Sunday, November 25, 2007


An opinion I've always held is that the first thing a career in academics should teach you is humility. It doesn't matter how good you are - it is always likely that there is someone better than you, and vary glaringly so. Most of us play in the minor leagues, with so many layers of ability and accomplishment above us that the mind boggles in contemplation. Therefore I have little time for the prima donnas one frequently encounters in academic life. It amazes me that, while humility is the expected outcome, what you often get is an overinflated sense of self-worth.

In economics, Paul Samuelson, in my opinion, is one person who could lean back and confidently say 'Pound for pound, there probably is no better economist than I'. But even he could look across at Physics or some other science, glance at a titan or two, and be caused to gulp.