Sunday, August 06, 2006

Inside the Economist's Mind

When an academic economist finishes a project, he/she has published a paper in a refereed journal. Does the "journey" detailing how she came up with the idea, who she debated, who else was a rival in some riveting struggle, who contributed to honing the idea --- does any of this detail really matter? To gossips yes, but does the "process" really matter once we have the final contribution?

Apparently, I am in the minority on this one because we are about to be given a book that takes us into the "inside". "In candid interviews, these 16 great economists prove to be fabulous story tellers of their lives and times. Unendingly gripping for insiders, this book should also help non-specialists understand how economists think." see http://econ.tepper.cmu.edu/barnett/quotations.html

I don't care how the sausage is made. I care about the final product. Unless these oral histories reveal details about how organizations such as the University of Chicago's economics department have maintained their excellence for so long then the individual details of paper creation border on trivia.

While we are talking about the mind, you might want to read this intriguing paper. Revealed preference is back!
www.princeton.edu/~pesendor/mindless.pdf

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