Friday, August 24, 2007

QOTD (With 'While I Was Out' Addendum)

by Tom Bozzo

God, can you imagine what Megan McArdle’s gonna be like when she has kids of her own and they ask her for lunch money?

“For that to be moral, the entire enormous class of school children who are hungry and unemployed must have some justified claim on the money of their working parents,” she’ll tell her weeping son.
Meanwhile, an outer sociologist meets Tyler Cowen's inner economist and isn't so impressed.

To commenter Ralph Hitchens, you could find commentary on Freakonomics (e.g., Jeremy's) that acknowledged that some of the underlying real research was interesting without succumbing to the hype. I guess I was dissuaded from picking up Freakonomics by elements of what struck me as falsity in Stephen Dubner's original NYT magazine article on Levitt that serves as the enterprise's frame tale and/or creation myth. [*] Plus, Levitt very helpfully makes much of his research available online. Let me say that while I think the "freaks and geeks" critique of Levitt is unfair, I'd be interested to spy on a parallel universe in which Levitt, who professed, "I'm not good at math, I don't know a lot of econometrics, and I also don't know how to do theory," accordingly graduated from a 20th ranked PhD program.

As for Inner Economist, well, why buy the cow when I can gaze at my navel for free?

[*] For instance, "The average economist is known to wax oracularly about any and all monetary issues. But if you were to ask Levitt his opinion of some standard economic matter, he would probably swipe the hair from his eyes and plead ignorance."

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Megan graduated from a Top 20 GSB, didn't she?

The idea that a graduate of the MIT Ph.D. program and the winner of Best Undergraduate Thesis at Harvard can be described that way works in the world in which Paul Krugman can be described (as he is in That Book) as simply "a NYTimes columnist and fierce Bush critic" while even John Lott was described as "an economist."
Small world trivia: The guy described as a "snot-nosed graduate student from Berkeley" in the Freaks and Geeks article is presently my office mate.
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