A SuperFreakonomics Quiz: Name This University of Chicago Alum

I ran into someone the other day whom I had never met and who fit the following five criteria:

1. He/she attended the University of Chicago.
2. He/she is still alive.
3. He/she is a whole lot smarter than I am.
4. He/she is a whole lot more famous than I am.
5. He/she is even more controversial/notorious than I am.

There a lot of people who satisfy many of these criteria (especially #2 and #3), but I think the set of folks who satisfy all five of these criteria is not very large.

SuperFreakonomics schwag to the first blog commenter to correctly identify this person.

Addendum: We announce the winner here.

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 289


  1. Erin says:

    Jon Corzine

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  2. Maggie says:

    Robert Lucas, Jr ?

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  3. Jeremy says:

    Gary Becker?

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  4. Erin says:

    David Axelrod

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  5. Jason S says:

    I don’t know about number 3 but as far as an alum that is more famous and controversial I would pick either Ashcroft or Corzine lately.

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  6. David says:

    Philip Glass.

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  7. James Doherty says:

    Harvey Levin?

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  8. hedged says:

    bork or thomas sowell

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  9. Paul says:

    John Ashcroft

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  10. Joe says:

    John Ashcroft

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  11. brian close says:

    Gene Fama

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  12. Sam Spade says:

    Phillip Roth

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  13. Jasmine says:

    Ana Marie Cox? Nate Silver?

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  14. Erin says:

    Scratch that… I’m going with Nate Silver. Corzine is definitely not smarter…

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  15. Just Kidding says:

    Tucker Max

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  16. Stephen Le says:

    John Ashcroft?

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  17. Deb Berkheiser says:

    President Barack Obama

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  18. Andrew Alexander says:

    Paul Wolfowitz?

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  19. Tim Ozenne says:

    Bork

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  20. Jim says:

    Robert Bork?

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  21. Stephen Le says:

    Paul Wolfowitz?

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  22. ace says:

    tucker max

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  23. PN says:

    William Niskanen?

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  24. 57Kevin says:

    Andrew Greeley

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  25. Spoonman says:

    One of:

    James M. Buchanan; or
    Susan Sontag?

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  26. Richard says:

    David Brooks

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  27. Mths says:

    Marek Belka

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  28. pablo says:

    leo kadanoff

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  29. dd says:

    Robert Bork

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  30. Sebastien says:

    Jesse Jackson

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  31. Danielle says:

    Austan Goolsbee?

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  32. Mths says:

    Jeremiah Wright

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  33. dd says:

    “I ran into someone the other day …”

    Not with your car. Otherwise criterion #2 wouldn’t hold.

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  34. Mike says:

    John Ashcroft? Jesse Jackson?

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  35. Aaron says:

    David Brooks

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  36. Spoonman says:

    Oh, or Saul Bellow.

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  37. Shayna K says:

    Jesse Jackson

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  38. TravisT says:

    Thomas Sowell or John Ashcroft

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  39. dd says:

    For my second pick, I’ll try Paul Wolfowitz.

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  40. JM says:

    Thomas Frank?

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  41. Jeremy says:

    Gotta be Richard Posner

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  42. Albert says:

    Jeremiah Wright

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  43. Greg says:

    Robert Lucas?

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  44. JM says:

    Philip Roth?

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  45. Greg says:

    Richard Epstein?

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  46. Joe says:

    Don’t know about #3 either, but a random guess: Seymour Hersh.

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  47. Jonathon K. says:

    James Watson

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  48. Jeff says:

    Vonnegut

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  49. Art says:

    obama

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  50. Eric says:

    I would say Barack Obama, but I’m not sure if he actually attended or just worked there…also it seems you wouldn’t just “run into” him.

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  51. Jesse Ingram says:

    Tucker Max

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  52. AJ says:

    Myron Scholes?

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  53. Chris says:

    Robert Bork

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  54. Jesse Ingram says:

    Ok, probably not really #3 but that is subjective isn’t it?

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  55. Adam says:

    Brent Staples

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  56. Thomas Partin says:

    Obama?

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  57. Art says:

    scalia

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  58. James says:

    John Paul Stevens

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  59. Peter says:

    Robert Coover?

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  60. Chuck says:

    William Poole

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  61. Rob says:

    Jesse Jackson

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  62. Brian says:

    Tucker Max

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  63. Jesse says:

    Obama?

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  64. Rob says:

    John Paul Stevens

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  65. Brian says:

    I would say Jesse Jackson, but #3 doesn’t apply.

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  66. Gomi says:

    I was going to say Nate Silver, but someone got there first.

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  67. Abdul S A says:

    Justice Scalia?

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  68. James says:

    Roger Ebert

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  69. StefanH says:

    James D. Watson

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  70. Mars says:

    John Ashcroft

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  71. Greg says:

    Yeah – I’m going to go ahead and guess that you have already met Robert Lucas. I’m an idiot and didn’t read the first part hoping to get a guess in asap.

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  72. James says:

    Tucker Max

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  73. Jordan says:

    Sudhir Venkatesh?

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  74. David says:

    Jack McCoy from Law and Order (never said they couldn’t be a fictional character…)

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  75. tyler says:

    roger ebert

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  76. Mary O'Keeffe says:

    Martin Gardner?

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  77. Mike says:

    Mildred Dreselhaus.

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  78. Andrew Moffit says:

    Thomas Frank

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  79. Mike says:

    Ahmed Chalabi?

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  80. Mike says:

    Kurt Vonnegut?

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  81. Joe says:

    Jeremiah Wright?

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  82. Joe says:

    John Paul Stevens?

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  83. Nick J says:

    John Stossel

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  84. Jacib says:

    Roger Ebert.

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  85. Ken says:

    John Meriwether

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  86. deibs says:

    mike nichols

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  87. Quin says:

    David Brooks

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  88. sbk says:

    Paul Wolfowitz ?

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  89. M.B. says:

    Fred Bloggs

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  90. dan says:

    Lozada.

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  91. Heavy D says:

    Thomas Sowell

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  92. NKW says:

    Ed Asner?!?

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  93. Rod Cadenhead says:

    David Axelrod

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  94. R K says:

    Tom Campbell
    Jon Corzine

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  95. Matt Hill says:

    Roger Ebert, Jesse Jackson, or David Broder?

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  96. Rick G. says:

    Jesse Jackson?
    Paul Wolfowitz?

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  97. ilibbus says:

    Kurt Vonnegut

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  98. Quinton says:

    Ronald Harry Coase

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  99. Nate says:

    Carl Sagan? (It’s almost Halloween)

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  100. Michael says:

    Gotta be Scalia.

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  101. Steve says:

    Justice John Paul Stevens

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  102. Matt says:

    Jesse Jackson

    By why stop at one? I think many others fit.

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  103. Sara says:

    Paul Wolfowitz?

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  104. Sawyer says:

    Harvey Levin

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  105. dan says:

    William Poole?

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  106. Hamilton says:

    Martin Gardner

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  107. Yuval says:

    Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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  108. Shawn says:

    Justice Stevens?

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  109. Shawn says:

    Posner?

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  110. Terre belle says:

    James D. Watson

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  111. alex says:

    Gordon Tullock

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  112. Hamilton says:

    Second guess: Philip Glass

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  113. Aaron says:

    Leopold and Loeb?

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  114. Josh says:

    Jesse Jackson
    Paul Samuelson
    Ed Asner
    Ramsey Clark

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  115. Conor says:

    George F Will

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  116. Craig says:

    Jesse Jackson

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  117. Luke says:

    Justice John Paul Stevens

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  118. DGG says:

    Ronald Coase

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  119. jon says:

    tucker max, except not smarter.

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  120. Michael K says:

    Oprah!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  121. Valerie A. says:

    Barack Obama

    (I’m sure someone’s mentioned this by now but thought I’d try it anyway… don’t feel like flipping through five pages of comments).

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  122. eliot says:

    Colin Camerer

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  123. Daniel Weissbarth says:

    Ann Coulter

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  124. Fede says:

    samuelson

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  125. Michael F. Martin says:

    Paul Samuelson.

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  126. Michael F. Martin says:

    Or maybe Justice Stevens

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  127. Mths says:

    A few others to consider:
    David Broder
    Gonzalo SAnchez de Lozada
    Alvaro Magaña
    Amy Klobuchar
    Carol Moseley Braun
    Bernie Sanders
    Jim Talent
    Thomas Sowell
    Kateryna Yushchenko
    Hayden Schlossberg
    Jason Shaw
    John H. Johnson
    Ana Marie Cox
    Thomas Frank
    Seymour Hersh
    Dan Hertzberg
    John Podhoretz
    Greg Palast
    Susan Sontag
    Leon Kass
    Myron Scholes
    David Suzuki

    Scalia was a professor, he did not attend.

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  128. Dave says:

    Larry Ellison?

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  129. Brenda says:

    Barack Obamaaaa!!!!!!!!

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  130. Jon says:

    Leon Kass

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  131. Greg says:

    Susan Sontag

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  132. Brett says:

    I’ll say Myron Scholes

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  133. deekeyrocky says:

    can i guess it’s me except for number one?

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  134. Sini says:

    Carol Moseley Braun or maybe Jason Shaw.

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  135. Rhonda says:

    Dr. David Takayoshi Suzuki

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  136. Trevor says:

    David Suzuki?

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  137. Abe says:

    Justice John Paul Stevens – i’m sure a ton have got it already

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  138. Joe C says:

    Lawrence Friedman

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  139. Ronald L. says:

    I’d guess either President Obama, Gary Becker, or Ronald Coase.

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  140. Dan Gazarek says:

    Gotta be the Rev. Jesse Jackson

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  141. GdL says:

    How can any of you say Jesse Jackson? The man can’t speak proper English to save his life. And no way in Hades would he fit criteria #3.

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  142. Ben says:

    Leon Kass.

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  143. Jeff Dawson says:

    Oprah

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  144. seu martin says:

    Me

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  145. John says:

    David Rubenstein? I think James Watson is the best answer so far…

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  146. happyjuggler0 says:

    Larry Ellison
    James Q. Wilson
    William Cottrell

    The last one is a long, long, long shot (is he more famous than you, and how do you “run into him”?), but after going through a long list, and discarding those that someone else already posted, I figured I may as well throw the name out there.

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  147. Dan says:

    JoAnne Akalaitis

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  148. Gabriel says:

    Heckman, altough he got his degree elsewhere

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  149. David Kwoh says:

    Chen-Ning Franklin Yang

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  150. Gabriel says:

    After his recent article in the NYT, I can say also Paul Samuelson.

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  151. Robin Hartill says:

    Thomas Sowell

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  152. Kanishka says:

    carmen sandiego

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  153. Kevin says:

    Probably me.

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  154. Bryab says:

    Paul Wolfowitz

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  155. Jefferson says:

    Tucker Max

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  156. Kris says:

    Jesse Jackson

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  157. rlk says:

    roger ebert

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  158. Max says:

    first of all, has to be a woman judging by the answers so far

    second, says attended, not graduated-does that make a difference?

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  159. rlk says:

    philip roth or roger ebert.

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  160. Cassie says:

    John Scalzi

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  161. Jerry Friedrich says:

    I’ll second the David Axelrod choice but I’m not convinced he is smarter than you !!!

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  162. James says:

    Fred Iklé

    James Q. Wilson

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  163. Brian B. says:

    R. Todd Bennett

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  164. Shana says:

    John List

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  165. Jacob Kosoff says:

    John Ashcroft

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  166. Dmitri Leybman says:

    Hopefully Barack Obama is not the right answer as he never technically attended the University of Chicago. He was merely a prof there at the law school.

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  167. Angela says:

    Philip Roth.

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  168. Greg Keranen says:

    Myron Scholes?

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  169. B says:

    Roger Ebert

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  170. Len says:

    William Ayers

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  171. Isra says:

    Did someone already mention Seymour Hersh?

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  172. Greg Keranen says:

    Robert Charles Gallo?

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  173. Dan Glickman says:

    mike nichols
    or second choice larry ellison

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  174. L.P. says:

    Jesse Jackson

    The chicago seminary, right?

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  175. Matt Megarry says:

    Al Gore? or did he go to Harvard?

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  176. Laura Young says:

    Deirdre McCloskey

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  177. Booth 2011 says:

    Larry Ellison

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  178. Karl H says:

    John Paul Stevens?

    Bob Lucas?

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  179. Tom from Wisconsin says:

    Unanswerable. Since you are not that famous, that means the possible range of correct answers is rather large. But more important, since I have no real knowledge of how intelligent you are, and likely no real way to objectively judge how intelligent the person in question is, there is no way to tell if the individual you have in mind is “a whole lot smarter.”

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  180. Haragan says:

    Donald/Deidre McClosky

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  181. fp says:

    Henry Bienen

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  182. Michael says:

    Ed Asner…

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  183. Frank says:

    My guess is Arnold Harberger, who, according to Wikipedia, was an economics adviser to Pinochet.

    BTW, aren’t criteria 3, 4 and, especially, 5 normative, as opposed to positive, statements?

    F

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  184. Ana says:

    I have a problem with #2 in your criteria. Of course the person is alive. How else can you run into him/her? That having been said, was it Robert Bork?

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  185. Craig Berger says:

    Sherry Lansing

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  186. TerriS says:

    Ed Asner

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  187. Pankaj Agarwal says:

    Richard H Thaler?

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  188. Irene says:

    Gary Becker all the way!

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  189. Nitin rao says:

    James D Watson

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  190. Stephen says:

    Is this a clever way of saying you found Jesus?

    To be official: Jesus?

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  191. Stromberg says:

    Richard Epstein

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  192. Ralph says:

    Deirdre McCloskey!

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  193. Ariel says:

    Paul Samuelson?

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  194. David says:

    Daniel Levin? If not him, then it’s gotta be John Ashcroft.

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  195. lastexposfan says:

    A few possibilities:

    John Ashcroft, J.D.’67
    Robert H. Bork, A.B.’48, J.D.’53
    Jon S. Corzine, M.B.A.’73
    Jesse Jackson, ’67
    John Paul Stevens, A.B.’41
    Paul Wolfowitz, Ph.D.’72

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  196. Johan Urh says:

    Barack Obama

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  197. michael Lazar says:

    Paul Wolfowitz?

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  198. Marilyn Delson says:

    Antonin Scalia.

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  199. Marilyn Delson says:

    Seymour Hersh.

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  200. Health Plan Veteran says:

    Jamie Dimon

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  201. Knight Coolidge says:

    Anna schwartz?

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  202. Rudy says:

    Andres Galarraga?

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  203. Dave says:

    Ben Stein

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  204. dan says:

    Robert Bork or John Paul Stevens

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  205. Tim S says:

    Matthew Gentzkow?

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  206. Edward says:

    Bernie Sanders

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  207. FF says:

    Ivan W.???

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  208. jaydee says:

    Marilu Henner?

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  209. jaydee says:

    Laura Ingraham?

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  210. William G says:

    Levitt didn’t really meet anyone. He just wants to know where the mindshare is at. After all, who can be more famous than Steven Levitt? (just kidding, of course)

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  211. Amy says:

    James Watson

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  212. KP says:

    Thomas J. J. Altizer

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  213. Mike Waugh says:

    Bret Stephens

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  214. pete sanchez says:

    either Pete Sanchez, or Richard Posner…

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  215. Lori says:

    Pete Peterson????

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  216. Pablo says:

    It’s Cass Sunstein? He satisfy all five of this criteria.

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  217. Janice says:

    Ramsey Clark!

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  218. Jeff says:

    Richard Posner

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  219. Janice says:

    or, if it’s a woman – Georgiana Simpson

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  220. David says:

    Ramsey Clark

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  221. notmelbrooks says:

    mel brooks

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  222. Walter says:

    Arnold the Governator?

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  223. ryan parks says:

    James D. Watson the famous molecular biologist.

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  224. Ailuridae says:

    Liz Cheney. its amusing that Levitt considers the that the third Item in his list narrows the field substantially from the first two.

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  225. Truthseeker1 says:

    James Ho

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  226. Josh says:

    Barack Obama…although he was an instructor there. Do you count that as attending?

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  227. Tiff L says:

    John Ashcroft

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  228. Tiff L says:

    Roger Ebert

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  229. VK says:

    Eugene Fama

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  230. Yael says:

    Richard Posner or Leonard Kass

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  231. Adam says:

    David Brooks

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  232. Spoonman says:

    Myron Scholes

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  233. Earl Rosenbloom says:

    Philip Roth

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  234. TRad says:

    String – or nothing!

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  235. Michael says:

    This exercise makes me happy and even more proud to be an alumnus of U of C.

    However, having known Tucker Max in Hyde Park, I’m disappointed that anyone thinks that he fits #3.

    I’d guess Axelrod.

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  236. J says:

    Thomas Sowell

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  237. Lee S says:

    Robert Bork

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  238. UofCalum says:

    Ed Asner? lol

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  239. Austin says:

    John Lott

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  240. M says:

    Allie the prostitute. Did she happen to go to school there and perhaps you didn’t interview her? For some reason she popped in my head.

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  241. tuna says:

    nate silver

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  242. Jacques Delpla says:

    Paul Samuelson. He meets all 5 criteria and I guess you have never met him before

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  243. tuna says:

    greg palast

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  244. tuna says:

    stephen colbert

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  245. Manuel Vasquez says:

    Saul Alinsky

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  246. Lorina says:

    David Booth?
    Jon Winkelried?
    Rex Sinquefield?

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  247. Kevin in McLean, VA says:

    Daniel Hamermesh.

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  248. Steve says:

    Ramsey Clark
    Robert Ebert
    Philip Glass
    Andrew Greeley
    Sara Paretsky
    David Rockefeller

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  249. donoley says:

    Roger Ebert

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  250. Brit says:

    Cass Sunstein

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  251. nik says:

    Howard Stern?

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  252. deems says:

    sudhir venkatesh

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  253. Chris says:

    Posner?

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  254. Greg says:

    I would guess either Antonin Scalia, who is *definitely* more notorious/controversial than you, and, honestly, roughly half the people on this list.

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  255. Dave says:

    Paul Wolfowitz

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  256. Stan Hansen says:

    Steven, you have six criteria. The first one is “whom I’ve never met…” Given that you are prominent in UofC circles, I think that the typical UofC people would be ruled out. My guess is Roger Ebert. I would say he is the only one that would be “a whole lot more famous” than you.

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  257. Miguel says:

    Would that be David Rockefeller? Id go for that option, although from your LSE podcast you seem to admire Gary Becker (that would make him qualify for #3 of your requirements).

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  258. Miguel says:

    There are 6 criteria… It pays to read slowly… On that basis, Id go for David Rockefeller.

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  259. Haha! says:

    Bill Ayers.

    1. He/she attended the University of Chicago.
    2. He/she is still alive.
    3. He/she is a whole lot smarter than I am.
    4. He/she is a whole lot more famous than I am.
    5. He/she is even more controversial/notorious than I am.

    I would dispute 3 but academics tend to underestimate their own intelligence. On 5, really only person I could think off who could top the comments on abortion and crime and based on public reaction (which says something about the public), criticising Global Warmingism Expertology.

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  260. Karl says:

    Ronald Coase

    Karl

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  261. J. Daniel Wright says:

    Paul Samuelson

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  262. mark-b says:

    Myron Scholes

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  263. Chris says:

    James Watson

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  264. Conor says:

    Indiana Jones

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  265. LoafingOaf says:

    Why do people keep saying Susan Sontag, who is dead!

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  266. LoafingOaf says:

    Look how many names are being listed. So many people who could be smarter, more notorious, and more famous than you!

    It looks like the people who satisfy all five of the criteria is kinda large for the Univeristy of Chicago…..

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  267. Adam Bennett says:

    Nate Silver.

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  268. E. Farbenblum says:

    John Paul Stevens

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  269. Zachary Evans says:

    Boba Fett

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  270. Bud S. says:

    I only checked a few pages, but I don’t see Milton Friedman!!!!

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  271. MM says:

    JP Stevens

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  272. Chin Siong says:

    Emily Oster

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  273. William G says:

    When do we get to find out who this is?

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  274. Pablo says:

    Milton Friedman died in 2006.

    Professor Levitt, what it is? The Quiz is still open?

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  275. Chris says:

    Larry Ellison. Eric Bogosian!

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  276. FM says:

    President Obama

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  277. Paul N. says:

    Richard Thaler

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  278. Sam Spade says:

    Okay, it’s been long enough, where’s my schwag?

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  279. K__ says:

    Donald Johanson

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  280. happyjuggler0 says:

    Ok, I am pretty sure I speak for 99 44/`00% of the posters in this thread. Did someone win yet, or not? Please tell us either way.

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  281. Ted says:

    Well, I don’t see an answer, so without commenting on #3, and in the interest of trying to end this thing, I’ll take some random stabs in the dark:

    David Broder
    David Brooks
    Robert Bork
    Ahmed Chalabi (Ha, ha … just kidding)
    Ramsey Clark
    Bernie Sanders
    Donald Johanson

    That’s all I got. If this doesn’t work, I’m going to just link to the wikipedia page next.

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  282. Amy says:

    Rush Limbaugh

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  283. Joe says:

    Larry Ellison

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  284. madeline says:

    Deirdre McCloskey?

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  285. Quiz Master says:

    This puzzle is a little too obscure for me, I’m guessing that none of the responses so far go it?

    Maybe a hint is needed :)

    Andy

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  286. Ted says:

    Okay, I’m gonna give this another go. I can’t remember all the guesses so far, so there are probably a few repeats.

    These are starting to stretch the constraints pretty far.

    Mike Nicols
    Robert Gallo
    Eugene Fama
    George Shultz
    Lisa Brown
    Harry Markowitz
    Thomas Frank
    Gordon Crovitz
    Anne Allison
    Anne Norton
    Paul Samuelson
    Carol Braun
    Ed Asner
    John Merriwether
    Tucker Max
    George Steiner
    Elaine May
    Mary Ann Glendon

    Okay, that’s enough guesses for now. I give up.

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  287. michelle says:

    this sounds like a trick question, if Henry IV asked this, anyone who answered would have probably been tossed to the tower of london.

    how would you feel if you found out a graduate student of yours really thinks that Tucker Max is smarter than you, along with all the other (omnipotent)esque qualities.

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  288. Jung says:

    James D. Watson

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  289. Ted says:

    Michelle @287:

    No, it’s trickier than that. We have to guess who we think *Steven* thinks is smarter than him. And more famous, and more notorious, etc.

    It’s tough … do you pick someone who is very old? (He/she is still alive.) Someone, like Myron Scholes, who is perhaps notorious (thanks to the bad day derivatives have had) even if you couldn’t pick him out of a line-up? Do you particularly pick economics folks, or avoid them assuming Steven has already met them?

    But yeah … Tucker Max is probably a long shot. But he did go to Duke Law School, so who knows? Steven didn’t say liking the person was a criteria. And Mike Nichols, another long shot? He’s married to Diane Sawyer, and Steven just appeared on Good Morning America…

    Yeah, yeah, I know … I’m getting desperate here. Soon I’m going to start making up names. Or redefining “famous” to mean “names I can spell.”

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