Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Steven E. Landsburg

Steven E. Landsburg is a Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester, where students recently elected him Professor of the Year. He is the author of The Armchair Economist, Fair Play, More Sex is Safer Sex, The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics and Physics, two textbooks in economics, a forthcoming textbook on general relativity and cosmology, and over 30 journal articles in mathematics, economics and philosophy.

Part of a questionnaire he completed for the BBC:

What’s the most important book of all time?

Newton’s Principia of course. Is there another candidate?

What was your first spoken word?

Probably “more”.

What’s your favourite–and least favourite–word?

The great Cambridge economist Joan Robinson was famously delighted by her discovery of the word mumpsimus, for a person who clings stubbornly to an idea that has been thoroughly debunked. That’s a good one, and I have frequent occasion to use it, but in the end I’m rather partial to the word ambisinistrous, meaning left-handed with both hands. My least favourite word is No.

Bookmarks or corner turning?

Corner turning is vandalism and bookmarks are for the weak. It’s actually not that hard to simply remember where you were. I find it helps to factor the page number. If I’m on page 432, I just remember 16 times 27. (Added later: I filled out this questionnaire over a year ago, in the now seemingly ancient days when I was still reading books. Today I don’t need page numbers; my Kindle knows exactly where I left off.)

Skim ...[read on]
Learn more about the book at The Big Questions website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: More Sex is Safer Sex.

The Page 99 Test: The Big Questions.

--Marshal Zeringue