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9 questions for Tyler Cowen

The economist on Plato, complacency, and dark chocolate

Javier Zarracina

This week, Tyler Cowen — economist, professor, blogger, and author of The Complacent Classanswers our questions.

What’s the first piece of media you consume every day?

Does Twitter count? If Ezra and Matt get up early enough, it could be a Vox link I am clicking on. But if email counts, that’s the winner.

Name a writer or publication you disagree with but still read.

Well, that’s everyone. How about the Bible as an answer?

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?

Most people ought to start with their parents and other immediate family members, and I am no exception to that. More proximately, I would cite economics as a discipline and Plato’s dialogic method for philosophy, plus a lot of early time playing chess.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?

Those Bayesian probabilities quiver as I am writing. Even the absence of information arrival usually is telling us something.

What’s your worst intellectual habit?

Complacency.

What inspires you to learn?

Complacency. Curiosity about nonessentials is in fact quite a luxury.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?

That there will be good food waiting for me somewhere, and perhaps some dark chocolate.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?

The steady-state matter account of the origin of the universe still tempts me, and I wonder if it might not be true at some level, if we define the dimensionality of the problem properly. “It’s always been there” — what a wonderful thought!

What book have you recommended the most?

Perhaps Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker. Either that or the Bible.

You can read last week’s edition of 9 questions with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie here.

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