It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Be An Economist)

Get a load of this. A discussion paper by an economist at the University of Calgary on how the different vocal stylings of Bon Scott and Brian Johnson effect economic decision making.

The author of the study, one Robert Oxoby, admits that the long standing argument on which AC/DC vocalist is better may be too subjective to answer conclusively. So instead, while testing Canadian college students in traditional economic game theory on negotiating, he had a song from each vocalist playing in the background. The goal is to determine if players in the game made more economically advisable decisions while listening to one or the other of the vocalists.

The songs chosen were “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock and Roll” featuring the late Mr. Scott and “Shoot To Thrill” by the current vocalist Mr. Johnson. The study used deeper cuts to avoid listener identification with monster smashes like “Highway to Hell” and “Back In Black.” Skimming the conclusions, apparently Mr. Johnson’s vocals resulted in more economically efficient decision making by the students.

Some comments.

1) Everyone knows that Bon Scott freakin’ rules so the study is flawed from the outset.

2) AC/DC music doesn’t make me want to maximize the utility of my economic decisions, it make me want to act as stupidly as I am able (hopefully within legal boundaries, but certainly while vigorously head-banging, an act that will cause severe cognitive dysfunction over prolonged periods.)

3) Listen to “Let There Be Rock” by the Drive-By Truckers and try to imagine any rational brain activity going on while listening to Bon Scott-era AC/DC.

4) “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock And Roll” kicks ass and is without a doubt the greatest song in the AC/DC catalog (dig the dueling solos between the electric guitar and the bagpipes!) I mean, that has to compromise the integrity of the study, right?

5) Steven Levitt, one of the authors of Freakonomics (and the source of this link), had it exactly right: “I hope this guy has tenure.”

2 thoughts on “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Be An Economist)

  1. Hey Dumbass
    This was news six months ago and, if you read Levitt’s blog, you would know that he was taken in by a joke. By the way the joke paper has been accepted and in coming out in a journal soon. You’re way behind with buddy.
    Rob Oxoby


  2. Excuse me?

    I don’t even know you and you’re calling me a dumbass? I thought the paper was great, funny.
    You couldn’t tell from my ramblings that I wasn’t taking your paper too seriously?

    I saw the piece because the NYT Freakonomics blog had another post on it yesterday. Excuse me if I didn’t see it the first time.
    Your paper is obviously not all that important in the scheme of things, but you must think so to react so violently. I thought Canadians were supposed to have senses of humor unlike us dour, type A personality Americans.

    Get a life.


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