Distinguished economist and 2002 Nobel Prize winner Vernon L. Smith
spoke at Clemson University today as part of The Big Ideas about Information Lecture Series, sponsored by the Information Economy Project. The event was free and open to the public. Smith spoke in 100 Brackett Hall from 4-5:30 p.m., followed by a reception.

Considered the founding father of experimental economics, Smith’s presentation is titled “Information from Experiments that Changed False Beliefs: Two Cases and Their Economic Implications.”

He was awarded his Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, along with Daniel Kahneman, in 2002 for ground breaking work on experimental economics. Smith received the Nobel recognition for “having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms.”

His work on experimental economics began in the mid-1950s and cha
llenged the commonly held belief at the time that economists, unlike chemists or biologists, would never be able to perform controlled experiments. Today, experimental economics is widely accepted and used to study electricity pricing and allocating airplane landing slots, among many other examples.

Smith is professor of economics at Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics and School of Law in Orange County, Calif., a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center, all in Arlington, Va. He is also a senior fellow at the CATO Institute.

Smith is considered a pioneering economist, having discovered an entirely new way to study economics using experimental methods. Economic experiments are used to help understand how and why markets and other exchange systems function the way they do.

Experiments devised by Smith and a variety of colleagues around the world have shown how markets adjust to price changes, how different cultures exhibit varying degrees of trust in social relations, and how shifting rules or regulations can alter the level of cooperation between firms or individuals.

“Vernon Smith is one of the most important social scientists of the past century, having pushed innovative methods and challenged traditional economic thinking,” said Thomas Hazlett, Clemson professor of economics and director of the Information Economy Project. Hazlett added that findings based on Smith’s work “have revolutionized academic research in several fields, including economics, finance, psychology, management and political science, and today provide exciting avenues for discovery by a new generation of scholars.”

Smith attended the California Institute of Technology, where he received a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering. His master of arts was earned at the University of Kansas and his doctorate from Harvard University.

Click here to watch Smith’s lecture.
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