Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Robert Frank is interested in dumb blondes

Update: To be frank, there might be another explanation. Look
Here, here
Diane Sawyer seems to think only 3000 US servicemen have died in Iraq

I'm not sexist at all.

Oddly, I think that Frank is too interested in standard economic theory here, that is too inclined to assume that people are rational with simple desires (money and blondes roughly).

Basically he assumes "blonde" stands for beautiful and that beautiful women (and studly men aka dumb jocks) don't bother learning much because they don't have too and are thus rationally ignorant but not dumb.

His post is brilliant, of course, and it is very odd to complain about the conventionality of an economist whose raw data is a google search for dumb blonde jokes, but I expect even more unconventionality from Frank, and, besides, I have an alternative theory.

I ask "why are point guards and tailbacks short ?" I think the first point is that they aren't except compared to centers and linebackers. Only in the context of the NFL and the NBA are speed and agility strongly negatively correlated with height. In the NBA there are the quick and the tall (and once upon a time Magic). The reason that relatively large players are relatively slow is that, even though speed and height are positively correlated, no one is in the top 0.00002 % of both distributions (I think that 0.00002 % of US residents play in the NBA).

Similarly, I think impressions of blondes, athletes and smart people are disproportionally based on the extreme elite of the beautiful, athletic and brilliant (the last mostly via wealth and power). Within the ultra elite, brains and beauty are negatively correlated, because one makes it into the ultra elite by being extraordinary in some way, and few people are extraordinary in two ways.

Consider Maralyn Monroe, She was the second smartest person in the Monroe-Miller marriage (and Joe DiMaggio was, at best, her second smartest husband) because there had to be some reason why a nerdy looking guy like Arthur Miller made it into the trio of Miller, Monroe and DiMaggio.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Robert Frank can be a real jerk, for this is not the only time. Yuch.

anne

Anonymous said...

Yes; I am annoyed at the Robert Frank smug-ness which is typical and dumb speaking of dumb stereotyping.

anne

Anonymous said...

Frank, I remember, wrote about polygamy in Africa some while ago, with not even a hint of how pernicious the institution has become, not a mention of AIDS in relation. Also, Cornell economics I have found is not a student friendly department, beyond sex and hair color. Figures. So there.

anne