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How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers Paperback – 6 May 2021
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THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
'Tim Harford is one of my favourite writers in the world. His storytelling is gripping but never overdone, his intellectual honesty is rare and inspiring, and his ability to make complex things simple - but not simplistic - is exceptional. How to Make the World Add Up is another one of his gems. If you're looking for an addictive pageturner that will make you smarter, this is your book' Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind
'Tim Harford could well be Britain's Malcolm Gladwell'
Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland
'If you aren't in love with stats before reading this book, you will be by the time you're done. Powerful, persuasive, and in these truth-defying times, indispensable'
Caroline Criado Perez, author of Invisible Women
In How to Make the World Add Up, Tim Harford draws on his experience as both an economist and presenter of the BBC's radio show 'More or Less' to take us deep into the world of disinformation and obfuscation, bad research and misplaced motivation to find those priceless jewels of data and analysis that make communicating with numbers so rewarding. Through vivid storytelling he reveals how we can evaluate the claims that surround us with confidence, curiosity and a healthy level of scepticism. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about understanding the world around them.
'Tim Harford is our most likeable champion of reason and rigour . . . clear, clever and always highly readable'
The Times, Books of the Year
'Fascinating and enjoyable'
'Now more than ever we need a book like this'
'Wise, humane and, above all, illuminating. Nobody is better on statistics and numbers - and how to make sense of them'
'One of the most wonderful collections of stories that I have read in a long time . . . fascinating.'
Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'Wise and useful . . . such a delight'
'What should we do when someone makes a claim that they say is based on data? This wise book, distilled from years of experience, gives us the ten commandments, from first examining our feelings, to finally having the humility to admit we may be wrong. Priceless'
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
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How often do you read a blurb that says 'this book is so timely' or 'now more than ever we need a book like this'? But I promise you, by all that I hold sacred, this has never been truer of any book than it is of HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD ADD UP. We are supremely lucky to have the fabulously readable, lucid, witty and authoritative Tim Harford to remind us why facts, reason, numbers, clarity and truth matter, how beautiful they are and how crucial to our understanding of the natural world and human society. Without the kind of purity and honesty of approach that he stands for the world is doomed. Every politician and journalist should be made to read this book, but everyone else will get so much pleasure and draw so much strength from the joyful way it dispels the clouds of deceit and delusion -- Stephen Fry
He's a genius at telling stories that illuminate our world -- Malcolm Gladwell
An immensely enjoyable guide to using statistics wisely. I loved it -- Matt Parker, author of HUMBLE PI
If you aren't in love with stats before reading this book, you will be by the time you're done. Powerful, persuasive, and in these truth-defying times, indispensable -- Caroline Criado Perez, author of INVISIBLE WOMEN
We live in a world that is awash with statistics, but what should we do when someone makes a claim that they say is based on data? This wise book, distilled from years of experience, gives us the ten commandments, from first examining our feelings, to finally having the humility to admit we may be wrong. Priceless -- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
Tim Harford is one of the finest writers of nonfiction. This is another brilliant read: wise, humane and, above all, illuminating. Nobody is better on statistics and numbers - and how to make sense of them -- Matthew Syed, author of REBEL IDEAS
Few people write about social science with the clarity and wit of Tim Harford. If you're staggered by statistics or daunted by data, this entertaining romp of a book is essential reading -- Daniel H. Pink ― author of WHEN and DRIVE
Thanks to Tim Harford's characteristic wit and magnetic storytelling, you may not realise you're getting an advanced course in how to understand the kind of statistics we're all faced with everyday. HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD ADD UP is certainly a fun book to read, but it's also a genuinely important one -- David Epstein ― author of RANGE
In a world where we are worried about misinformation, Harford gives us a brilliant guide which teaches us how to be sceptical without being cynical, and to see that statistics are not scary, but a rare treasure that help us understand our society -- Professor Hetan Shah, chief executive of the British Academy
Wise and useful ... such a delight ― Financial Times
Tim Harford is one of my favourite writers in the world. His storytelling is gripping but never overdone, his intellectual honesty is rare and inspiring, and his ability to make complex things simple - but not simplistic - is exceptional. How to Make the World Add Up is another one of his gems. If you're looking for an addictive pageturner that will make you smarter, this is your book -- Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind
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But with the recent growth in mistrust of the scientific method and the numerical data it reliably generates, the book also gives us an important lesson. Through case studies and well-reasoned argument, Harford demonstrates not just that the world can be understood with the aid of numbers, but that we must be careful of our own reaction to what those numbers tell us and the context in which they are presented.
Some elements of Harford's excellent Cautionary Tales podcast appear in the pages of this book and it is all the better for that. If we misconstrue, or worse deliberately misuse, data then unintended consequences can result in the sort of damage we would most certainly prefer to avoid. How to Make the World Add Up is a warning, a lesson - and a reassuring hug - all at once.
Kahneman's writings have in fact given rise to a whole generation of financial and betting market pundits who have fooled themselves into believing that they have the capacity to develop a capability to tap into their unconscious processes and to develop better executive functions and low impulsivity in risk/reward environments than other traders; these people believe themselves to be less susceptible to biasing influences than others - as far as they are concerned mistakes in deductive and inductive reasoning (decision making deficits) happen to other people. The problem is simple, they are great at constructing models but they are no better than the next man at actually predicting the future.
The Superforecasters, to a man failed to predict Brexit and Trump - the book does not deal with this. They were "less wrong" - which means that they ascribed a probability to an event outcome and the event happened.
In nuce, one is left to conclude that Harford is capitalising upon the wave of homophily that his book sets out to castigate. Birds of a feather and all of that.
This book, however, has something extra. It has passion. It is an important book. It is a book for our times, a vital book. Tim H's commitment to truth and facts shines through these pages. He's not just revealing how we can be lied to - he's equipping us for modern life, providing a tool kit to cut through the lies and falsehoods which otherwise threaten to overwhelm you in social media, news and politics. Whatever your world view, this book will help you see things more clearly. It really is that good. And you'll have fun reading it too, thanks to Tim's polished storytelling and excellent selection of snippets from all over human History and behaviour.