A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says, "Lets smash the can open with a rock." The chemist says, "Let’s build a fire and heat the can first." The economist says, "Let’s assume that we have a can-opener..."
(attributed to) Paul Samuelson
I have a confession. I love economics jokes, the cornier the better. The strange part is that I’m not alone in this. There are a number of great websites full of economics jokes. A google search comes up with over 13,000 hits. The one above comes from one of the sites that helped get me through my PhD. When a group of economists get together it doesn’t take too long before somebody begins cracking jokes, we seem to need to laugh. Some are inside jokes, while others are self depreciating. The cartoon posted with Sunday’s blog entry is a great example, sent to me by another economist.
This got me thinking. What are jokes about other social sciences or scientists? I’ve never heard a sociologist crack a sociology joke, or a political scientist crack a poli sci joke before, though I've heard both crack economics jokes. Enter good ole google again. A search for +”sociologist jokes” turns up only 8 eight hits. +”political scientist jokes” jokes returns no hits, and +”political science jokes” only 10 hits. I was floored. Do members of other disciplines have the sense of humour removed in some mystic rite after their comps or defence?
Two possible, and very different, explanations come to mind. 1) Economics and economists are in such a position of comfort and security that they can make jokes about themselves without fear of “losing face”. Other social sciences aren’t in that comfortable position. (This was suggested by a colleague). 2) Economics (the dismal science) is uncomfortable with itself and is likely to be the subject of derision and scorn, thus makes light of itself as a defence mechanism.
The second explanation makes a little more sense to me. When you look at number of successful comedians out there, the vast majority come from some group that is “outside” in some way. Canadians in the states, people of Jewish faith, African ancestry, Latino, Italian, etc.
By the way, does anybody know any good jokes about other social sciences (new economics jokes are also welcome.)