The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy

Economists are a special breed of nerd

Paul Krugman supports Occupy Wall Street, but he has some ideas about its agenda.
Paul Krugman supports Occupy Wall Street, but he has some ideas about its agenda.

Lately, I've been reading this very entertaining economics blog, Noahopinion, written by Noah Smith, a recent econ PhD who just got a job at the Stoney Brook University College of Business (Congrats!). Smith engages with a lot of the usual wonky econoblogger topics (and also some heavily wonky topics), but he also takes a look at the culture of economics. In this post, he really nails the strange relationship between economist and the more overtly nerdy members of other professions, like physics, computer science, and math. 

He argues that economists should release their inner nerd. BUT they have to be careful about how truly nerdy that nerd they release actually is. For example:

But for Milton Friedman's sake, don't be a science nerd! If someone references Star Trek or Mass Effect, give them the hairy eyeball. Remember, "technology" has nothing to do with semiconductors or machine learning or General Relativity; "technology" is the Solow Residual! Economists evaluate technology from on high; we do not descend into the muck of knowing how it actually works. And remember: you do math well, but you don't likemath, not for it's own sake. Do not gush about all the cool difficult math you just did, whine about it.

That's pretty good! You could survey the hearts and minds of many, many economists and come to exactly the same conclusion that Smith does. Keep an eye on this fellow — as much as for his writing as for his economist-ing!

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