|A BEGINNER'S GUIDE FOR EAGER ECONOMISTS
I mean just study the last few Economics Awards to get a sense of
what it takes.
But if even that is too much effort ( I know: they don't teach you a
whole lot at grad. schools these days) , here is a far simpler
Aim at the Nobel Peace Prize instead, but taking careful cue from the
logos (if you can detect one) of the Economics Nobel Awards.
The idea here is to win the Peace Prize just the way the Economics
Prizes get nabbed.
The modus operandi , as follows.
Get a Grant, study a few Wars, and accumulate heaps of 'hard' Data
(i.e. have your research students log it all – recording the murder
and the mayhem, the whole bit, whilst you summer in Cambridge, UK,
lightly perusing the literature).
Analyse the raw data ( your imported RA can help you do that, for
peanuts, on a laptop, on a cruise ship, preferably, so you have
plenty of fresh air) with the usual stock kit of abstruse economist
Regressions, correlations, game theory , plus a few chaos models
naturally, [and that new experimental econ. lab stuff with a few
well chosen rats (no, I don't mean ones picked out of the econ
Take a year off now – you might consider Hawaii - to
dispassionately study the sobering conclusions.
Hold a press conference, upon your return, in your best Harris
Tweed coat, and an open collar Oxford (unless it's summer, in which
case you button the collar), someplace in New England, to announce
your important findings.
As the world holds its breath , cough modestly (before speaking, not
during), then say.:
'I am pleased to announce that my life-long study of War confirms my
Take your glasses off here , and pause eloquently. Then, as the cameras click:
'I can now say with the utmost confidence that Wars most decidedly
Your audience will freak out. They can scarce believe their ears.
These are the Reagan generation types who wept at flunking ROTC.
' Indeed, " you will continue in that debonair way, " I submit that
people can, and do, get killed. Possibly, in very large numbers'.
"But… how can you be so sure?' a smart NYT Reporter might interject,
marveling at the boldness of it.
You will stare back at this hostile critic with the utmost contempt.
"Do you know what a high R square is?' you will demand tersely.
'N'no,' she will stammer back, in embarra ssment, realizing uneasily
that an English Lit. Degree from Bryn Mawr has its limitations.
"Well then, take it from me, young lady: it's true. Consider it
established . By me." Hold up your name tag at this point for clear
Pandemonium will ensue, as reporters rush to their cameras. They can
see the Headlines already: WAR SUCKS, SAYS INTREPID SCIENTIST!
"But how came you to that novel hypothesis, Professor?' a junior
Reporter might ask, admiringly.
'Inspiration, really' you will say, with a modest laugh, 'it all
started wh en I was playing this amazing Atari video game…'
"But what about the policy implications, Professor?" this query will
come from the usual genre of foreign reporters who are such
kill-joys at such events, with their harsh accents.
But you saw this one coming.
"Yes, the policy implication is unmistakable: We should , all of us,
to coin a phrase, make love, not war. It is imperative. Indeed, no
time must be lost."
By this time, It will be midnight in Sweden - it's always midnight in
Sweden - but the entire Nobel Committee will be woken up to view the
Gunnar will call Sven to say: 'This guy's amazing – shall we give it to him?'
And Sven will say: " But what does he say?
Gunnar; He says we should make love , not war.
Sven: I have a fourteen year old with that line sewn on to her
tee-shirt. It's her mother's.
Gunnar; But now we know it is good science, Sven.
Sven: So True,: but which Prize should we give him?"
Gunnar: We could say it's for Economics. It's always the Prize we
give when we don't understand what they're saying.
Sven: But we just gave that away to the guy who says people starve in famines.
Gunnar; Do they really?: Godegud! These Americans are really very clever, Sven.
Sven: Ya , Ya,: but it's our Prize, Gunnar. We invented it,
alongside dynamite, Volvos, and that clever pose of neutrality:
never you forget that. Heck, just between us, you know we invented
virtually all of European Civ., but don't say that to the French ,
or the English: heh-heh, you know, they're still smarting over
Gunnar: Ah, god bless the Vikings: what visionaries they were! But
we don't win that many Prizes ourselves, Sven!
Sven: Because we are too modest, Gunnar, and we are Lutherans: we
sacrifice ourselves to keep the Prize neutral, and above suspicion .
You must know that!
Gunnar;: How very true! I once gave up my seat on a bus to an old
woman: er, she was the driver. Anthropology, then?
Sven; Herregud! You been drinking, Gunnar?; we don't have one for
Anthropology. It's not a science, like economics.
Sven:: Certainly not! Can you imagine the IMF being run by
Anthropologists? Why, they would all smoke grass at Board Meetings
and invite the NGO's in to use the rest rooms.
Gunnar;: Heavens! : it'd be just like all those boat people we
once had in Stockholm. Ok, then: Linguistics, maybe?
Sven: Never! Then we'd have to give it to that Chomsky menace, who
, hang it, will only accept it in Havana…or maybe it's Caracas now.
Gunnar: Good grief: he's still alive?
Sven: Oh…, not Trotsky, Faarskalle!,: Chomsky.
Gunnar: Ah, yes, but of course: who is he?
Sven: Never mind, Gunnar: don't fog your mind with little things.
Gunnar: You are so right: so, which Prize is left?
Sven: The Peace Prize , of course: it's for those who don't qualify
for the Economics prize.
Gunnar; But I thought just about anyone could win the Economics Prize!
Sven : So one would have thought…well, it's a very strange world, Gunnar.
Well, you can guess at the rest: by morning , these good Nordic dons
will be on line with you, quizzing your data closely,
Being prepared, you will email them your best Regressions, after a
quick pocket calculator test, and a nervous chat with your RA. (who
has, as you now remember, all of the bad data still stored on his
By 10 AM , your colleagues will be at your door., all save one.
She will hold a placard up that says ' Wars don't kill people: Guns do'.
Yes, she's the one you voted down for tenure last year: so you will
absent -mindedly call security on your cell to toss her out, but
only after making a mental note to research her competing hypothesis
Which reminds me: you'd have to be working at Brookings, or Harvard ,
or such hi-brow places to get the award , as outlined in the steps
above [Working at Louisiana State, or in Saskatchewan State just
won't cut it. The Scandies will call ahead just to make sure of that:
they're awful sticky about such things. True, of course, that once in
a while they throw it away to folks in the boonies , just to keep
their spirits up].
But that's easily arranged, don't you know : quickly write up a key
policy paper ( so it'd be pretty rash to fire that Sri Lankan RA
just as yet) suggesting that the optimal solution ( you know this
one: it's where the sub-marginal social ethics of the economist is
exactly equal to his/her sub-marginal personal intelligence ) for
disposal of hazardous nuclear waste is to dump it all on Somalia,
preferably from the air: and then quietly leak it to the Press.
It'll get the phones ringing.
Heck, just for that, the Swedes could even change their minds, at
the last minute, and give you the Economics Prize instead, in
If I were you, given the way things are going, I'd ask for it in
small, unmarked, krugerrands.
[rajani kanth January 26, 06]