Dating advice for Tyler Cowen

4th March, 2007

I’ve been reading an early copy of Tyler Cowen’s hugely enjoyable “Discover Your Inner Economist“. Full of small steps towards a much better life. Here’s Tyler in an art gallery:

In every room ask yourself which picture you would take home — if you could take just one — and why. This forces us to keep thinking critically about the displays. If the alarm system was shut down and the guards went away, should I carry home the Cezanne, the Manet, or the Renoir?

And on self-deceit:

How many of us would enjoy hearing a two-hour debate — Oxford style with formal rules — on the relative prominence of our virtues and flaws? Let’s say – just to be generous – that the “Virtue” side would win the debate.

Marvellous. He doesn’t get it all right, though:

A pure “hard to get” strategy fails to satisfy what signaling theorists call – forgive the nerdspeak – “a separating equilibrium.” In other words, it does not sort (or “separate”) the winners from the losers. “Hard to get” is too easy for the losers to mimic… I’ve played “hard to get” with Salma Hayek for years, yet this reticence paid few dividends, not even a courtesy email or party invitation.

No, Tyler. “Hard to get” isn’t a signal, it’s a screen. When Salma finally turns up on your doorstep, you’ll know for sure that she’s serious about you.

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