One Productivity Problem: We're Only Human

According to Tyler Cowen's article "One Productivity Problem: We're Only Human,"According to Tyler Cowen's article "One Productivity Problem: We're Only Human," published on May 3rd, 2017, people are not the only ones to blame for the lack of productivity, and community-based organizations are not always the most effective approach to growth (Cowen, 2017).

Lack of Neutrality

This critical essay's goal is to identify and examine Tyler Cowen's ideas' viability while contrasting them with other information that would suggest otherwise. The essay will go through a few important ideas that are provided in the article. From the onset, Tyler Cowen makes several assumptions that some readers would find misleading and lacking neutrality ("How to Evaluate Journal Articles" 2017).

Disadvantages of Not Working in Communities

Firstly, the article lacks neutrality when the subtitle projects two assumptions in that "we are not great at following rules, and we work better in communities." (Cowen, 2017) The author does not provide any evidence in the form of data or statistics to support the stated claims which make the reader question the validity of the statement. Secondly, while it is true that some people are repellant to rules and regulations, a majority of Americans work in successful organizations, corporations and business settings that are run within some preset rules to enhance productivity and optimize growth. The author does not also provide any empirical evidence indicating the disadvantages of not working in communities. A reader may argue that individualism is a familiar concept in society today and it encourages competition leading to better results in the overall work done in communities, organizations, and businesses. Thirdly, the author assumes a perfection form of the proposed systems of communities such as using online space to pass information from a teacher to a classroom. The implementation of online learning is not a new phenomenon in the US, and it has its advantages and limitations with regards to the passage of accurate information, infrastructural challenges and information distortion as opposed to face-to-face communication.

Readers' Evaluation of the Article

Readers such as medical professionals conversant with information from various aspects that Tyler Cowen uses as examples can spot inaccurate information in the article ("Evaluating Articles", 2015). For example, the author relates the low returns from developing anti-diabetic to "many diabetics don't follow the proper regimen of diet and medication to control their blood sugar" and asserts people to be the "main problem." (Cowen, 2017). Medical professionals have conducted studies which reveal that primary causes of diseases are beyond human control. Factors such as genetic makeup, the environment, the lifestyle, and other conditions, social and economic factors can be reasons for poor health outcomes for people with diabetes ("Diabetes: About the Disease" 2012), thus, the article lacks original research evident by lack of any citation of other sources by the author.

The author does not seem to consider any other factors except the "human problem" in analyzing reasons behind low productivity and thus makes a generalization that changing human behavior would remedy productivity. For example, a reader can find it faulty for the author to propose proper "discipline" as a solution for "health care sector" and disregard aspects such as proper funding, government policy, etc. Therefore, generalization in the article leads to misrepresentation of facts and thus misinformation to the reader and thus editorial bias ("How to Evaluate Journal Articles" 2017).

Contradicting Ideas

One of the critical factors of writing is the convergence of all ideas presented by the author to support the proposed thesis statement. According to Cowen (2017), the members of the audience in a classroom do not connect during an online presentation which reduces the relevance of the speaker's message. However, the author gives a contradicting idea by stating that the advantage of watching Paul McCartney on a projected screen, as opposed to watching the artist perform, was sharing the experience with other viewers which created more enjoyment thus productivity (Cowen, 2017). The reader is confused how the limitation of online space in a classroom regarding connecting the members of the audience becomes an advantage in a concert scenario and the article is seen as unstable ("How to Evaluate Journal Articles" 2017). A student or an event planner may identify with the examples offered by the author, but an outsider will find it difficult to understand the information since there is no comparative advantage of online settings as a means of disseminating information.

Lack of Empirical Evidence

There are significant examples cited to stress the various points of the article. The author presents a broad range of information to draw conclusions and represents the intended message, but most of the examples lack empirical evidence to support the claims and thus amounts to vague and unclear information. For example, the article indicates that location of high-productivity companies in Silicon Valley and Manhattan "raises rent, limits migration and curtails productivity." The author does not provide evidence to explain how high rent rates limits immigration and results to low productivity.

The author relates the high cost of rent and limited migration to low productivity in companies in Silicon Valley and Manhattan. One may find the article heading "One Productivity Problem: We're only Human" as contradictory since the factors mentioned above are not human related, and thus the reader may conclude that there is not only one productivity problem and it is not that we are only human thus editorial bias (Cowen, 2017).

It is challenging for the reader to understand the correlation between rent, migration, and productivity because Cowen does not provide a relationship. The author adopts a vague and an unclear tone in the presentation of information while drawing comparisons that are confusing to the reader in a bid to understand how humans are the primary cause of low productivity. For example, the author claims that face-to-face communication shapes geographical distribution of economic activities (Cowen, 2017). The author does not offer an explanation to the allegation which compares two different points that are utterly unrelated, thus vague and unclear information which lack usability in the context of the topic ("Evaluating Articles", 2015).

Shallow Presentation of Solutions

Proper definition of keywords, phrases, and their density is necessary to pass the message intended in any online writing ("Evaluating Articles", 2015). The article by Cowen has a shallow presentation of solutions to the challenges of low productivity, and the author does not relate the concepts to the discussion topic using elaborate key words and phrases. For example, there is a shallow explanation of individual stoic philosophy and how it is related to community organization as a better mode of productivity.


There are numerous challenges to high productivity, but the imperfections of people are not solely to blame. The article is deficient of a holistic approach to the causes of low productivity and lacks compelling evidence showing the advantages of communities thus it may be considered to lack credibility. Therefore, one would be right to assert that people are not solely to blame for lack of productivity and, community organization is not always the most efficient way to growth.


Cowen, T. (2017). One Productivity Problem: We’re Only Human. Bloomberg. Web. [ human]. Accessed 26 May 2017.

“Diabetes: About the Disease.” (2012). Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Web. []. Accessed 22 May 2017.

Evaluating Articles. (2015). Southern Utah University. Web. [ tips/Evaluating-Articles.html]. Accessed 26 May 2017.

How to Evaluate Journal Articles. (2017). Colorado State University. Web. []. Accessed 26 May 2017.

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