In 2019, on his blog:
Recently I read, rather by accident than design, short lives of several contemporary economists. What struck me was their bareness. The lives sounded like CVs. Actually, there was hardly any difference between their CVs and their lives (to the extent that I could tell).
Can you have a boring life and be a first-rate social scientist? To some extent, probably yes. […] But I think it is unlikely: because it in human nature, however smart we may be, to understand certain things or to look at different and new aspects of an issue, only when we face the problem ourselves.
Orderly and boring lives are a privilege of rich and orderly societies. We all (perhaps except when we are 25) wish to lead such lives. But they are also very limited lives: the range of emotions and choices that we experience is narrow.
But if our life is a CV, can we understand human choices and human nature—a precondition for being a great social scientist? By asking that question, are we not asking whether well-behaved individuals in orderly and rich societies can really produce breakthroughs in social sciences. Or will their lessons remain circumscribed to orderly and rich societies only and to orderly and boring people, and not carry over to the rest of the world?