The current paper examines the opinion article “This is the kind of storytelling that economics needs,” published on September 7, 2022, by Peter Coy. The author argues that economics is highly rational, and the lack of creativity and flexibility might lead to undesired outcomes. In his opinion, it reflects the current situation in the academic field since Coy openly criticizes the present trends in economics. He condemns the vast emphasis on logic and rational expectations. As a result, the two sides of the argument include traditional economists and supporters of Coy’s position who think that economics needs more creative incentives. Ultimately, the article’s primary claim is that economists should read more science fiction to push their creativity to extremes and help them make better decisions in financial analysis.
Considering the publicist style of the article, Coy writes for a broad audience, appealing both to knowledgeable readers and people with little understanding of economics. In the text, there is a large number of exclamations and rhetorical questions to keep the audience’s attention and stir their creativity. For instance, “what if money went away?” is an atypical sentence in an article about economics, but it is beneficial for discussing creativity (Coy, 2022, par. 4). Moreover, it transparently shows that the intended audience is broad, does not have deep knowledge about the topic, and requires additional motivation and incentives to keep reading. Naturally, economists can benefit from the article as well, but the easy-to-read writing style and specific appeal make the report overly general and introductory for a knowledgeable audience.
The three modes of persuasion – Ethos, Pathos, and Logos – are present in the article. The former is an appeal to the character, and Coy makes sure to publish his opinion in the position of an expert. In other words, he transparently shows the readers that he is competent in the topic by revealing his connection to relevant personas in the industry. For instance, phrases like “My colleague Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate economist, is famous in sci-fi circles” create a sense of credibility (Coy, 2022, par. 10). It shows a direct connection between Coy and a Nobel laureate, who must be competent in the topic by the definition of the Nobel prize.
Pathos is another appeal that Coy actively uses in the article. The author appeals to emotion by criticizing the existing trends and realities of economics, calling them “unimaginative” and using phrases like “bloodless world of rational expectations” (Coy, 2022, par. 13). Moreover, Mythos is present in the article since the author tells a complete and organized story about creativity in economics. On the other hand, Kairos is less prominent because this argument has been a relevant topic for decades, and there is no “timeliness” appeal. The most dominant appeal is Pathos, as Coy uses an emotional approach in all arguments, criticizing and praising various sub-themes in the discussion.
Premises and Supporting Evidence: Logos
Logos is the third prominent strategy – appeal to logic. In the article, Coy (2022) uses it by referencing the opinions of relevant figures in economics, such as Paul Krugman, Ha-Joon Chang, and William Davies. Namely, these references support the premise that economics needs more creativity, as the present state of the field lacks flexibility, according to the author (Coy, 2022). Moreover, Coy believes that pushing imagination to extreme levels might help mitigate financial crises in the future. For instance, if the currency ceases to exist or people invent a way to travel with the speed of light, these innovations will drastically change economics. Coy believes that reading sci-fi will not only enhance economists’ creativity but also provide thought-provoking challenges that reflect the potential situations in the future. Ultimately, the author appeals to logic by providing a direct relation between sci-fi and creativity in economics.
Although Coy utilizes appeal to logic in the article, it has the least supporting evidence for conveying the author’s position. The author creates a seemingly solid link between logical explanations and creativity in economics, but this evidence is primarily based on the credibility of other economists he references. In other words, one could perceive it as a rhetorical maneuver to substitute actual Logos with Ethos and Pathos. The article does not contain primary evidence about the importance of creativity in economics – it only has secondary proof in the form of opinions and life experiences. Although Nobel laureates and academic professors are credible sources, there is no statistical data or empirical research to prove Coy’s position. To mitigate this lack of appeal to logic, Coy uses rhetorical questions, direct messages to the readers, hyperboles, and metaphors. The most illustrative examples are “bloodless world of rational expectations” and “(economics) is science fiction, minus the death rays” (Coy, 2022, par. 12-13). In summary, these rhetorical devices are effective and convey a specific message, but they are also necessary to conceal lacking Logos in the article.
Appeal to emotion is the most transparent strategy in the article, and it is evident in the form of shared values and beliefs. Coy appeals to readers’ emotions via direct messages and relating to their lives. For instance, “you’re writing your own little economic sci-fi stories many times a day” is the appeal to the shared lifestyle of many people (Coy, 2022, par. 11). Most adults are making financial decisions daily and estimate their potential outcomes. Coy appeals to this shared value, calling it “a little economic sci-fi story” (Coy, 2022, par. 11). This approach creates a strong connection between the author and the readers who can relate to the topic because it is something that happens daily in their own lives. As a result, the appeal of shared beliefs is an effective instrument of Pathos to make readers more invested in the article and persuade them to take the author’s position.
Attitude and Style
As seen from the previous chapter, Coy’s writing style and attitude imply a strong connection between the author and the readers. In addition, emphasis on characters and citations makes readers believe in the credibility of the presented information. The tone of the article might seem dismissive at times, as Coy criticizes the present inflexible structure of economics. “Unimaginative/ believe that they (economists) are practicing science/ fanciful analyses of possible costs and benefits” are phrases that downplay the actual efforts of working professionals (Coy, 2022). This tone and attitude create a sense that what economists are doing is valueless and impractical. It is highly likely that Coy uses this approach to emphasize the problem of creativity in economics and persuade readers of the author’s position, but the exaggeration of the issue might sound overly harsh at times to some readers.
In his article, Peter Coy explained the issue of creativity in economics in an easy-to-understand language and publicist style. The primary weakness of the report is the lacking appeal to logic. Coy actively references credible sources to support his narrative, but all of them appeal to emotions and characters while ignoring factual information. This approach is most likely intended since the article’s primary objective is to present an argument for a broad audience with scarce knowledge in economics. Hence, it does not necessarily change the premises, but the readers should understand that it is a beginner-oriented article that presents only one side of the discussion. Moreover, it is the primary fallacy of the report, implying that readers might perceive it as an absolute truth since the author does not explicitly clarify this issue.
Considering all of the above, the argument is relatively successful in persuading a non-knowledgeable audience and even providing curious information for competent economists. The disproportioned balance between Ethos/Pathos and Logos should be considered when reading the argument. Referencing Nobel laureates and prominent professors might sway the reader’s opinion, but there is little factual information to support the paper’s main claim. My first reaction to the article was centered precisely on a lack of logic chains and statistical data to support the evidence. However, considering that the report is a professional opinion and not a factual analysis, I believe that Peter Coy demonstrated exemplary persuasion abilities. The intelligent usage of Ethos, Pathos, and rhetorical maneuvers makes readers captivated by the topic and relate to the author’s position. Ultimately, the examined article is an excellent example of a professional opinion written in a publicist style, successful in persuading the readers of the author’s position.
Coy, P. (2022). This is the kind of storytelling that economics needs. The New York Times. Web.