A comment from an Instaputz post about Public Choice Theory, the Megan McArdle version…

Public choice theory…(is) not really part of economics. It’s basically just right-wing prejudice turned into a theory – the entire intellectual content is in the initial assumption “We assume that all public officials are venial and self-seeking”, and thence to derive the entire right-wing worldview.

…reminds me of my favorite joke to tell among academics.

A chemist, a physicist, and an economist are trapped on a desert island. They have canned food but no tools. To solve the problem, the physicist proposes using sticks and a rock to create a lever and pop the lids off the cans. The chemist suggests heating the cans so the contents will expand and burst them open. The economist criticizes both and says he has a far better plan. He begins, "OK, now assume a can opener…"

## Jason Harx says:

Economist jokes are like the academic version of drummer jokes.

You heard the one about getting rid of the economist on your porch?

## Evan Sultanik says:

I've heard that exact same joke modulo the economist was a mathematician. “Without loss of generality, assume we have a can opener…”

## Mike says:

I see that Chris Mealy beat me to it, but this comment from dsquared is almost perfect:

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Public choice theory I think it’s difficult to blame economists for – a couple of economics Nobel prizes got awarded for it, but it’s not really part of economics. It’s basically just right-wing prejudice turned into a theory – the entire intellectual content is in the initial assumption “1. We assume that all public officials are venial and self-seeking”, and thence to derive the entire right-wing worldview.

Game theory I think you have a lot more of a point with. Phil Mirowski’s book “Machine Dreams” is very good on the development of game theory. He raises the of-course-very-unserious-who-would-possibly-be-so-uncouth point that a) the key game theory concepts like Nash equilibrium describe the reasoning of a paranoid schizophrenic a lot better than that of a normal person and b) a surprisingly high proportion of the key figures in the development of game theory suffered from mental illnesses, and Nash himself was of course an actual paranoid schizophrenic.

Game theory is actually very good in predicting the outcomes of things like telecom spectrum auctions, which of course really means that it is a good way of predicting the behaviour of game theorists employed to solve game theory problems.

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That last paragraph is so good.

## Bakunin says:

Wait, so physicists think cans have lids?