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Book review: Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World by Tyler Cowen.

This somewhat misleadingly titled book is mainly about the benefits of neurodiversity and how changing technology is changing our styles of thought, and how we ought to improve our styles of thought.

His perspective on these subjects usually reflects a unique way of ordering his thoughts about the world. Few things he says seem particularly profound, but he persistently provides new ways to frame our understanding of the human mind that will sometimes yield better insights than conventional ways of looking at these subjects. Even if you think you know a good deal about autism, he’ll illuminate some problems with your stereotypes of autistics.

Even though it is marketed as an economics book, it only has about one page about financial matters, but that page is an eloquent summary of two factors that are important causes of our recent problems.

He’s an extreme example of an infovore who processes more information than most people can imagine. E.g. “Usually a blog will fail if the blogger doesn’t post … at least every weekday.” His idea of failure must be quite different from mine, as I more often stop reading a blog because it has too many posts than because it goes a few weeks without a post.

One interesting tidbit hints that healthcare costs might be high because telling patients their treatment was expensive may enhance the placebo effect, much like charging more for a given bottle of wine makes it taste better.

The book’s footnotes aren’t as specific as I would like, and sometimes leave me wondering whether he’s engaging in wild speculation or reporting careful research. His conjecture that “self-aware autistics are especially likely to be cosmopolitans in their thinking” sounds like something that results partly from the selection biases that come from knowing more autistics who like economics than autistics who hate economics. I wish he’d indicated whether he found a way to avoid that bias.