THE TEACHING ECONOMIST - William A. McEachern                 

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Issue 18, Spring 2000

William A. McEachern, Editor

Odds and Ends

The previous issue of The Teaching Economist surveyed economics department home pages. Here is an update. Georgia Tech has now completed all its missing links. Indiana State has dressed up its Web page, updating publication information and providing students with tentative course offerings through the spring term 2001. And the problems found with the University of Delaware's Web site were traced to a dated link from the master list of economics department home pages. Delaware's home page looks fine.

The day before Robert Mundell was selected for the 1999 Nobel Prize in Economics, I visited a Web site that runs a poll asking who should win (www.inomics.com/query/vote). The top half-dozen vote-getters in that poll were Zvi Griliches, with 174 votes, Hans-Hermann Hoppe (127), Clive Granger (111), Paul Davidson (86), Jacques Dreze (80), and Paul Krugman (69). Mundell finished in an 18-way tie for 59th place. His five votes were only one-third the total for McCloskey, who got 14 as Donald and 1 as Deirdre. The top vote getter, Griliches, died about five weeks before the Nobel announcement (and thus would not have been eligible). The second-place finisher, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, is an editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics and faculty member at UNLV. My guess is that his total was the result of some sort of organized campaign. I have been tracking this poll for years and it has never come close to picking the actual winner.

I have a colleague who received a national award for publishing the most in his field in a recent year. I discussed his work habits with him. He said he likes two conditions: working with co-authors and working with deadlines. Both arrangements help push a paper to completion. Very few of us can get much done without having our feet held to the fire in some way. Likewise, we need to provide structured deadlines for students.

A colleague at a nearby university, pressed for time in preparing his principles exam, put together the exam by simply copying pages from a multiple-choice test bank. There are all kinds of reasons why this is a bad idea. He realized later that there was an asterisk alongside each correct answer, but the average on that exam was no different than was typical for his exams. In talking to students, he found that the overwhelming share of them thought it was some sort of misleading trick to be ignored.

"The love of economy is the root of all virtue." -George Bernard Shaw

"Money buys everything except brains." -Yiddish proverb

"Money grows on the tree of patience." -Japanese proverb

"The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time." -Willem de Kooning (American painter)

"Poverty is a great enemy of human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult." -Samuel Johnson

"The truth is that other social sciences are still waiting for their Adam Smiths." -Paul Krugman

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