Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nobelists Generally Quite Clear

A Nobel prize winning mind should at least have a good command of language, of seeing the major point, and making a clear argument. Thus, I appreciated this little tiff in the University of Chicago paper between James Heckman, who won a Nobel for his econometric work, and John Cochrane, who is probably one of the 10 best (ie, most actively cited) finance professors alive. Heckman noted he was agreeable to suggestions they rename the proposed 'Milton Friedman Institute', which, if I were giving money, would be a deal breaker, because if you are that ashamed of the name 'Milton Friedman', then it is clear the funding will devolve into the standard littany of trendy academic pursuits, unrelated to Friedman. Secondly, Heckman suggested that the University President was moving the Friedman institute too quickly, presumably, dismissing all the leftists in the Chicago Academy who see 'free minds and free markets' as a codeword for fascism and repression.

Cochrane noted
My strong, personal suggestion is that you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into public statements that you will regret. Now, not only is Friedman’s name expendable, the GSB political, but President Zimmer ’rushed this through.’ He’ll be delighted to see that in print. You may have long, convoluted explanations, but that won’t do much good when this sort of thing gets out.

Heckman responded (via email)
Screw off, John


Anonymous said...

Pretty sure the Chicago Maroon isn't the same thing as NYTimes.

Eric Falkenstein said...

oops. Corrected. It was commented upon by Levitt in the NYT.

Anonymous said...

Cochrane is pretty nice guy. Heckman is a dick. Nothing else to add.