In the Green Room

A Contrarian with an Unevolved Metabolism

Economist Robert H. Frank Takes Questions in the Green Room

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Economist Robert H. Frank is the author of The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good. Before visiting Zócalo to explain why Darwin’s theories might be able to rescue the U.S. economy, he gave us his take on natural selection (his metabolism would be a liability) and the Occupy Wall Street Movement (he’s sympathetic) in the green room.

Q. Do you have any childhood nicknames?

A. No. “Bobby” is what my friends and parents called me when I was a little kid.

Q. What do you watch on television?

A. Sports, and occasionally movies. I’m a tennis fan, so I watch almost all the major tennis tournaments. I watch baseball, and living in and around New York, I became a Yankee fan long ago even though I don’t like the Steinbrenner family at all.

Q. What’s your take on the Occupy movement?

A. I’m very sympathetic. … I don’t think [Occupy has] a well-formulated sense of what they want yet, and that’s because I don’t think the whole conversation about economic policy has been conducted in a way that anybody would have any idea what to demand. And that’s of course what my book tries to set right.

Q. What’s your favorite pizza topping?

A. Chicken and artichoke hearts, proscuitto. Those are good.

Q. What aspect of you would not survive evolution?

A. I have a rapid metabolism, and in an environment with severe food shortages I would be one of the first to starve.

Q. What promise to yourself do you break most often?

A. I say I should spend less time doing crosswords and sudokus.

Q. What literary character do you identify with?

A. Do you read any of the [novels of] Jo Nesbø? His character is one I identify with a bit-he’s kind of a contrarian: Harry Hole.

Q. What don’t you leave home without?

A. I’ve gotten very dependent on my iPhone, and I bring my laptop pretty much everywhere I go.

Q. Where would we find you at 10 a.m. on a typical Saturday?

A. The farmers market.

Q. What do you do to clear your mind?

A. I play tennis, ride a bike-I exercise, mainly.

Q. How do you react when you’re embarrassed?

A. I withdraw.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido