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I recently finished Steven Landsburg’s "The Big Questions”. I can’t quite make up my mind about it. I learned some interesting facts about color vision, ripples in ponds, and the difference between something "true” and something "provable”. I also learned that Landsburg went to a very good kindergarten and had very functional parents.
Overall, I didn’t like the book because it covered too many things too superficially. If you agree with the author’s conclusions, you’re not going to find anything objectionable, but you also won’t hear a new argument. If you disagree, you’re not going to find a lot of solid arguments to rebut. I kept wishing Landsburg (who I’m sure is very intelligent!) were there for me to argue with. Maybe if I were less pedantic, I would be able to not take the sometimes ridiculous claims the author makes so seriously. It did seem like Landsburg wanted to be taken seriously (unlike Stephen Colbert in "I Am America, and So Can You!”), which made his underdeveloped arguments very irritating to read.
Given the uproar that the global warming chapter in "Superfreakonomics” created and the fact that I know something about the subject matter, I decided to skip reviewing the whole book and focus on the chapter where the authors (Steve Levitt and Steve Dubner) discuss the issue of global warming.
Overall, it seems that the criticism of the chapter is largely unjustified. Levitt and Dubner are not claiming that global warming is a myth or that we should do nothing about carbon emissions. Their main point is that geoengineering may prove to be a more effective and cheaper solution than trying to get the world to forego things that emit carbon.