way to go, paul!

Those of you who care about little things like science and achievement may be aware that economist extraordinaire Paul Krugman recently won the Nobel economic prize. Specifically he won the prize for his work analyzing the impact of economies of scale on global trade patterns. Some of you, however, may be more familiar with Krugman for his outspoken commentary on the current U.S. administration:

Krugman has been a harsh critic of the Bush administration and the Republican Party in The New York Times, where he writes a regular column and has a blog called “Conscience of a Liberal.”

He has come out forcefully against John McCain during the economic meltdown, saying the Republican candidate is “more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago” and earlier that the GOP has become “the party of stupid.”

Now, aside from the fact that I’d like to congratulate Professor Krugman on his achievement, I bring this up for one main reason: because it gives me a chance to brag. You see, a while back Krugman made a very interesting observation about the relationship between various scientific fields. Specifically, he remarked as follows:

The essential story there was one of hard-science arrogance: Forrester, an eminent professor of engineering, decided to try his hand at economics, and basically said, “I’m going to do economics with equations! And run them on a computer! I’m sure those stupid economists have never thought of that!” And he didn’t walk over to the east side of campus to ask whether, in fact, any economists ever had thought of that, and what they had learned. (Economists tend to do the same thing to sociologists and political scientists. The general rule to remember is that if some discipline seems less developed than your own, it’s probably not because the researchers aren’t as smart as you are, it’s because the subject is harder.) [emphasis added]

Ken Houghton over on Marginal Utility took this to mean that we sociologists are smarter than economists. Well, I don’t know about that- I’m pretty dumb, as anyone who reads my main blog can attest- but I do think it’s pretty awesome that a guy who won a Nobel is suggesting that what we do is harder than what he does.

So thanks, Paul, and congratulations on the Nobel! Don’t spend it all in one place!

2 thoughts on “way to go, paul!”

  1. I missed contact with the outside world this weekend, as it was both Thanksgiving up here and we had amazingly warm, sunny weather, but this is great news. I only know a thimbleful of economics, but his work on scale is really interesting and accessible. Awesome.


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