The Substantive Bottom Line

Tyler Cowen, in his special unpublished chapter sent to buyers of Create Your Own Economy, lays the groundwork for what he plans to do the rest of his book-in-progress:

I will focus on clashing arguments and the substantive bottom line. I do not devote much time to building consensus on familiar material, literature survey, or other niceties. I do not retread familiar ground, offering some “suggestive remarks” on the tough problems at the very end. I do not “argue by elimination” by focusing on the weaknesses in other views and downplaying the weaknesses of my own. Instead I seek to start with tough questions and spend the rest of the book trying to pick up the pieces. That is the kind of book I like to read and thus that is the sort of book I am trying to write.

…If you are the kind of reader I want, no matter how hard I push, you will feel I have not pushed hard enough on the tough questions.

In other words, he rejects timid, “on the one hand, on the other hand, on the third hand” argumentative narratives. He likes deliberate provocation. He wants to focus on the most contentious issues of an argument.

I like people who focus on the substantive bottom line. People like Marty Nemko.

I like people who think seriously without apologizing, and feel deeply without hedging. Add humility and a strong sense of humor, and you’ve got a winning combination for a stimulating, fun person or book.


I’m soon speaking in Sioux City, IA and Nicosia, Cyprus (the country). I’ll also be passing through Boston and D.C., among other places, so if we should be meeting up and breaking bread over a glass of tap water or pulp-heavy orange juice, email me!

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