> and on (including work by ICES colleagues)... On balance I would argue that
> Levitt is indeed unusually clever (in the sense that he comes up with good
> questions and also finds interesting natural manipulations to study them),
> but that his particular approach to economic science is not novel: Vernon
> Smith has been using it for decades. - Dan

Correct me if I am wrong, but a big difference between Vernon Smith and
Levitt is that Smith focuses mostly on a single area - experimental econ
with a cognitive focus - while Levitt is a bit more wide ranging in his
interests. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe that's a reason Levitt is so
distinctive. Few people have the cleverness to consistently spot
interesting puzzles and then have the tenacity to find data that can
actually test hypotheses.

Of course, the long term interesting question: will such puzzle solving
lead to greater economic insight? I think so. In mathematics, such puzzle
solvers are good at showing all sorts of cherished ideas are wrong and the
evidence accumulated from such research can force people to think in new
ways. Also, puzzle solvers are good at finding tricks that can be used to
solve other problems. I wouldn't be surprised if Levitt's long term legacy
is like that of Paul Erdos the mathematician who was notorious for solving
goofy problems, but whose solutions forced people to rethink a lot of


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