The Quantum Pontiff

An Identification Problem

Some quotes, with some substitutions, denoted by [], for the actual words:

“The famous physicist Max Planck was talking about the resistance of the human mind, even the bright human mind, to new ideas…. And he said science advances one funeral at a time, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that and it’s certainly been true in [FIELD X].”


“If you stand up in front of a [FIELD Y] class and say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, you won’t get tenure…. Higher mathematics my be dangerous and lead you down pathways that are better left untrod.”


“The more symbols they could work into their writing the more they were revered.”

Question: who said these things? A disgrunted professor? Peter Woit talking about string theory?

Bzzt. Nope it’s Warren Buffett. FIELD X= finance, FIELD Y=business.


  1. #1 Joe Renes
    May 5, 2009

    my initial reaction, on the assumption that a physicist or mathematician would be too obvious, was Taleb (of the black swan). But that’s just because I’m currently reading the book! He doesn’t shy away from saying unkind things about mathematization of economics…

  2. #2 Joe Renes
    May 5, 2009

    This one’s also a gem: “There is so much that’s false and nutty in modern [X] and modern [Y], that if you just reduced the nonsense, that’s a goal you should reasonably hope for.”

  3. #3 Ian Durham
    May 5, 2009

    I heard an interview with Buffett yesterday on the BBC. He is a phenomenally intelligent, well-spoken, and utterly down-to-earth person. For anyone who is interested, it can be found here (scroll down to 04 May 09 AM).

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