Telling tales

Some additional minor fame, courtesy of Robert Frank:

Basic economic principles are not rocket science. They are accessible even to children. Lance Knobel, for example, who writes the blog, said that he’d been regaling his 11-year-old son with economic naturalist puzzles at bedtime, “and he can’t get enough of them.”

Curiously, my wife did a search on the Times site so she could send the link to her mother in England and the last time I appeared in The New York Times was also in Economic View — seven years ago — when Louis Uchitelle quoted me about inviting anti-corporate NGOs and union leaders to Davos. I wonder how Economic View will quote me in 2014?

8 thoughts on “Telling tales

  1. Felix

    I’d never ego-searched myself on before reading this, so I gave it a go, expecting a list dominated by DealBook posts. Turns out, NYTimes blog entries aren’t included in the search results!

    Which means that this page, the search results on “Felix Salmon” at, has only 6 results. But this page, the search results for “Felix Salmon” on Google, restricted to pages, has 62 results.

    Oh, wait, no it doesn’t. It says on the first page that there are “about 62” search results. But then on the second page there are only 2 search results, which means the actual total is not 62 but 12. Weird, how Google gets those things wrong.

  2. Charles Horton

    Mr. Knobel,

    I have a young son, and I would like for him to have the education that I never got. Do you think that you could share some of your economic naturalist puzzles? If so, please be sure to include some viable answers (I don’t trust myself to solve them).

    Best regards,
    Charles Horton

  3. Kukuh Noertjojo

    I am trying to teach my daughters about some basic economic principle as well. Having no back ground (except for economic 101) myself, it is more of an intuition to me than something scientific. I was wondering if Lance don’t mind to share the stories he told his son.
    Thank you.

  4. Rick

    Mr. Knobel,
    Just where does one find these “economic naturalist puzzles” anyway. Sounds like just the thing to share around the campfire on a dark night.
    The area around Lake Tahoe is pretty amazing. I keep wondering if the reason we like it might not have something to do with all of those old Disney ‘nature’ movies we used to watch.

  5. Barbara

    As the mother of inquisitive children, I would be thrilled to have a source of “economic naturalist” puzzles to discuss with them. I interview for one of the Ivies and am consistently distressed at the lack of general economic knowledge among the country’s brightest students. Would that it could be addressed at an earlier age. Could you recommend any sources? Thank you in advance.

  6. Lance Knobel

    Robert Frank’s book, The Economic Naturalist, provides several dozen “economic naturalist” puzzles. The point of the book is to encourage inquisitive minds to think like an economist and I think it does it very successfully, even for young minds.

  7. Paul

    I agree with Barbara. Does Lance Knobel know of any sources for more economic puzzles? I am an Economics Instructor at a Hawaii Community College and my students really enjoy these exercises.

  8. Lance Knobel

    Beyond Robert Frank’s book, I don’t know of a good source. Sounds like an excellent idea for a blog, if someone wants to start one.

    The best approach for someone like Paul at a community college would be to adopt Frank’s method and get your students to come up with puzzles. Some of them are certain to be new gems.


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