money. She’s more likely to have sex with cop instead of getting arrested by him.
– Wage difference between men and women because of 3 things. Lower GPA and fewer interested in finances. Fewer hours spent at work. More career interruptions. Mostly because they love babies as much as men love money. They’d rather meet a husband that earns enough for her to be a bum ;o)
– Transgender study. Men are more competent in science and finance. FTMs made a third less money.
– Chances of Islamic babies being born messed up because of mom fasting during Ramadan.
– Deliberate practice makes perfect.
1 Setting specific goals.
2 Getting immediate feedback.
3 Concentrating on technique as much as outcome.
– Hospitals recirculate air so SARS in one room broken ankle in another. Sloppy handwriting wrong diagnosis or medications. female doctors better than males at keeping people alive. Poor more likely to die. Better to stay at home. Where doctors go on strike more people stayed alive. Annuity and religion incentive to live longer. Chemotherapy profit for docs but not worth it not only money wise. No efficacy.
– Practising to fight a war is just as dangerous as war.
– Humans are hard wired for altruism.
– Inventing hurricane cooler/killer
– Buying local ruminant meat causes more greenhouse gasses. Better to change diet to say kangaroo meat. So Oz scientists are trying to transplant roo tummies into cows.
– Definition of externality. Things like buying lojack for the car. Bees and fruit farmers setting up shop next to each other. Volcano in Philippines cooled the earth because the ash did not allow the sun radiation to come through enough.
– Labs where Mosquitoes are bred and put in a fish tank and assassinated at a distance by a laser to help combat malaria.
– Al Gore over exaggerates some of the global warming scares in An Inconvenient Truth.
– Dumping 100,000 tons of sulphur dioxide in the right place will reverse global warming. This much is already emitted everywhere else. Project is called ‘a garden hose to the sky’.
– Circumcision reduced HIV infections by 60%.

Table of Contents
An Explanatory Note – In which we admit to lying in our previous book.

Introduction: Putting the Freak in Economics
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? 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? 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 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 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? 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. In which it is revealed that—aw, hell, you have to read it to believe it.



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About the Authors

Other Books by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner



About the Publisher


Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception – The Great Courses

Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception – Professor Peter M. Vishton Ph.D.

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24 Lectures
1 – Your Amazing, Intelligent Senses
Embark on a fascinating journey into the secret life of your senses. In this introductory lecture, Professor Vishton uses a series of demonstrations to prove that perception is, in fact, amazing; shows you how your sensory systems inherently rely on making “educated guesses”; and lays the roadmap for the lectures ahead.

2 – The Physiological Hardware of Your Senses
Get a working knowledge of sensory physiology that will prove important for the lectures ahead. Learn how neurons function, how your senses translate energy into electrical signals, how your brain organizes this energy, and how you can mentally represent the infinite range of things out in the world.

3 – Neuroimaging – The Sensory Brain at Work
Learn how brain researchers figured out how the functions of sensation and perception map onto particular brain regions. Focusing on what happens when you recognize a face, see how brain-injured patients, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and scientific studies have brought us closer than ever to understanding this complex subject.

4 – Brain Modules – Subcomponents of the Senses
There is evidence out there to support the idea that your senses arise from many separate, independent “modules.” Here, Professor Vishton discusses the evidence for this organization and demonstrates how your mind puts these modules together to create the rich, combined sensory experience you live with every day.

5 – Perceiving a World in Motion
Explore three key aspects of how you sense motion. First, learn why motion information is important for perceiving the location, shape, and identity of objects around you. Then, examine how your brain perceives and infers motion. Finally, discover how you interpret the complex patterns of motion delivered to your retinas.

6 – Seeing Distance and Depth
Probe a classic mystery of sensory processing: depth perception. When is depth perception not accurate? How do cues such as convergence and motion parallax support your perception of size and depth? And how do you put these sources of information together to produce a single, accurate picture of what’s around you?

7 – Seeing Color and Light
Turn now to the ways that you perceive color. After a quick discussion of the physics of light and color, Professor Vishton explains the trichromatic theory of color perception (how color is processed in your retinas) and the opponent process theory of color perception (how color is interpreted in your visual cortex).

8 – Your World of Taste and Olfaction
In the first of six lectures on your nonvisual senses, focus on taste and smell. You’ll learn where your unique flavor preferences come from, how smells are processed in your brain, why aromas can recall particular memories and emotions, how taste interacts with smell and vision, and much more.

9 – Hearing the World around You
What are the physics of sound? How does your auditory system transform sound into patterns of neural activity? How does sound localization – the process through which you can infer the location of different sound sources – work? Uncover the answers to these and many other questions about your sense of hearing.

10 – Speech and Language Perception
In this fascinating lecture, discover how you produce and perceive language. Explore how you communicate ideas using basic sounds; how you determine where one word ends and another begins; how things you think are being perceived by your ears are actually sensed by your eyes, and more.

11 – Touch – Temperature, Vibration, and Pressure
Broaden your understanding of just how detailed and intricate is your sense of touch. You’ll spend time considering the different reception systems embedded in your skin; the ways you use touch to control your actions and to explore your surroundings; and how this particular sense grounds your other senses.

12 – Pain – How It Works for You
Pain is more than just a nuisance – it’s extremely important to your well-being. Get an overview of the systems of pain perception; the ways your brain processes pain formation; how seeing pain in others can quite literally cause you to feel pain yourself; and what happens when the pain system breaks down.

13 – Perception in Action
Recent scientific studies have shown that your actions can actually control your perceptions. Here, Professor Vishton guides you through our latest understanding of the interplay between action and perception. By looking at how perception and action go together, you’ll have a much more accurate grasp of the entire human sensory process.

14 – Attention and Perception
Examine how attention works in the human visual system. You’ll learn how attention functions, how it enables you to locate mental resources effectively, how it works as a “spotlight” highlighting aspects of visual input, and how it serves as “perceptual glue” pulling together aspects of a stimulus into perceptual objects.

15 – Kinesthetic Perception
One human sense often left off the standard list of five: kinesthetic perception, or how you perceive and move your body. Consider aspects of kinesthetic perception, including your vestibular sense (how you perceive the position of your whole body) and proprioception (how you perceive the position of individual body parts).

16 – Seeing, Remembering, Inferring Infants
Get a better understanding of adult perception by exploring the intriguing process of perceptual development from birth to the first few years of life. How do infants see? Control their eye moments? Use their sensory input to make inferences about things they can’t directly see? Learn all this and more here.

17 – How Infants Sense and Act On Their World
Continue building on ideas about how infant perception works and develops. In this lecture, you’ll focus on how an infant’s nonvisual senses develop; how an infant connects sensory abilities to actions such as crawling, reaching, and grasping; and how these action abilities influence an infant’s sensory and perceptual abilities.

18 – Illusions and Magic
Enter the world of illusions and see how, in addition to being entertaining, they can reinforce and further develop your grasp of human sensation and perception. Professor Vishton guides you through some of his favorite visual illusions, including the Kanizsa triangle, the “Café wall,” and the “paper dragon” illusions.

19 – Perceiving Emotion in Others and Ourselves
Consider perception and emotion from a variety of perspectives. How does emotion ramp up your sensory sensitivity to fear, or reduce it for disgust? How can various emotional states change your perception of time and space? How can you use vision and hearing to pick up information about someone’s future health and well-being?

20 – Sensing the Thoughts of Others – ESP
Reading minds. Detecting lies. Predicting the future. Debunk these and other “paranormal phenomena” by exploring how we infer others’ thoughts and actions through standard perception. Then, consider the possibility that ESP, telepathy, and clairvoyance can exist by learning about an ambitious – and controversial – research project from the 1980s.

21 – Opponent Process for Perception and Life
Make sense of opponent process, one of the most fundamental organizational principles by which your brain is organized. Consider how opponent process is implemented at the level of individual neurons, how it maintains your internal state of well-being, how it explains why people engage in extreme behavior, and more.

22 – Synesthesia – Tasting Color and Seeing Sound
Focus on the strange and interesting phenomenon of synesthesia, which draws seemingly bizarre connections between different sensory inputs (such as associating a letter with a specific color or an image with an unrelated taste). Studying this subject, you’ll find, reveals some interesting facts about normal perception as well.

23 – How Your Sensory Systems Learn
How do wine experts correctly identify wine after a single sip? How do chessmasters re-create pieces of a game on a chessboard? The answer is the subject of this lecture: perceptual learning, or the ways your sensory systems change after repeated exposure to stimulus.

24 – Fixing, Replacing, and Enhancing the Senses
Cochlear implants, artificial retina projects, tactile television – just three of the fascinating topics you’ll learn about in this final lecture on fixing and replacing damaged sensory systems. The successes and failures of these and other technologies have taught us even more about how the senses work.