I had a blast when discovering the following paper by R. Oxoby (an Economics Professor at the university of Calgary): "On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson"
I cannot resist to reproducing in full its introduction:
The band AC/DC is considered one of the seminal hard rock bands, often compared to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in influencing many subsequent hard rock and heavy metal bands. The band was formed in 1973 by Angus and Malcolm Young who took the band’s moniker from the back of their sister’s sewing machine. In its 35 year history, the band has sold more than 150 million albums, including 42 million copies of the 1980 album Back in Black, making Back in Black the highest selling album by any rock band. In 2003 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Given all this, it is no wonder that AC/DC has such a rabid fan base and, as discussed below, faces an epic debate regarding its line-up. Among musicologists, researchers of popular culture, and rock and roll lovers of all ages there exists a common debate. That is, with respect to the rock band AC/DC, who is the better vocalist: Bon Scott or Brian Johnson? The band’s original vocalist, Scott, performed on seven of the band’s albums (excluding live albums and compilations), passing away in 1980. Brian Johnson joined the band in 1980, serving as vocalist on nine albums (excluding live albums and compilations). Since 1980, there has been near constant contention regarding who was the better singer. In this paper, we explore this issue. Since it is difficult to ascertain which vocalist was better given the heterogeneity of musical tastes, our analysis does not focus on the aural or sonic quality of the vocalists’ performances. Rather, using tools from the field of experimental economics, and we consider which vocalist results in individuals arriving at more efficient outcomes in a simple bargaining game. Our results suggest that having participants listen to songs by AC/DC in which Brian Johnson served as vocalist results in participants realizing more efficient outcomes. Thus, in terms of a singer’s ability to implement efficient behavioral outcomes among listeners, our results suggest that Brian Johnson was a better vocalist than Bon Scott.
The paper has sparked debate lately, with S. Levitt (the well-known Freakonomics author) popularizing it, but also criticizing Oxoby's findings in a LA Times Op-Ed. What S. Levitt ignored is that the paper was an entire joke.
Bottom-line: confronted with what appears to be sophisticated analysis, even the most distinguished economists do not manage to draw the line between a completely fictitious study and a real expert paper. To lawyers, judges, and civil servants: beware economic analysis.
Personal note: indeed, I am a long-time AC/DC fan...