The Significance of Parrots, or Why Paul Krugman Won a Nobel Prize

Starting next Monday, the various Nobel Prizes will be announced:

The candidates for each prize are carefully vetted, with nominations submitted by university professors of the various disciplines (in the cases of the scientific prizes) and by members of national parliaments (in the case of the Peace prize), as well as past Nobel laureates.

But what sets one person apart from his or her colleagues? How do you judge the differences in excellence, or the impact one person has had on their field that goes beyond all the others? What is it that elevates one person to the rank of Nobel Laureate, and leaves the others out?

Perhaps a blogpost yesterday by Paul Krugman reveals at least part the answer:

Brad DeLong references the old line about economists being nothing but parrots who squawk “supply and demand! supply and demand!”, then argues that they seem to have forgotten even that.

Inexplicably, however, he fails to follow this thought through to its logical conclusion — namely, that economists are ex-parrots. They have gone to meet their maker. They are pushing up the daisies. They have joined the choir invisible.

Clearly, this reveals why Krugman is a Nobel Laureate and DeLong is not. You see, in addition to being able to take the argument one step further than DeLong, Krugman subtly displays yet more depth of knowledge.

For those unfamiliar with the Ur-ex-parrot to which Krugman refers, it is the Norwegian Blue.

Norwegian? Norwegian!?!?

The Nobel committee was obviously aware of Krugman’s knowledge of and appreciation for . . . ahem . . . Scandinavian heritage, as evidenced by the video above.

What I wouldn’t give for the Literature prize to go to John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael “no longer the funniest*” Palin, and Terry Gilliam. (Sadly, posthumous awards are prohibited, so Graham Chapman is ineligible.)

Either them, or TBogg. Satire is far overdue for recognition by the Nobel committee.


* Again with the parrots. Go figure.


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