Sunday, October 09, 2005

Just back from a Freakonomics lecture!

I have the homework of three subjects pending but couldn't resist going to this lecture by Steven D Levitt of Freakonomics fame at Los Angeles. Lecture mast tha!

In fact, I shall try and get more Hinglish into this blog because the expression of some ideas is best done in apna bhasha! In fact, if you can explain an economic model in Bihari, and the other person can make sense of it (whether he agrees with it or not!), it means that your model is intelligible in any language and for any wavelength of thought!

So the essence of the lecture was this:
1> Incentives is the tool of an economist (no news!)
2> Gather data and ask questions involving incentives and behaviour of people (now we have something going!)
3> Don't bother about the big questions (when will world poverty be removed?), go and chip away at the micro-questions and you will find ideas for the big questions. (Makes sense!)

And what followed were examples of the Chicago School of working at a problem; experimental economics and freakonomics at work in baseball and financial markets! Steven D Levitt is a great communicator and it was worth going for his lecture. Especially the part where attends his first undergraduate class in Econ and asks his classmate about the curved d (the delta of calculus!) on the board! Now here is a person who doesn't take math as the ends and instead concentrates on its ends!

He had some gyan about confident of being different so that you bring your original perspective to the issue. Now that is treading into law and economics! It will be interesting to see the connexion between privacy laws and the variety of personalities that develop under privacy laws. I do think they have a reinforcing effect on each other.

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