I am on-board ship in the Baltic and reading More Sex Is Safer Sex by Steven E. Landsburg. How would I know that it's a conversation starter? And who wants to start conversations if one can blog?
I estimate that I have taught about 10,000 econ principles students over the many years. Getting inside their heads is the challenge. One always looks for precisely the kind of analysis, examples and flair that Landsburg demonstrates.
In "How to Read the News", he takes us through the dreary standard analysis that we get from news sources re racial profiling, disaster relief, the sack of Baghdad, global warming, trade deficits, outsourcing, the racism of protectionism.
He begins Ch 14 this way: "The problem with the news is that it tends to be reported by journalism majors. That's probably better than letting them design bridges, but it does call for a certain skepticism on the part of the reader. Even when the facts are right, the interpretation can be very wrong -- especially on hot-button issues like racial profiling or outsourcing, where prejudices run deep. If you want to know what's realy happening, a little economic analysis can go a long way." This is what he does, perhaps better than most.