Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap

The scholar of the week here at Soho the Dog HQ is economist Dr. Robert Oxoby of the University of Calgary, for his paper “On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson.” (Via.) Dr. Oxoby sought a measurement of whether Scott or Johnson, who took over after Scott’s 1980 death, was the better lead singer of the famed heavy metal pioneers, so he played examples of each vocalist’s work while student volunteers played an ultimatum game, a common test of efficient economic behavior—and Johnson won out. Oxoby’s conclusions are appropriately cautious but provocative:

The question as to who was a better singer, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, may never truly be resolved. However, our analysis suggests that in terms of affecting efficient decision making among listeners, Brian Johnson was a better singer. Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organizational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations (or setting up environments in which other parties will negotiate) and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band’s Brian Johnson era discography.

I can see this method being used equally well to determine the relative anti-establishment credentials of punk rock groups—which album most interfered with capitalist processes?—or even to determine just how much Shostakovich’s alleged bourgeois cosmopolitanism would have undermined a socialist economy.

Update (8/22): How does such research come about? Dr. Oxoby explains.


  1. This research is scientifically invalid because it fails to take into account < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Evans_%28singer%29" REL="nofollow">Dave Evans<>, the Chuck Cunningham of AC/DC. I think he went to my high school (Dave, not Chuck).

  2. <>Yes, he’s something of the Robert Owen to Scott and Johnson’s Marx and Lenin, isn’t he?<>I read that, started laughing, went to Wikipedia, read a bit of the Robert Owen entry to refresh my memory and I’m *still* laughing. Well done [polite golf applause]<>Back in Black<> is one of my very favorite albums, but Bon Scott just had IT.

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