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October 13, 2006



I know economists think they have the answer to everything, but this is the first economic review of potential for nooky (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nookie) I have come across.

angry economist

How do you factor in "your chances" i.e. one of the lasses you specify or are attracted to acquiescing to your invitation for a night out on the chardonnay,or nookie?

The way you portrayed it Chris, is a one way transaction, whereas surely its arbitrage between 2 individuals with their own preferences.

And what role does alcohol play in either muffling the evaluation process, but smooting the arbitrage process?

This subject demands field research!!! I am married though, so would have to be strictly an impartial observer.

tom s.

Does your old university only interview straight men and gay women?


The correct answer is of course "For what purpose?". That aside, I should note that to persons of taste and discrimination, NORKs can refer only to the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.


Or I suppose you could answer "To what end?", but that might cause unseemly cackling among the dons.

james higham

If you're speaking of preference for Kate over Kathy, then this is not Arrow due to there being two variables.

Not Saussure

Hmm. If they start offering you bribes and one of them promises you, if you pick her, the most beautiful woman in the world as your wife, do make sure that the girl you're being offered isn't already married to the King of Sparta. No good will come of it.


Chris, I think you need locking in a room with the Women's Editor of The Guardian until you mend your ways. Annoyingly, you'd probably look upon that as a particularly exotic form of correction?


so Oxbridge are back to asking weird questions to find the best applicants. "Top" public schools and state schools will train their applicants to answer these questions, but the rest, used to a more mundate diet of state school fare, will be thrown, not do well, and fail to get in. And so the system of privilege perpetuates itself ...


.. and the correct answer is "all of them, and no"

Not Saussure

The point of asking 'weird questions,' surely, is that they test your ability to think on your feet and to marshal the knowledge you've got to think creatively and answer a question you've never been asked before. I'm not sure to what extent a school can train people to do that, as opposed, perhaps, to encouraging them so to do.

What's wrong with that? If state schools aren't doing that, then there's surely something badly wrong with them.


Not Saussure - yes but you can be taught to think on your feet (I've got a few examples from various situations which I'll produce if desired) and the problem with state schools is that increasingly they are aimed at producing good results for the masses (nothing wrong with that) and not producing excellent results for the few.

Not Saussure

Dipper -- I agree you can be taught to think on your feet. However, I don't think this valuable skill is one only an elite can acquire; there's nothing to stop teachers in state schools setting their A level candidates original and challenging essay topics or raising them in class discussion, is there?

As Chris has demonstrated above, the question's inviting people to take what they know about economic theory by asking them to apply it in a novel context rather than to reproduce what they've been told about how it applies in given situations. Why's it difficult for teachers in state schools to do that?

Kate Moss

"I have a strong preference for (say) Kelly Brook over Kate Moss. I would need big money to take Kate Moss."

Even if I brought my own coke? Fussy, aren't we? This'll be why you're still single...


not Sausure - yes I completely agree and I'm sure there are lots of teachers who do just that. But the system does not reward them for doing it as it is focussed on obtaining maximum results across a range of not particularly stretching exams. Increasing numbers of A grades at A level mean the excellent cannot be distinguished from the very good. So Oxbridge resorts to other methods. Public schools and others then train for this, and the result has been a drop in state school pupils at Oxford and Cambridge. Well done New Labour.


Of course, one could learn to think on one's feet by arguing with adults or the brighter of one's fellow pupils. Or even shouting at the telly. Must everything be blamed on the poor bloody schoolteacher?

Not Saussure

I suppose the only completely unbiased way of allocating the very limited number of places available to read PPE or whatever would be to take the names of all the suitably qualified applicants and draw the winners out of a hat. Not sure this would commend itself to everyone, though.


dearieme I have no idea how you interpret my comments as being a complaint about teachers when it clearly blames the government. Please explain.

Now here's an example. I know of an A-level student at state school in mid-wales who wishes to study maths at University. However, Further Maths tuition is not available at his school, so he can only do a single Maths A-level. Now Cambridge does not regard A-level results in maths as sufficient proof of mathematical ability, so it requires Further Maths A-level as well. So this student is effectively barred from even being a candidate at Cambridge.

Surely it should be axiomatic that the education available to everyone in the country is of a sufficient standard to allow access to the top Universities for those able enough to go? At least all the sufficiently able candidates should be able to get their name in the hat?


Dipper, "they are aimed at producing good results for the masses (nothing wrong with that) and not producing excellent results for the few". If you didn't intend that as a criticism of the teachers, then you shouldn't have used the bloody passive, should you? Cambridge, of course, has the duty not to admit people who it thinks likely to fail, so it doesn't want under-qualified students: what the hells wrong with that? If the pols who run mid-Wales wish to exclude their young from Cambridge, so be it; the electors should throw them out.

Kate Moss

"Increasing numbers of A grades at A level mean the excellent cannot be distinguished from the very good. So Oxbridge resorts to other methods. Public schools and others then train for this, and the result has been a drop in state school pupils at Oxford and Cambridge. Well done New Labour."

The problem you describe stems from the use of grade-related criteria in marking schemes. We have it in Scotland too. Not a New Labour invention - it was introduced under the Tories. Solution would be simply to drop GRCs - then Oxford, and most teachers, would be much happier. Sorted.


Chris, you just wanted an excuse to put up her picture didn't you. Whatever happened to poor Kerry?

The Moai

I did biology at Oxford. This question works for me. First of all, it would probably get a laugh out of the nervous candidate, thereby relaxing them. Secondly, it would be a great intro into a discussion about primary and seconday sexual characteristics, how norkage is a signal of reproductive health, mate preference, etc.

Dave Hill

Thank God (god?) I'm extremely married. I'm well out my depth here...

Julie Cochrane

You sillies. You forgot one of the most important questions: is the "you" writing the essay male or female? And if female, is she straight? Further, if male, is he gay?

That relevance to economics is that analysts and companies can (and do) make huge market mistakes when their assumptions blinker their business models. Contemplating even the idea of three beautiful, naked women obviously affects the judgment of men so much that they are inhibited from seeing the most obvious factor in the equation.

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