May 2018

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« Kirzner on Rothbard -- a flawed genius | Main | Social Cooperation Even In Unfavorable Circumstances -- what does it teach us? »


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In addition to crude metrics like "number of students mentored", you also mention it is important to note what those students "have done with their respective careers". This kind of academic influence can be captured quite eloquently by why what SNA researchers call "eigenvector centrality". Using this relative measure (or a more general notion of it) allows one to rank individuals in terms of their connections to other highly influential “nodes” in a graph.

Can anyone think of an economist whose academic flower may not bloom quite as full as Sargent's, but who perhaps changed the minds of “the right people” (individuals whose own influence was then used to spread the initial idea far and wide)?

I am not sure if these metrics are always a good measure. While in a time before a Kuhn scientific revolution a well-versed professor might spawn many followers, I doubt that this measure captures academic prowess correctly. While i do not know the numbers, I could imagine that Immanuel Kant or Einstein were not as "prolific" as Sargent but maybe they left a greater legacy that defies measurements. And having said that, I have a feeling that if all these foundations and states that fund public education and research funnel their moneys into academic fields according to such "performance" indicators they may well create more mediocrity than Kants.

Good post! Please correct discipline in the last paragraph.

Well, if we're into typos, I have another one: "debates flarE up on blogs" not "flar".

Which way to influence is the correct path? Comparative advantage. Let people do what they do best - reaching the public outside academia; shifting the scene within academia; publishing a paper, starting a blog, making a you tube channel.

In comparison to another organization - we are familiar with - debating which way is better misses the point of comparative advantage. If you have a frustration or deaf ear in dealing with academics but articulate passion for general public audiences you will be less than useless making presentations to professors. Hence, to all game players - you wouldn't want them there anyway as it would just confuse and cause problems for you and what you are trying to do. Good, don't miss them.

That being said, today, I need no further convincing of the effectiveness - carried out by those whose comparative advantage lies in down this avenue - of "playing the game," then seeing an add for Chris Coynes "Doing Bad by Doing Good" in Foreign Affairs magazine right smack in the middle of a Mark Leonard (head of European Council on Foreign Relations). I'd say thats serious progress.

Let me just note that some of the most influential economists in history had zero students. So, this post is a bit overstated.

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