Bryan Caplan  

The Most Meaningful Compliments You Ever Received

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What are the most meaningful compliments you ever received? Here's my short list:

1. When Robin Hanson told me that I'm his "favorite person to talk to."

2. When Thomas Szasz wrote me that this paper "gave me more pleasure than you can imagine."

3. When Donald Wittman wrote that:

A common complaint by authors is that their reviewers have misinterpreted what the author has said. This is not my complaint here, because Bryan Caplan has explained my position better than I have.

4. When Philip Tetlock wrote me that "this is the smartest review of my book I've yet seen."

5. When Pete Boettke named me as a candidate to be the next Julian Simon.

How about you?


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COMMENTS (16 to date)
david writes:

When a colleague pointed to this post and told me that Brian Caplan was an even bigger ego maniac than I am.

dearieme writes:

When a student told me "You've certainly taught me to spell 'baloney'".

Tim Lundeen writes:

LOL!

A subtle way of patting yourself on the back :-)

BTW, The Myth of the Rational Voter made it to the top of my queue yesterday and I am enjoying it immenseley!

Robert Scarth writes:

'2. When Thomas Szasz wrote me that this paper "gave me more pleasure than you can imagine."'

Maybe he was saying you don't have much of an imagination... ;-)

I don't know what the best compliment I have received is, but I know that one of the best compliments I could give is: "I disagree with you, but you've made me think"

Blink writes:

These are very nice complements. I am surprised by the lack of examples from relatives, though. (Would “You’re the best daddy ever!” make the list for many people, or “I’m proud of you” from a parent?) So what holds this group apart from the many accolades you probably receive on a daily basis? I see a couple of possibilities:

1. All of the examples come from your professional life (at least tangentially) and, probably, the last third of your life.
2. The source of the compliment appears to be at least as important as the content: a trusted/respected individual or someone which high relative status.
3. Each compliment is focused and memorable (perhaps because it is focused).
4. The comments probably provided a satisfying moment of surprise, as none could be deemed necessary from the narrow perspective of advancing a conversation.

Perhaps a complement is more meaningful when it recognizes accomplishment in an area where we are insecure. Perhaps, Bryan, you could follow up with a list of the best compliments you have ever given.

SheetWise writes:

An esteemed friend privately noted that I was the only person he knew that "got" all of his jokes. Very funny guy. Lot's of people didn't know.

John writes:

1. When the wife of a professor that I had taken several classes with (who also happened to be a professor at my college) told me that her husband "raved" about me and my papers and that he rarely if ever does that.

2. Last summer, when, after staying late to finish a project during an investment banking internship, the person who I completed it for called me up and thanked me for staying late to finish it up since it was getting sent out to a client soon. It made me feel like a part of the team even though the work itself was pretty mindless.

3. When my AP English teacher in 11th grade gave me high grades and fantastic comments on a summer assignment that we had to have finished by the start of school.

Ironman writes:

"I don't want anyone else from ****** to work on this problem. I want you because you'll actually fix it."

"Your work made this the smoothest major new product introduction ever in company history."

"Your design failed exactly as predicted."

Yes, I'm in a very different line of work. By the way, when will you list the best insults you've ever received?

Jeff H. writes:

I am 23 years old is my only answer to that question.

Jayson Virissimo writes:

"Wow...you said exactly what he said, but without all the bullshit. Now I actually understand it!"
One of the best compliments I ever received.

Marc A Cohen writes:

All through high school and college, I was a very serious competitve boxer and martial artist. Seven days before my 21st birthday, my best friend and I travelled half way across the country to fight in a tournament. Afterwards I was asked to put on a martial arts demonstration. The audience was all black belt level, nationally competitive athletes. My friend was in the audience, and overheard the woman in front of him say to her husband about me "Wow! THAT guy is f**king GOOD!"

Ryan F. writes:

When someone pointed out to me that I am more conceeded than Bryan Caplan...

Matt writes:

When I was in college, I worked in a mostly-manual-labor job at a seasonal concert venue. The second summer I worked there, my boss told me that the new hires were getting paid a lower starting wage than the previous year so that they'd be able to pay me more. That was nice to hear.

8 writes:

Probably the time God admitted the Earth would be way cooler if he had made monkey piranas.

Snark writes:

It's been said that compliments are simply transactions in an economy of goodwill (ie. you get what you pay for), suggesting that some compliments received could be construed as false positives. How do we control for this? Caveat Emptor!

It's clear, however, that Bryan doesn't have to control for false modesty.

Erin writes:

The time that my friend said that most food is improved by bacon, but if I were wrapped in bacon, I would improve the bacon.

Not very intellectual, but awesome, nevertheless.

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