Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Does "economist" mean something different in Britain?

At the BBC's "Who Runs Your World?" game you can pick a team of 11 "leaders", "thinkers", and "economists" to run the world. But the first "economists" listed are Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and George Soros. This makes me think that "economist" means "businessman" in Britain (witness my cultural ignorance) but they also list Joseph Stiglitz and Steven Levitt (bona fide economists). Does the conflation of economics and business seriously bother anyone else?

By the way, my list has Bill Clinton, Joe Stiglitz, the Dalai Lama, Amartya Sen, Hernando de Soto, Alan Greenspan, Nelson Mandela, Steve Levitt, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods. You can see I was struggling. But officially I think this is ridiculous.

3 Comments:

Blogger Isaac said...

It's not that economist has a different meaning, it's that the popular meaning in both the U.S. and England is different than what it means to you (anyone good with money, sort of). Though English economists seem more likely to spend time in industry than do american economists.

Also: Bill Gates is an economist in so far as he clearly understands some aspect of the economy. Also, if you read A. Michael Spence's nobel autobiography, you discover that he took graduate micro. and received an A....

1:49 PM  
Blogger Isaac said...

I really can't find 11 people there that I truly admire. Hmm...

1:55 PM  
Blogger henry said...

Well everyone understands some aspect of the economy. If that is how "economist" is defined popularly it's not particularly useful.

But it does annoy me that people think I'm going into business when I tell them I want to be an economist.

5:33 PM  

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