(p. A21) Professor Arrow was widely hailed as a polymath, possessing prodigious knowledge of subjects far removed from economics. Eric Maskin, a Harvard economist and fellow Nobel winner, told of a good-natured conspiracy waged by junior faculty to get the better of Professor Arrow, even if artificially. They all agreed to study the breeding habits of gray whales — a suitably abstruse topic — and gathered at an appointed date at a place where Professor Arrow would be sure to visit.
When, as expected, he showed up, they were talking out loud about the theory by a marine biologist — last name, Turner — which purported to explain how gray whales found the same breeding spot year after year. As Professor Maskin recounted the story, “Ken was silent,” and his junior colleagues amused themselves that they had for once bested their formidable professor.
Well, not so fast.
Before leaving, Professor Arrow muttered, “But I thought that Turner’s theory was entirely discredited by Spencer, who showed that the hypothesized homing mechanism couldn’t possibly work.”
For the full obituary, see:
MICHAEL M. WEINSTEIN. “Kenneth Arrow, Influential Economist and Nobel Laureate, Is Dead at 95.” The New York Times (Weds., FEB. 22, 2017): A21.
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date FEB. 21, 2017, and has the title “Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95.”)