So the following Jeopardy video was going around the econo-blogosphere a few weeks ago…I’m a little horrified that a bunch of people who know random things like what the third longest river in the world is (the Yangtze, which is apparently even longer than previously thought) and the name of Robert E. Lee’s horse (Traveller, and I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t have to look that one up) performed, well, like this when it came to economists:
I particularly like how horrified the woman in red looks by the category- I always thought that people were supposed to be happy when they find the Daily Double, but I guess not. I also REALLY want to know what that last clue would have been.
So what is going on here? I’ve been thinking about this for the past few weeks, and I eventually realized that this outcome is in part a function of what we are taught in school. I think I’ve mentioned before that economics is only required as part of a high school curriculum in 14 or so states, and even then it’s unclear what these schools take to fit under the heading of economics. (I’ll give you a hint- learning how to balance your checkbook is NOT economics.) Furthermore, even though we learn super useful things in American History class like that Gilbert Stuart painted the portrait of George Washington that is on the one-dollar bill and Jethro Tull (the person, not the band) invented the seed drill, we are taught surprisingly little about the economists who played quite the important roles in the development of our (well, my) country and many others. (Like why is Keynes not mentioned more during the study of the Great Depression, for example?)
Before I fall into a rant about my life’s work, let me give you some links for the people referenced in the video:
Adam Smith – philosopher who wrote The Wealth of Nations, which is thought to be one of the seminal economics texts, since it was written at a time when the field of economics didn’t yet exist as such.
Milton Friedman – strong free-market advocate and founder of the “monetary” school of thought, whose ideas run counter to those of Keynes.
Hmmm…I am usually so on top of things- why did I wait so long to post the Jeopardy clip? Welllll…it just so happens that my lovely and talented RA Jarret is on Jeopardy tonight. He won’t tell mw whether he won or not and is making me watch to find out, so you know where I will be (on the couch) at 7:30pm. For now, here’s a nerdy visual:
In the interest of good-natured public humiliation, there is also a “hometown howdy” video on the Jeopardy site that can be found here.
Good luck Jarret! 🙂