Tyler Cowen Is Funny, Scarily Well-Read, Possibly Autistic

By Alex Eichler 11:59 AM ET

In the latest Bloomberg Businessweek, there’s a profile of Tyler Cowen, the economist, professor, food writer, and all-around polymath who blogs at Marginal Revolution. The profile, by Brendan Greeley, does a nice job of showing us Cowen’s human side. Cowen is a voracious reader (as Atlantic Wire regulars may already know), and a prolific writer–Greeley notes that he’s “published 15 books and over 60 academic articles,” including a recent e-book, The Great Stagnation. James Joyner, who blogs at Outside the Beltway, calls Cowen’s output “mindboggling.”

In Greeley’s profile, we get a glimpse of how a mind like that fuels itself. Among other things, we learn:

Cowen bails out of books early and often. Some people start a book and feel obligated to finish it; not so for Cowen. “He takes up books with great hope and no mercy, and when he is done–sometimes after five minutes–he abandons them in public, an act he calls a ‘liberation.'”

But he still reads more than you. “Tyler Cowen has read what’s listed in Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon, though not, he concedes, every single last one of the Icelandic sagas. He rereads what you probably haven’t heard of, like Anton Chekhov’s Sakhalin Island … Several people have told me the same story about Cowen: They have watched him read, and he scans a page as others might scan a headline.”

He was a teenage chess prodigy. “When Tyler Cowen was 15, he became the New Jersey Open Chess Champion, at the time the youngest ever … By 16 he had reached a chess rating of 2350, which today would put him close to the top 100 in the U.S.”

More here.

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