Sweet Talk with Deirdre McCloskey

In the first of a series of interviews, we speak to Deirdre McCloskey, professor of Economics, History, English and Communication – as well author of several books, including one specifically on writing for economists.

You can watch the full interview Sweet Talk (5mins) below. McCloskey’s main point is that it’s not enough to simply convey – you also have to convince. The job of economists is to change people’s minds: that requires ‘sweet talk’. Here are some key takeaways:

  • It’s not easy – you need to practice.
  • Talk to your mother. (Assuming she’s not an economist.) Try to explain your idea to anyone who isn’t an economist. If they don’t understand it, then you need to try again. Keep practising.
  • Be concrete. Tell stories. Use homely examples that are real and meaningful to people. Stories can illuminate the meaning — and often you get more insights yourself.
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