Economists vs physicists

Greg Mankiw links to GRE test results (the test done before graduate school) that show scores by discipline. Physics ranks first with economics number 4. Public administration is a bit of a worry.

That reminded me of an old story (not sure if it is true) about a discussion between economics Nobel prize winner, Bob Solow, and a physics prize winner. Solow was report to have commented that he always thought physicists were smarter than economists. The physicist was said to have replied “well I don’t think that can be true. Otherwise people would move from physics to economics until their average intelligence was equal.”

2 thoughts on “Economists vs physicists”

  1. An economist, a physicist and a mathematician were traveling to Scotland by train. The first thing they saw when they crossed the border was a black sheep.

    “Aha!” said the economist “in Scotland, all sheep are black”

    “Not at all” said the physicist, “in Scotland, some sheep are black”

    “My dear chaps” said the mathematician, “in Scotland, at least one sheep is black on at least one side”


  2. GRE scores as an indicator? Don’t you just practice until your mark is high enough to get you where you want to go? Eg, I didn’t worry too much about brushing up on my high school geometry, while anyone wanting to get into an elite physics program presumably swotted for a couple of nights (at most)?

    This suggests we should focus on the low stakes part of the test if we’re worried about – probably verbal for the hard sciences and econ, and math for the chattier subjects. This puts physics and earth sciences ahead of econ (on verbal!), but maths below, and engineerings doing poorly. The best of the chattier guys are philosophy, pol sci, and religion (similar to overall rank, except english goes down).


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