I once told the late Nobel prize winner George Stigler that I was teaching a course on the relationship between economics and the other social sciences. “Ah”, he nodded. “That would be haughty superciliousness, I suppose”.
I was reminded of this when a comment on a recent blogpost asked for my further thoughts on the economics of superstition. This, after all, might be one area where economics lags behind its sister sciences. And this in turn reminded me of a true social science classic—anthropologist Michael Pacanowsky’s investigation into the origins of the folk belief that the utterance “Please pass the salt” is causally linked to the passage of salt from one end of a table to another.