Tyler Cowen is Holbert C. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Director of the Mercatus Center and the James Buchanan Center for Political Economy. He is author of numerous articles and books, including In Praise of Commercial Culture, What Price Fame?, Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World's Cultures, and Markets and Cultural Voices: Liberty vs. Power in the Lives of the Mexican Amate Painters. His next book, Good and Plenty: The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding, is due this spring from Princeton University Press. Tyler is an avid collector of Mexican art and deeply interested in music and film. He blogs daily at Marginal Revolution, and also sometimes at The Volokh Conspiracy and at Avian Flu.
Why do you blog? > I learn from doing it, and it embodies the idea of open discourse.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Feeling that I now have a better grasp of both public issues and microeconomic reasoning.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Trying to find a Kinko's in various parts of rural America, or trying to use 'Control C' in Mexican Internet cafes.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Not to give advice to novice bloggers once you are more experienced.
What are you reading at the moment? > I'm slowly going through Cortazar's Hopscotch (Rayuela), in Spanish. I'll be starting George Martin's fantasy books, plus I've been reading many cookbooks and books on the history of food.
Who are your cultural heroes? > My Bloody Valentine, Beck, and Matthew Shipp are a few currently. Dana Schutz is another.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Proust? Moby Dick? As I Lay Dying?
What is your favourite poem? > It is hard not to pick Dante. Then the British Romantics.
What is your favourite movie? > Scenes from a Marriage, and then Smiles of a Summer Night. I love Bergman. Or perhaps The Empire Strikes Back.
What is your favourite song? > Right now? 'You Won't See Me', from Rubber Soul.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That economic growth is extremely beneficial.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That equality of outcome or opportunity is valuable per se.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Hayek, Derek Parfit, and Quine were all big influences. Parfit makes one sceptical about strict methodological individualism. Quine drives out essentialism.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Nuclear proliferation.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Yet to come. Certainly now is better than ten years ago. It would be strange if the very peak were this moment.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Existence = possibility! We are married.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > In response to the question 'In what circumstances would you be willing to lie?'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Most socializing bores me. But TV is starting to get good. I love Firefly, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sopranos, Ali G, and Epitafios.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > I worry about the worrying of my wife.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Manhattan, but a good version of this experience would require more money than I will plausibly have.
What would your ideal holiday be? > The Southern Cone - Argentina, Brazil and Chile - is close to paradise for me. I love taking buses to obscure parts of under-explored countries.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > What is spare time? Can I say blogging? How about 'occasionally going to work'?
What is your most treasured possession? > My collection of Mexican amates (bark paintings) is the best collection in the world. My collection of Haitian voodoo flags might be the best also, although that is harder to judge.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > I would change my name to 'Cowen Tyler', which is what many foreigners call me anyway.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Early Jim Carrey, and now I like Sarah Silverman.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Darrell Walker, former point guard for the Washington Bullets.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > A long and healthy life.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would buy more art.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Boswell, Johnson and Swift would be fun.
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