We saw a hint of controversy about the global warming chapter in SuperFreakonomics emerging last week. The book launches today and accusations are flying on the Web, including dueling NYT blogs.

Paul Krugman attacks the book in his NYT blog — SuperFreakonomics on Climate, Part 1

…the first five pages, by themselves, are enough to discredit the whole thing. Why? Because they grossly misrepresent other peoples’ research, in both climate science and economics.

Steven Levitt responds on his NYT blog — The Rumors of Our Global-Warming Denial Are Greatly Exaggerated

The critics are implying that we dismiss any threats from global warming; but the entire point of our chapter is to discuss global-warming solutions, so obviously that’s not the case.

Krugman expands on his points — Weitzman in context

Levitt now says that the chapter wasn’t meant to lend credibility to global warming denial — but when you open your chapter by giving major play to the false claim that scientists used to predict global cooling, you have in effect taken the denier side.

Co-author Stephen Dubner steps in — Global Warming in SuperFreakonomics: The Anatomy of a Smear

If everything they said was actually true, it would indeed be a damning indictment. But it’s not.

The global warming section is just one of five chapters. Some media outlets have focused on others:

A writer for Harvard Business Publishing feels there’s a problem with the premise of the entire book, saying the authors,

…are to economics what Friends is to culture: pop. And ultimately, though Levitt’s academic work is stellar, the Freakonomics genre represents the trivialization of a great system of thought. Instead of improving that system of thought, it applies already questionable assumptions to what are socially the lowest-value uses.

The book is currently at #8 on Amazon.

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
Retail Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow – (2009-10-20)
ISBN / EAN: 0060889578 / 9780060889579

HarperAudio: 9780060889357; $34.99
HarperLuxe: 9780061927577; $29.99
Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive

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