When It Comes to Awards

A friend of mine received three prestigious academic awards in the same year.  I asked him, “Wouldn’t you have been happier getting them in separate years? After all, the marginal utility of an award probably is decreasing within a particular period of time. So wouldn’t getting these awards in separate years have increased your lifetime utility?” 

He said that my observation was probably correct.  However, he was so surprised to receive even one of them, and the increase in his happiness was so great, that he just wasn’t able to think in this narrow economic way. I guess there are occasions (probably very few!) where even simple economics isn't 100 percent relevant.

An Economist on the Oscars

The “best” picture of 2012 was Argo

At least that’s the film that won the Oscar for best picture.  According to the Oscars, the decision to give this award to Argo was made by the nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As Oscars.org notes, “the Academy numbers among its members the most gifted and skilled artists and craftsmen in the motion picture world.”

In other words, this choice is made by the “experts.”

There is, though, another group that we could have listened to on Sunday night.  That group would be the people who actually spend money to go to the movies.  According to that group, Marvel’s the Avengers was the “best” picture in 2012. With domestic revenues in excess of $600 million, this filmed earned nearly $200 million more than any other picture. And when we look at world-wide revenues, this film brought in more than $1.5 billion.

Thanks for the Stitcher Award!

Freakonomics Radio, which recently celebrated its 100th episode, got a piece of happy news the other day: a Stitcher Award. Thanks to Stitcher and to everyone who voted, and thanks especially to our amazing production team: Suzie LechtenbergKatherine WellsDavid HermanBourree LamCollin Campbell, and Chris Bannon. Congrats also to all the other winners. It is amazing how much talent and great content is floating around in the podcast pool these days.

Please Submit Your Nominations for a Freakonomics Hall of Fame (and Hall of Shame, Too)

We are working on a Hall of Fame project that will pay tribute to people who have used a "freakonomical" way of thinking to better the world in some way large or small. Since a lot of people have a lot of interpretations of what it means to "think like a Freak," we will leave the criteria up to you. It may have something to do with a creative use of data, or understanding incentives, or challenging the conventional wisdom.

The person you nominate for this Hall of Fame might be prominent or totally obscure. You may know them personally or perhaps you've only read about them. They might work in academia, sports, medicine, philanthropy, entertainment, development -- or even politics!

We have tried to feature such people on the blog over the years but now we need your help in coming up with the best pool possible. Please send this request to everyone you know!

Esther Duflo Wins John Bates Clark Medal

The award is given to the most influential economist in America under age 40.

Why We Love to Hate Awards

Obama expressed his disappointment recently when rapper Kanye West stormed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards to protest singer Taylor Swift's win of the “Best Female Video” trophy. Soon after, Obama himself was Swifted by critics who felt he was undeserving of his Nobel Prize win. This process is “not wildly out of character with how awards generally work,” writes Jonathan Chait at The New Republic.

"The Briefest Abstract Award" Goes to …

Is this the only academic paper ever written where the total number of letters of the abstract (36) is less than the number of letters in either the title (42) or the authors' names (46)?

Esther Duflo Is Now Officially a Genius

Congratuations to MIT economist Esther Duflo who brings home a MacArthur Genius grant!

Tougher to Get Than a Nobel Prize in Economics

The University of Chicago likes to brag about its Nobel laureates. Well, my son's kindergarten teacher Christina Hayward pulled off a feat that is far tougher statistically than winning the Nobel prize: she took one of ten Golden Apple awards given annually to the most outstanding Chicago-area teachers.

Roland Fryer Makes Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential List

Some first-grade classrooms perform “Acknowledgments,” wherein children sit in a circle and take turns publicly praising a classmate for some good or wise act. Bloggers can do this too. Here is the first of three Acknowledgments you’ll read on this blog today. It is with great pride that I report that my good friend Roland […]