Skip to content

Julian Simon birthday

February 8 was the 14th anniversary of his death.  Simon was best known in other fields – demographics and natural resource economics.  He was the original inventor of the airline-overbooking “auction” procedure by which airlines cannot just arbitrarily bump passengers (as they used to be able to do), they must first try to entice volunteers.  Credited by Wikipedia as the founder of “free-market environmentalism,” Simon also gave a boost to the “put your money where your mouth is” school of public policy.  He entered into a bet with Paul Erlich, the population biologist, who bet that prices for five metals would increase over a decade.  Simon bet the reverse, and won.  His role as a pioneer of resampling methods is chronicled in Statistical Science, v. 18, #2, May, 2003, in an article by Peter Hall.  I had the pleasure of working with Simon for a number of years, and his thinking on the role of using resampling in teaching introductory statistics is now embodied in the introductory sequence.