Diane Coyle was born (in 1961) and raised in the north west of England, into a cotton spinning and weaving family. She climbed the 11-plus and grammar school ladder to go to Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Her long-standing dream of becoming a philosopher was overturned when she discovered the joys of economics, and she went on to do a PhD in economics at Harvard. She has since worked in a wide range of jobs, serving this vocation. Her blog is The Enlightened Economist.
Why do you blog? > Because I can, and it helps me take stock of my own reading.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Just do it, and as often as you have time for.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > David Hume, Amartya Sen, Paul Geroski, John Kay.
What are you reading at the moment? > The Institutional Revolution by Douglas W. Allen (University of Chicago Press).
Who are your cultural heroes? > Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Daniel Barenboim, J.M. Keynes (for the Arts Council), Howard Hodgkin, Henry Moore.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Zola's Germinal.
What is your favourite poem? > Czesław Miłosz, 'Preparation'.
What is your favourite movie? > Nanni Moretti's Dear Diary.
What is your favourite song? > 'Ashes to Ashes' by David Bowie.
Who is your favourite composer? > Shostakovich.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > When I was younger I believed in the possibility of social engineering, a belief that has evaporated with experience. Many policy aims simply cannot be achieved directly, and attempts to achieve desired results backfire.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Traditional Enlightenment empiricism.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Religion, when applied to people other than the believer: i.e., religion has no acceptable role in public policy.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, which I read at university. It was the first work of feminism I read, and for all its flaws it opened my eyes to the fact that I (and other women, and other minority groups) had a struggle on our hands. We still do.
Who are your political heroes? > Anyone with the courage of their convictions and able to speak and write clearly, in language for everyone: e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill... and Ellen Wilkinson and Jennie Lee for understanding the importance of education and the arts for everyone.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > It’s the economy, stupid.
What would you do with the UN? > The resolution of conflicts doesn't happen without talking, so a talking-shop is essential. But I'd brutally trim the UN agencies. The kindest thing to say about many of them is that they're ineffective and costly, no more than a vehicle for expenses and foreign trips.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Battles for resources.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Kindness.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Arrogance.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching sport.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Who, not what - my family.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Juliette Binoche.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Boston, Massachussetts.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Ballet class.
What is your most treasured possession? > My dog, Cabbage.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Ballet dancer.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Not at all except for buying first class tickets for air travel.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Ada Lovelace, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. I would dress appropriately.
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