where is the economist saying, ‘yeah, well, we have the highest salaries’

On xkcd (via Anomie):

If you’re so pure, why aren’t you rich?  (Or, if you are so impure, why aren’t you rich?  I can’t figure out which way it should go.)

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

11 thoughts on “where is the economist saying, ‘yeah, well, we have the highest salaries’”

  1. When I saw this, what amused me is that I’m a sociologist and my son is going into math, and he has the mathematicians view of this cartoon.

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  2. I would love to see a cross-classification table of different academic specialties by parent and child. How does the proportion of sociologist parent -> economist kid compare to the proportion of economist parent -> sociology kid, for instance?

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  3. Mathematics is pure, but it’s not science.

    Where is this line in my head from: “Since sociology is a branch of biology, its ultimate expression must be mathematical.” (Unfortunately Google returns me asking the same question elsewhere last year.)

    I would love to see a cross-classification table of different academic specialties by parent and child. How does the proportion of sociologist parent -> economist kid compare to the proportion of economist parent -> sociology kid, for instance?

    One aspect of this is the changing fortunes of these fields. I would expect to see many more Physicist parent –> Biology/Chem kids these days than the reverse, for example.

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  4. I too wonder where the economists go!

    Also, both of my parents are urban planners so could conceivably go to the left of the sociologist who could say, “planning is just applied sociology.” Oh wait, I think I HAVE said that. Whoops?

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  5. As I noted initially, the cartoon is clearly a math cartoon, which is how I read it – I saw it before it was posted in sociology blogs. It echoes conversations I had with my son and with things mathematicians have said. We may care about the relation between economics and sociology or how economics fits into the scheme, but mathematicians don’t. Kieren: “Math is pure but it isn’t science” is how mathematicians talk about it. (Sounds like you know that.) It’s not empirical. It isn’t science. It is an end in itself. It is more like art.

    Re kids, my other one is currently a sociology grad. The father in the family is not an academic but coaches a math team. The acorns are not very far from the trees. But we are all a little nutty.

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  6. And Kieran I answered your question for you last year in that Crooked Timber thread. To quote myself:

    “Isn’t it Colin McEvedy in the introduction to the
    “Penguin Atlas of Ancient History”? But he says it’s history which must ultimately have a mathematical expression, not sociology. Or were you joking?”

    Try and remember it this time, *history* not sociology. History.

    Chris Edmond

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  7. The economist is to the left of the sociologists: economists are weak sociologists who pretend to be able to do math, but specialize in partial differential equations.

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