In our Freakonomics: What Went Wrong article, Kaiser and I wrote:
Levitt’s publishers characterize him as a “rogue economist,” yet he received his Ph.D. from MIT, holds the title of Alvin H. Baum Professor at the University of Chicago, and has served as editor of the completely mainstream Journal of Political Economy. Further “rogue” credentials revealed by Levitt’s online C.V. include an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a research fellowship with the American Bar Foundation, membership in the Harvard Society of Fellows, a fellowship at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a stint as a consultant for “Corporate Decisions, Inc.”
That’s all well and good, but, on the other hand, I too have degrees from Harvard and MIT and I also taught at the University of Chicago. But what really clinches it is that this month I gave a talk for an organization called the Corporate Executive Board. No kidding.
In my defense, I’ve never actually called myself a “rogue.” But still . . .
Typically, rogue is not just about your background, but about behavior. Despite his training, the question should be whether or not his work undermines or acts outside of conventional economic thinking, which may be easier grounds to take him to task on.
Several of the elites who come to lead rebel movements could be safely described as rogue (they have gone rogue). After all, despite Luke Skywalker’s Imperial lineage, his inclusion in the Rogue Squadron was pivotal for the rebels.
Yes, but Levitt and I remain in the Empire. He teaches at the University of Chicago and, if he no longer edits the Journal of Political Economy, he did so until recently. And I still teach at Columbia etc etc. For neither of us was there a break with the powers that be.
Agree – “Rogue” implies opportunistic vagabond. “Loose cannon” seems a better fit.