Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wonk if You're Horny

I think there has been a regrettable blurring of the line between "Wonk" and other members of the cognoscenti. Even Kevin Drum doesn't seem to see a lot of difference between say "Wonk" and "Nerd." The political press is a big problem of course, since they think than anybody who can count on more than four fingers is a Wonk, when properly the term is reserved for those who actually have some policy knowledge - though usually the numeracy required is minimal. Of course there are Wonks, like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman who do know the difference between ordinary and partial derivatives.

Math nerds or geeks, on the other hand, really do know the difference between trivial and non-trivial fiber bundles, but might not know anything about economics, say. Steve Landsburg would be a good example here.