We've delved into questions about the history of economics. We've pondered what the most important equations in economics are. But in every science, academic culture inevitably forms a special set of ideas that further our understanding of the most fundamental ideas we use in our work: jokes.

Jokes are only funny if they set you up to have a false assumption about the material at hand, and then subvert it. In this way, jokes can be used to reveal underlying assumptions we economists might take about the world that are very well absurd, but important nonetheless to moving towards more sophisticated models. Even within mainstream economic schools, ideas like using cardinal vs. ordinal utility, or utilitarianism itself can be contentious. John Rawls's veil of ignorance or Nozick's more libertarian epistemology? Are sticky wages really realistic?

What are some jokes you have encountered that would be useful for addressing an underlying assumption of an economic theory, or economics itself?

(Any further recommendations for improving this question are appreciated. It can even be a community question if that would be best.)

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    $\begingroup$ This question is mentioned on meta: meta.economics.stackexchange.com/questions/1554/… $\endgroup$ – Pimgd Mar 22 '16 at 9:00
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about economic theory and applications. It degrades the site, and becomes a broken window that attracts other and worse damage. The very creation of a "fun" tag - like the creation of this question - becomes a magnet for all sorts of junk $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Mar 22 '16 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to put this question on hold because its on/off-topic status is currently the subject of a meta debate at meta.economics.stackexchange.com/questions/1554/…. The off-topic arguments are somewhat compelling. Part of the purpose of the beta is to determine the scope of the site, so let's have the meta discussion and decide whether to reopen the question or not. $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous Mar 22 '16 at 10:36
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    $\begingroup$ First you are encouraging homework question and now this. Kitsune you are an agent of chaos, the resistance to the site's establishment :) $\endgroup$ – Giskard Mar 22 '16 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ ⚑ The revolution will not be televized ⚑ (I'll edit the question later to make it better fineeeee.) $\endgroup$ – Kitsune Cavalry Mar 22 '16 at 15:22

Not to suggest that this should become a list of the best econ related https://xkcd.com/552/ and http://phdcomics.com/comics.php but I always really liked that one:

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  • $\begingroup$ always a topical post in the sciences $\endgroup$ – Kitsune Cavalry Mar 22 '16 at 3:41

A physicist a chemist and an economist are stranded in a deserted island after a wreckage. They have managed to salvage a case of canned food, but they have nothing to open the cans, and the island is a true paradise -meaning, all sand and beaches and soft bushes -but no stones, nothing hard.
The physicist and the chemist try to put their scientific knowledge to work by conjuring forces of nature, gravity, pressure, materials science, inorganic chemistry etc, but they can't make them to work in their favor, they lack the necessary infrastructure to do it.

Meanhwile, the economist is laying on the side, enjoying the sun and smiling, a bit cockily.

-Why do you smile? - Ask the scientists, angry and frustrated

-Because I have the solution - replies the economist

-Which is? - challenge the scientists

The economist looks up, with a trace of pity in his eyes, gets up and says very confidently:

"Assume that we have a can opener".

Comment: Assuming what one wants to prove is an ever-present trap in Economics especially after its mathematization, something that Paul Samuelson was wise enough to warn us about even as he pushed this very mathematization forward.


An economics professor and her student are walking on the street. The student points to the ground before them.
"Professor look! A twenty dollar bill!"
The professor waves dismissingly.
"Do not bother picking it up. If it were a real twenty dollar bill someone would already have picked it up."

I also like these two SMBC comics featuring Superman, but the images are big so I will only link to them.
It's more complex than you realize.
Finally, we found maximum efficiency.

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    $\begingroup$ SMBC can be pretty hit or miss, (especially in its somewhat cursory treatment of views of economists) but I do like that second Superman one. $\endgroup$ – Kitsune Cavalry Mar 22 '16 at 7:43

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