20. The Big Questions by Steven Landsburg

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20. The Big Questions by Steven Landsburg

Post  wmeisel on Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:55 pm

Landsburg is an economist, author of two interesting books, "The Armchair Economist" and "More Sex is Safer Sex."

I sampled this book, but did not read all of the chapters. Landsburg is often fascinating, but somehow his arguments don't always convince me. For example, Chapter 6 attempts to convince you that most believers don't really believe what their particular religions say are true; I can't find the flaw in Landsburg's reasoning, but I was still somehow unconvinced.

Chapter 5 explains how our brains experience color, and connects this to free trade (in a subtle way). Chapter 13 draws the conclusion that internet porn prevents rapes (and talks quite a bit about correlation vs. causation). Chapter 17 introduced Landsburg's Economist's Golden Rule: "Don't leave the world worse off than you found it" and its corollary, "Don't spend valuable time in nonproductive ways." The next chapter then applies this rule to answer a host of ethical questions (sometimes with tongue in cheek). Chapter 19 uses Goofus and Gallant to discuss immigration policy.

The chapters I skipped dealt with things I have already read about, including several sections on quantum physics, some on probability. I also skipped his chapter on creationism vs. evolution; my life is too short.

In general, this is recommended if you like pop-economics books, and it is easy to sample from, as I did. Landsburg is not as well known as some of the other pop-economics book writers, but his books are always interesting. (I should also say that "More Sex is Safer Sex" is excellent, and probably better than this one)..

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