A Tech-Econ Mashup with a Libertarian Flavor

Ignoring Comparitive Advantage

This question came up on Slashdot over the weekend:

“My niece just took the ACT and got a perfect score on the math section. 25 years ago, when I took the test, the kids who aced the math section were pretty special. Her score, combined with straight A’s so far in high school, suggest to me that she might be able to go to a top university (MIT?) based on her math aptitude. The rub is that she doesn’t like math or science, even though she finds them easy. She doesn’t want to be an engineer or scientist. I thought the folks here would be a great group to ask: What are some creative, not too nerdy professions that nonetheless require a talent for math, engineering, or science?”

My $0.02: economics, of course!

The question resonates with my own experience. When I was in high school, English class was always an easy A. I scored a perfect 36 on the Language/English section of the ACT exam, and while I also did well on the math and science sections, my scores certainly didn’t indicate that I was MIT material. Anyway, despite (apparently) being an articulate young adult, I’d never had any aspirations to put my 99th-percentile comparative advantage in language to use vocationally (and some of you who know me well enough know that these days I tend to think of myself as verbally stunted). I dread writing speeches, and I haven’t read a novel in years.

I entered college intending to pursue computer science, which I did for almost four years and was left unfulfilled (although it wasn’t all for naught; I got hella geek-points for my trouble). Following a short hiatus, I returned to school to study economics, a subject I’ve come to love with unmatched enthusiasm. Econ is both quantitative and analytical, without a doubt, although the most widely-recognized economists hold in common the ability to use words effectively to communicate their ideas – think Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, or Paul Krugman. (Might economics be a field that reconciles the “left brain/right brain” split?)

In the last few months, I’ve decided to jumpstart my long-neglected wordsmithing. I’ve brought my inner verbal ninja out of retirement and have started blogging, which I really enjoy. I’m generally a believer of the idea that we are who we are, we should exploit our natural talents, etc. However, today I’m at a bit of an impasse: I graduate in a mere four weeks, and though I want to pursue graduate study, I’ve ruled out getting a PhD in economics – too mathematical, esoteric even. I’ve actually been kicking around the idea of (gulp) law school, can you believe it?* Hey, aren’t economists among the top scorers on the LSAT?

Of course, adding $100k+ onto my personal debt load isn’t looking too appealing. What other careers would be appropriate for a reformed scientist-turned-economist who has rediscovered her comparative advantage in language? (And don’t say politician…)

*This in no way is an announcement of any plans to attend any type of graduate school.


Filed under: Economics, Science & Technology, , , ,

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Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.
-Mark Twain

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