Science Fiction made Krugman an Economist

The New Yorker’s profile on Paul Krugman in March quoted Krugman as saying that he became an economist because he read Asimov as a boy. For Krugman, the key is that science fiction delves into the “why” and the “what if” about humanity and society in a way other genres do not. Ask those two questions, and new realms of possibility open up. Here is my question: would China be more innovative if more kids here read science fiction? Or could Chinese society tolerate the disruption of millions of young people asking “what if” and “why?”

Posted via web from Silicon Hutong on Posterous


The “why” of the world. Mmm. Recalling an article that appeared in the NYTimes magazine about a son tracing the footsteps of his gambling father. No surprise, but it leads him to Las Vegas where he encounters old cohorts of his Dad named “Lefty”, “Louie”, “Flathead”, and other assorted colorful nom de pari. One memorable line told to him by one of these rough and tumble characters: “Kid. I don’t care two bits for the “why” of the world. What I care about is the “what” and how I am going to get mine.”

Since then I have learned the world can be pretty much divided up into two camps. How you define them strictly depends upon what you want to get out of life. There are the “whys” and the “whats”, alternatively called the “straight shooters” and the “angle players”, or if you will: “suckers” and “bankers”.

Krugman’s foundation in “why” leads him astray when it comes to defining the “what”.