Here’s a true conversation between me and Tyler Cowen, filtered through several years of memory:

Tyler: People like to think they’re special, but we’re all pretty much the same.

Me: No we’re not. Some people are really great; others are simply awful.

Tyler: That’s just the kind of thing people say to make themselves feel special.

Me: You don’t really believe that.

Tyler: Do too.

Me: What if we use the metric of your willingness-to-pay to spend an hour with a person? There are a few awesome people you would pay thousands of dollars to meet. But you’d pay hundreds of dollars to avoid an hour with most people.

Tyler: [3-second hesitation.] Well, it’s not clear why that should be the relevant metric.

Me: But it’s your metric!

Tyler: What’s so special about my metric?

Me: What’s so special about it? By definition, that metric captures everything that you think matters. And by that very metric, people are not “pretty much the same.” They’re incredibly different.

I don’t remember what Tyler said next. I’m sure, though, that it wasn’t “You’re right, I take it all back!” But shouldn’t it have been?