That is the title of a book by James Owen Weatherall. I received a review copy. I will say that I finished it, which is more than can be said for most books that I get sent to review. So I feel entitled to blog about it. The book offers short biographies of students of physics who applied their models in finance, along with layman-friendly explanations of the theories involved. A main theme of the book is that economists are too snotty toward physicists. For exaple, on p. 146-147 he describes attempts by the Santa Fe Institute to bring physicists and economists together in the late 1980s. This worked out poorly, but when the institute invited practitioners from Wall Street, “The traders proved much less defensive than the economists.”
I think that the complaint about snotty economists is pretty widespread. Experts in many disciplines, including psychology, sociology, and biology, believe that they bring techniques that would be useful to economists but are under-appreciated. I am not sure how to react. I think that what Weatherall calls the sociology of the economics profession is as bad as he says it is. But I am not part of the mainstream myself. If you ask folks in the leading departments about the state of economics, they will tell you that it is basically fine.
The book itself contains some well-written stories, a bit reminiscent of The Money Game, which most of you are too young to remember (Weatherall probably never heard of it). I learned little new from the early chapters, but I got a bit more insight into the Santa Fe Institute folks and the chapter on Didier Sornette and his models for sensing major changes was entirely new to me. After that, the book sort of petered out for me. At the end, he calls for a sort of “Manhattan Project” to apply physics to economics. Calling for a “Manhattan Project” on anything is a surefire way to put me off.