Bryan Caplan  

My Fake Economist Article

A Nice Statement of My Positio... Why Get an Econ Ph.D?...

As you probably know, I am an openly nerdy man. These days, my nerdiest activity is being the Game Master for a bunch of economists who pretend to be super-heroes. No joke! We use my modified version of the Hero System role-playing game, formerly known as Champions.

For me, much of the fun of role-playing games is dreaming up fantastic mysteries, and giving the players a chance to solve them. Once I get going, I can become a little obsessive. With the help of google images, I cast all my stories with movie stars, living and dead. And... I also write fake news articles about the events in my stories to give the players clues. Which finally gave me my Big Break to write a fake article for the Economist. An imaginary article. A work of fiction. Parody, even.

False modesty aside, all the economists in my group were delighted to see what the Economist had to say about the Siberian Economic Miracle, the Kropotkin Corporation, the White Revolution in Arctic agriculture, and the secession movement in Yakutsk. If you like to think about economics and suspend disbelief at the same time, take a look.

Then tell me: Who is nerdier than I, that I may learn from him?

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COMMENTS (9 to date)
PF writes:

Nerds of the earth--kneel before your king!

Tom West writes:


Swimmy writes:

A friend once explained a method of categorization for the once insulting terms "nerd," "geek," and "dork." A nerd, he explained, is someone with remarkably high intelligence and terrible social skills. They may develop fascination with things commonly associated with nerd culture, like Star Trek or RPGs. (He never explained why; I figure it has something to do with Asperger's Syndrome.) A geek is someone who may have average or high intelligence but develops one or several obsessions with, well, anything that can be obsessed over. (Hence terms like "movie geek.") Geeks may function like everyone else in normal social settings unless you get them to talk about their obsession, in which case they become overly excited and begin talking too much, often to the annoyance of others. A dork is a person who both lacks both intelligence and social skills.

It's a useful enough system, though I don't adhere to it rigorously. By that reckoning, I would be a geek, my obsessions being economics, videogames, and punk rock. I don't believe I can possibly out-nerd you, but I have written dozens and dozens of haikus about Dragon Warrior VII. There's something to be said for that.

Swimmy writes:

Oh yes, I forgot zombies. Never mention 28 Days Later in my presence. The geek's frothing anger cannot be contained.

Patrick writes:

Someone from just quoted your "Who's nerdier than I...". While I applaud the effort to be king, I think I had previously found somebody that went off the deep end... or maybe he just has to much free time :)

I had been looking for a way to improve my maps for my own campaign when I came across this link - - which has quite alot of information. What stunned me however is that he has at least 10 different languages he's created & detailed (6 to 63 printed pages for each!). And here I thought those who spoke Klingon fluently had to much time.

I think I'll toss my campaign in the recycle bin & go hide in a cave somewhere =D

Scott Scheule writes:

Earthbound and Dragon Warrior VII? Swimmy, you're the man!

Kent G. Budge writes:

I note that they are now selling a commemorative 25th anniversary edition of Champions.

I feel old.

My favorite Champions character was named Dr.Z. He was a mutant with quantum powers. For example, he could deflect incoming projectiles by transforming himself into a Feynmann diagram. Out-nerd that.

There is an enlightening article on the link between Aspberger's and nerdiness at

Alex J. writes:

David Friedman might have you. He was once King of the Society for Creative Anachronism and publishes a cookbook of recipes from the middle ages. He can recite Norse sagas from memory and hosts a part of a national meeting of the SCA where everyone stays in character all of the time.

Oh, and his father is Milton Friedman.

Swimmy writes:

Scott Scheule: It takes a rare breed to enjoy DWVII. For the typical JRPG fan, it's far too long and involved. For the PCRPG fan, it doesn't offer nearly enough options for genuine role-playing. In other words, the perfect game.

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