Some decisions are very easy. Like the one to cash-in on an unexpected bestseller. But some are very hard. Would you rather drive home pissed from a party or walk? Sayonara if you choose to walk, because you're far more likely to be run over by all the other people driving back from the party pissed!
As you can see, the reason it's taken us four years to come up with a second volume is that we haven't really got any interesting material. But as Chicago-based economist Kevin J Dickhead has proved, most readers don't get beyond page 10 of books like this, so we're not too bothered.
Let's stir things up a bit. It's often said that women experience a glass ceiling. Well, maybe the reason they earn less is because they are a bit workshy and like having babies. We don't have any real evidence to support this, but we're just wacky contrarians! Oi, Mrs Levitt and Mrs Dubner! You can get on with the dinner now!
Does it seem odd that so many top sports stars are born at the same time of year? Almost certainly not, because Malcolm Gladwell already covered this in Outliers earlier this year and it wasn't interesting then, as it was just a spin on educational year cohorts that most people already know. But here's the twist: a study by Captain Nemo from the Nautilus Institute shows that 99.9% of all readers won't remember where they read it first, so we can claim this factoid as our own.
Many people fear Islamic terrorists. In fact you are more likely to die of boredom reading this book than in a suicide bombing. Still, there's an infallible way to spot a suicide bomber: just check out everyone with a Muslim name who has no life insurance. Or now that our secret is out, find every Muslim who has changed his name to Jeremy and bought life insurance. Why didn't the CIA think of this?
We've called this next chapter Unbelievable Stories About Altruism And Apathy, because it turns out that everything we always imagined about people's behaviour isn't as we thought because people react differently in experiments. What's really unbelievable is that it took until 2002 for Jim Dim of the University of Little Rock to point out that the Observer Effect, which has been known for decades by academics in the physical sciences, also applies in economics. But as we're economists we're too thick to grasp this.
Did you know that it took a maverick doctor to point out that puerperal fever was caused by other doctors not washing their hands? Oh you did. Well, anyway, some global problems can easily be solved, but people reject the solutions because they appear too cheap and easy. Take hurricanes. They are caused by a slight rise in the surface temperature of the sea in key locations. Professor Lysergic Acid of the University of Middle-Earth has come up with an ingenious answer. Dump all the world's unwanted fridges in these areas and you will kill two birds with one stone. But for some reason no one wants to listen to him.
Climate change is an extremely contentious issue, so, sure enough, we're going to take an unorthodox line. Al Gore is a tosser, global warming is not as bad as anyone feared, we need more not less carbon dioxide, and the only spanner in the works is that we're not pumping enough sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. Our new best friends at the Centre for Burnt-Out Microsoft Trillionaires have proved that all we need to do is build an 18-mile-high chimney on top of a coal power station and the planet can be saved. It's not as difficult as you think. If you take a lot of drugs.
Finally, we would like to point out that economics is not just a human endeavour. Professor Allen Lane bet us a bunch of bananas that a couple of monkeys couldn't bash out this manuscript. We sure proved him wrong!
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017