Roads to Wisdom, Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics

Roads to Wisdom, Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics

Karen Ilse Horn

Karen Horn’s remarkable interviews with ten Nobel Laureates explore the conditions required for scientific progress by navigating the ‘roads to wisdom’ in economic science.

Chapter 11: Vernon L. Smith

Karen Ilse Horn

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA Reprinted with kind permission of Bernd Kramer. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2002 shared with Daniel Kahnemann ‘for having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms’. INTRODUCTION We’re supposed to meet in the lobby of the Westward Look Hotel in Tucson, Arizona. It’s the only hotel that I know here; I had once been there for a seminar, and so I’ve taken residence there once again. ‘The Westward Look is my favorite spot in Tucson anyway’, Vernon L. Smith had written in an email, and so it was decided. A little before 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, a hot, muggy day coming up, I’m downstairs, looking out for the 80-year-old with the legendary pony tail. But nobody’s there who matches this description. I wander around, venturing out in the driveway, coming back in, out and around the pool. Half an hour goes by. Finally a man, perhaps in his sixties, with short dark blonde hair, slim and trim, dressed in tight jeans and a red Hawaiian shirt, rises from one of the couches and comes over to me. ‘Are you Karen?’ Yes – and, unbelievable but true, he is Vernon L. Smith. He had been there all the while. ‘But where’s your pony 221 222 Roads to wisdom, conversations with ten Nobel Laureates in economics tail?’ I ask in a tone of reproach, apologizing immediately....

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