Halls of fame

At about the same time economists were publishing their AER’s hall of fame, the team that brought the Google n-gram viewer published their own version of a hit-parade: an all-time, all-discipline scientists’ ranking. Success is counted in milli-Darwins (mD), and measures the frequency of citation in a corpus representing 4% of all the books ever printed:


In the first 200 names, where are the economists?

John von Neumann (137mD), and Harold Hotelling (27mD), if you want. But that’s cheating. As far as I could see, the only economist by training cited in the first 200 is Herman Daly (48mD). Certainly a surprise to me (not a bad one), and a motive for thought about the cultural imprint of economics!

(btw: is it a coincidence that Hotelling, like Herman Daly, is also a contributor to the study of the finiteness of natural resources?)


  1. Well, I wouldn’t consider von Neumann and Hotelling as cheating: they were not trained economists (and if we stick to this criteria, very few would be eligible), but seriously worked in economics. In the same vein, I’d add to the list the names of Simon Newcomb, Richard Bellman, David Gale, Maurice Allais, Herman Wold, and George Dantzig (perhaps also Bruno De Finetti?), all featured in the list. What is striking, though, is to see all these mathematical economists in the list, and having no other “economist” besides Herman Daly… No Keynes, no Friedman, no Samuelson, no Marshall, no Smith, no Galbraith (and even not RAMSEY!!). Very curious indeed this ranking!

  2. Not sure about all those names which Pedro has added, but I’m pretty confident we can count polymath Michael Polyani (99mD) as an economist as well.

    That said, it’s quite a fun little tool, but I probably wouldn’t go over-board. Fascinated to see Bertrant Russell eclipsing Darwin, and Herman Daly’s high citation mark may have a lot to do with his public profile on top of his scholarly achievment. No Friedman, Hume or Smith – interesting…

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