When Tyler Cowen speaks, is he really reading?

http://www.kenilworthchessclub.org/images/general/tyler-cowen.jpghttp://www.washingtonian.com/block_dbimages/7220/Picture%204.pngCheck out this Blogging Heads.  Its interesting to watch people you read as it adds a whole new dimension.  Anyway, check out Tyler Cowen.  Some politicians have the skill of speaking in perfect paragraphs. John Howard, Margaret Thatcher and Gough Whitlam spoke in perfect paragraphs.  Tyler Cowen takes this one step further.  He not only speaks with almost no ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.  He not only speaks in paragraphs.  He looks at the camera (well a bit above it, but at some fixed spot that he’s taking for the camera).  His expression is steadfast and determined, no matter what he’s saying.  As a famous review once said of an actor, “he runs the gamut of human emotions from A to B”.  His lips are mostly pursed in deliberation.  And, though, somehow miraculously he doesn’t take long to think about what he has to say, he speaks in paragraphs that are not just perfect gramatical paragraphs, but perfect schematic paragraphs moving from one theme to the other as he moves from one paragraph to another.  So it seems like no matter what he’s talking about he simply reads paragraphs that are written somewhere.  But he’s not reading. A remarkable and slightly spooky skill I think.

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8 Responses to When Tyler Cowen speaks, is he really reading?

  1. wilful says:

    Sorry nicholas, if you could possibly have spent a sentence saying who this person is and what he does? Googling tells me he’s an American economist. Is he famous? any good?

  2. He’s OK. Quite well known because he runs a prominent American econoblog.

    I was just taken with the speaking style. Not with his importance.

  3. Jacques Chester says:

    He might be using a mnemonic method. Roman senators could speak at great length using those systems. The most popular is the locus method, from which we get the pattern of “in the first place, in the second place” etc.

    I think Cato the Younger or Cicero once delivered a 3-day long speech without pause, interruption or mistake using this approach.

  4. FDB says:

    Jacques – maybe, but that’s cos every time he was stuck for a line it was “Carthage must this” and “that must burn”. ;)

  5. That was Cato the Elder – as in ‘Carthago delenda est’. He ended every speech in the senate with it, even if it was a tax bill or something.

    When I saw Tyler Cowen speak in May, I can vouch for the fact that he’s an extraordinarily impressive speaker. He does use notes, but very discreetly, and only occasionally looks at them. He achieves much of the effect by speaking relatively slowly, allowing time to gather his thoughts.

  6. FDB says:

    Yeah, I was pretty sure I didn’t have the right orator, but being drunk I thought comedic licence would stretch that far. On reflection I fear mine may be revoked.

  7. gilmae says:

    It was Cato the Younger trying to prevent Caesar from standing for Consul in absentia; and I seem to remember it was only until the close of the session rather than three days. Pity there weren’t more of him at the time.

  8. Liam (Bring Back Punster Paxton) says:

    Mr Smith, having gone to Washington, used the same trick.

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