Opportunity cost

I then wrote to a number of well-known philosophers, asking each of them if they would supervise a course-by-mail, consisting of my writing letters to them about their work, getting responses from them, and ultimately providing comments on a paper I wrote. Nancy Cartwright, Lynne Rudder Baker and Nathan Oaklander agreed to do this for me. They were all extremely generous with their time, and I owe all three of them, along with Quentin, an enormous debt.

That is from LA Paul, who has since become a very accomplished philosopher.  How many economists would help out in the same way?  Hat tip goes to Kieran Healy.


Only because I had just read it yesterday in the CSWEP newsletter, in the note by Shoshana Grossbard:

"When I needed such a program it had not yet started. About twenty years ago, I organized my own mentoring program and appointed six wonderful and extremely accomplished economists to a virtual board of editors: Gary Becker, Clive Granger, Jim Heckman, Jack Hirshleifer, Edward Lazear, and Jacob Mincer. Luckily, they all accepted my invitation... I would send my mentors reports about my work about every six months and they often responded with encouraging words. In 2001, when I wrote the ReHo proposal and sent it to them, all six mentors agreed to serve on the board of editors, a tremendous boost. sadly, three out of the six have passed away since ReHo was founded."


Year your are lucky right there those 3 people wanna help you out, looking forward to read what is gonne come out of it :)

I had to wonder what the voice of Bart Simpson could offer in the way of philosophical insight. I get it now.

I would expect economists to agree to such an arrangement for an appropriate compensation, unless they were contractually barred from doing such a thing.

"a singular breed of scholar-teacher-critic-prose-poet-­pamphleteer, as deeply versed in the baroque aestheticism of Pater and Wilde as in the categorized intricacies of the kabbalah and Freud, and thoroughly steeped in several centuries’ worth of English and American poetry, acres of it committed to memory."

Well, not THAT singular. That's pretty much a description of Borges, who was both a better reader and writer than Bloom. I guess I have a vicarious anxiety of influence...

Whoops, wrong post.

I did a similar thing during my masters in economics and a couple of professors from Australia and the UK, who I had never met but simply read their work, provided very detailed feedback for me on some of my work. I was really surprised at how much time they spent helping an unknown student on some very technical tasks.

So I guess even economists aren't rational? Or maybe they actually do love their work and want as many other involved in their field as possible - the bigger the field, the more bigger the rewards for those at the top og the field.

I don't think there's a problem with rationality. Being asked to be a mentor tickles the ego. That is reward enough for almost anyone.

It sounds incredibly inefficient, but these days with blogs, it could be incredibly efficient.

While I was working on my dissertation in economics, I emailed a number of fairly well-known anthropologists out of the blue to ask about some of the anthro literature that related to what I was working on. I was shocked to find that almost all of them got back to me fairly quickly with well thought out and helpful responses. By contrast, economists (even not-so-well-known ones) that I emailed out of the blue with similar kinds of questions would usually never get back to me at all... including professors in my own department. There's definitely a very different culture in that respect in other disciplines.

When a friend of mine was working on his PhD thesis he wrote for some methodological clarifications to an economist who had used similar methodology. The professor wrote a long letter complaining about people who "pester" him and that he has his own grad students so there is no question of him spending time for other students. The joke was that in the time he took to write that stuff he could have clarified my friend's doubt --- like a psychology professor did, in just 10 lines!

This can't happen because there is no consideration going to the economics mentors.

Markets don't work that way.

End of story.

Or, perhaps, this shows there is altruism.


Or it shows that there are not yet markets in everything, as they say.

There are other possibilities. I did some mentoring. I did it because my advisor asked me to and I was a dumbass who didn't know that an untenured professor has near zero willingness or ability to return favors.

What you show, then, is that markets aren't perfect if there are dumbasses in it

Anyway, I'm sure that someone appreciated your efforts.

Take a bow..

Hmm, it probably depends on how much unsolicited e-mail like this you get.

My fairly obscure specialization of cryptography means that I almost never get any requests like that; that is why I am usually ready to reply.

If I got 2-3 per day, I wouldn't be that ready. If I got 10, I would hide myself from the world.

A new source for the term "dismal science" -- or perhaps it should be "scientist".

I said in my comment that a psychology professor could answer a PhD student's question on a particular methodology in ten lines. I forgot to add that the psychology prof started his mail as follows: " I cannot do better than to reproduce these lines from the published version of a lecture by X " . X was the very same economist who wrote the long and nasty mail refusing to offer help!!
It is tempting to say that the economist's opportunity cost of lending a helping hand was higher. But not in this case: the opportunity cost of typing a long mail is higher than the cost of copying and pasting a passage like the psychologist did.

Mathoverflow (http://mathoverflow.net) is interesting in this context. There, people ask questions about research-level mathematics, and they usually get good answers. Many of the people asking questions are graduate students, and many of the people answering are professors, although in some cases it is the other way around. Part of the reason why it works is that everyone who uses the site has a reputation score, which increases when they ask good questions or give good answers. Personally I find it entertaining to build my score, and I imagine that that is quite common, although some people insist that they don't care about it or that they actively dislike it.

I like it very much, thank you

This shows which they last very much lengthier and thus saving you income which could otherwise are actually utilized to purchase new ones.

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