Words Of Unconventional Wisdom

Freakonomics author Steven Levitt might trace his eccentric approach to economics to some unusual fatherly advice:

[Steven] originally wanted to be a serious economist “like Alan Greenspan”. But his weakness at mathematics, coupled with an unconventional pep talk from his father, led him to concentrate on the, arguably more colorful, peripheries of the subject. In his student days, when Levitt confessed to his parents that he was struggling with his economics course, his father, a doctor in medical research, had these words of comfort: “I have no talent. You have no talent.” Levitt Sr. went on to reveal that when he was starting out he wasn’t considered talented enough to be a medical researcher. So he chose to focus on an area of research that “no self-respecting person” would take on–intestinal gas.

Levitt’s father, now the foremost expert in the field of intestinal gas and even dubbed “the king of farts” by one medical publication, proved an inspiration. Levitt apparently considers himself “the economics equivalent of the king of farts”.