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The Accidental Economist

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) at age 7
Charles Darwin at age 7; Artist: Ellen Sharples

Gilbert White was an 18th century parson-naturalist who devoted his time studying the interactions within the natural environment of his local parish, Selborne. In retrospect, he can be regarded as today’s amateur ecologist. Notable for his eccentricities (White is rumoured to have played the trumpet to his pet tortoise Timothy), he is also famous for his epistolary, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne. One of his entries marvels at how cattle retire to water during the hot weather, leaving behind dung that then attracts insects to feed the fish – “Thus Nature, who is a great economist, converts the recreation of one animal to the support of another!”

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Becoming a Better Economist

Dr. Oliver Marc Hartwich

Traditional rankings of the least trustworthy professions always deliver the same result. Politicians, taxi drivers and journalists come out on top. However, in the wake of the financial crisis economists can no longer be far behind. At least jokes about hapless economists are not in short supply these days – which to economists is a clear indication that there must be a demand for such ridicule.

My favourite economics joke is about the two Iron Laws of economics. The first law: For every economist there exists an equal and opposite economist. The second: They are both wrong.

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