Thaler is a big reason I personally got interested in economics. (I’ve known him quite a bit longer than I’ve known Steve Levitt.) He is everything to be admired in a scholar and thinker: original, judicious, crafty, and more than a little sardonic. (My only gripe is that he turned me down years ago when I wanted to write a book with him.)
Without Thaler, the world would know far, far less about the work of Kahneman and Tversky, as he was the earliest (and pretty much only) economist interested in harnessing the power of their decision-making research. Without Thaler, there is no way that behavioral economics would now be a standard tool in the arsenal of policymakers (and, of course, others).
He has been featured on this blog many times over the years; you can sample those pieces here.
He has also been on the Freakonomics Radio podcast a few times, including “Fighting Poverty With Actual Evidence” and “Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?”
And here’s a N.Y. Times piece I wrote about Thaler and other behavioralists back in 2003, near the start of his “libertarian paternalism” push.
Among his books: the influential Nudge; the revealing Misbehaving; and the oft-overlooked Winner’s Curse, which I happened to dip into just last week for fun, and as always got swept up in Thaler’s starkly sane view of the world.
Well done, Economics Sciences Prize Committee, and well done, Dick Thaler!