Oh, hi there. You probably thought I was going to be writing about the nuanced interplay between economics and physics, but no, I am instead talking about the TV show. (Sidenote: I am a little disheartened to see that the top Google results for “the big bang theory” are in fact for the TV show.) If you really want to read about the interplay between economics and physics, here’s a Scientific American article that discusses whether economic growth models are at odds with the laws of physics. Furthermore, in Googling “economics physics” to find that for you, I was intrigued/amused that Google’s autocomplete suggested “economics physics envy” for me. (I’m like a Google Superbowl ad here.) Apparently economists suffer from physics envy because economists like to dress up like physicists and pretend that their field has the same level of laws and hard science that physics does.
But I digress, so I will take off my Marie Curie costume and get back to the point. My mom and I go back and forth over The Big Bang Theory (again, the TV show, not the universe thing)- she loves the show and I really want to hate it. I really want to hate it because it presents such a narrow nerd stereotype- I went to MIT and thus know full well that there are many different varieties of nerd. And no, we aren’t all obsessed with Star Trek. That said, things like the following make it difficult for me to hate on the show too much:
Awww, Sheldon is explaining the concept of positional goods! (The humor in the fact that I had to watch a Mercedes ad before that clip does not escape me.) I think I’m in love…and I also want to see the phrase “neener-neener” work its way into an economics paper.
I’ve written about similar concepts before, such as the idea that people care about their incomes relative to others around them in addition to just the absolute dollar amount. But the ideas are all related, since it’s easier to do the “neener-neener” boasting when your neighbors are poorer. And don’t even get me started on Marx and his commodity fetishism stuff…
(HT to reader Keenan Robert, via my Facebook page.)