cover image Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World

Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World

Tyler Cowen, . . Dutton, $25.95 (259pp) ISBN 978-0-525-95123-0

In this provocative study of behavioral economics, Cowen (Discover Your Inner Economist ) reveals that autistic tendencies toward classification, categorization and specialization can be used as a vehicle for understanding how people use information. Cowen spends a great deal of time dispelling autism’s societal stigma, arguing that “mainstream society is reaping benefits from mimicking autistic cognitive strengths.” As stimulating as is the premise, the book often feels like its own long exercise in categorization, with each chapter an analysis of the human mania for classification (e.g., the obsession with ranking achievements and endeavors). According to Cowen, human brains are constantly absorbing bits of information that get smaller and are delivered faster as technology advances. The more information people receive, the more they crave—this shorter attention span is far from a flaw to the author, but a liberating mechanism that allows humans time to contemplate more ambitious, long-range pursuits. The relentless analysis is occasionally overwhelming, but Cowen’s illustration of our neurological filing system may help readers understand the mass consumption of information and just about everything else. (July)