"tim harford"

Britain's preferred car-loans are incomprehensible financialized garbage: what could go wrong?

Thinking of buying a car in the UK? Good news! You can get a personal contract purchase (PCP) and it will cost you less to buy a new Merc than it would to buy a used Ford Focus. Read the rest

London! I'll see you tonight on the Walkaway tour! (then Liverpool, Birmingham, and Hay...) (!)

Last night's kick-off event for the UK Walkaway tour was brilliant, thanks to the magic combination of the excellent Tim Harford, the excellent people of Oxford, and the excellent booksellers at Blackwells. Read the rest

Oxford, I'll see you tonight on the Walkaway tour (then London, Liverpool, Birmingham...) (!)

I'm in the UK for the British Walkaway tour, which kicks off tonight at 7PM in Oxford where I'll be in conversation with Tim Harford at Blackwells. Read the rest

Burbank: I'm coming to you today on the Walkaway tour! (then Oxford, London, Liverpool...) (!)

I took great advantage of my 36 hour hiatus from the Walkaway tour, but I'm back at it today, with a 2PM appearance at Burbank's Dark Delicacies, before I go straight to the airport to fly to the UK for my British tour. Read the rest

Vancouver, I'll see you at tonight's Walkaway tour stop (then Burbank, Oxford, London...) (!)

Many thanks to the good folks who came out to Bellingham's Village Books for last night's Walkaway event; tonight, I'll be appearing in Vancouver before flying home to Burbank for an event at my local Dark Delicacies on Saturday and then going straight to the airport for the start of my UK tour. Read the rest

See you tonight for the Walkaway tour stop in Bellingham! (then Vancouver, Burbank, Oxford...) (!)

Thanks to everyone (especially Neal Stephenson) who came out to last night's Walkaway event in Seattle: if you're in the area and couldn't make it, you get another chance tonight when I'll be at Bellingham's Village Books at 7PM. Read the rest

See you tonight at Powell's, Portland! (then Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver...) (!)

Yesterday's Walkaway event at San Diego's Mysterious Galaxy was terrific (there was birthday cake) and now I'm flying to Portland for an event at Powell's City of Books tonight with Andy "Waxy" Baio before heading to Seattle for an event with Neal Stephenson at the Neptune Theater, then a stop in Bellingham's Village Books. Read the rest

See you tonight, Scottsdale, AZ! (then San Diego, Portland, Seattle...) (!)

Thanks to everyone who came out to last night's Walkaway tour-stop at Houston's Brazos Books; I'm just arriving at the airport to fly to Phoenix for tonight's event at Scottsdale's Poisoned Pen Books with Brian David Johnson. Read the rest

Houston, I'll see you tonight on the Walkaway tour! (then Scottsdale, San Diego, Portland...) (!)

Thanks to everyone who turned up last night for a stellar event at Austin's Book People! I'm about to head to the airport to fly to Houston, where I'll appearing tonight at 7PM at Brazos Books, before heading to Scottsdale, AZ for appearance at Poisoned Pen (with Brian David Johnson) Read the rest

See you tonight in Winnipeg! (then Denver, Austin, Houston...) (!)

Thanks to everyone who's come out for the Walkaway tour so far! Tonight, I'll be appearing at Winnipeg's McNally Robinson bookstore, then it's off to Denver's Tattered Cover, Austin's Book People and Houston's Brazos Bookstore. Read the rest

Announcing the official UK Walkaway Tour!

My UK publisher, Head of Zeus, has published the official tour schedule for the British tour for Walkaway, with stops in Oxford (with Tim Harford), London (with Laurie Penny), Liverpool (with Chris Pak), Birmingham, and the Hay Literary Festival (with Dr Adam Rutherford). Hope to see you there! Read the rest

How Big Tobacco invented Donald Trump and Brexit (and what to do about it)

Economist Tim Harford (previously) traces the history of denialism and "fake news" back to Big Tobacco's cancer denial playbook, which invented the tactics used by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns to ride to victory -- a playbook that dismisses individual harms as "anaecdotal" and wide-ranging evidence as "statistical," and works in concert with peoples' biases (smokers don't want cigarettes to cause cancer, Brexiteers want the UK to be viable without the EU, Trump supporters want simple, cruel policies to punish others and help them) to make emprically wrong things feel right. Read the rest

Bank fraud and Dieselgate: how do we design regulations that are harder to cheat?

Tim Harford points out that Dieselgate -- when VW designed cars that tried to guess when they were undergoing emissions test and dial back their pollution -- wasn't the first time an industry designed its products to cheat when regulators were looking; the big banks did the same thing to beat the "stress tests" that finance regulators used to check whether they would collapse during economic downturns (the banks "made very specific, narrow bets designed to pay off gloriously in specific stress-test scenarios" so that they looked like they'd do better than they actually would). Read the rest

Brexit, Chicken and Ulysses Pacts: the negotiating theory behind the UK-EU stalemate

Ever since Thomas Schelling -- an advisor on Dr Strangelove! -- published his work on negotiating theory and nuclear deterrence, we've developed a rich vocabulary for describing negotiating tactics and their underlying theories. Read the rest

Messy: a celebration of improvisation and disorder as the keys to creativity, play, and work

Tim Harford's Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives plays to Harford's prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better.

Dennis the Dentist: on the unkillable wrongness of nominative determinism

In 2002, a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology claimed that men named "Dennis" were more likely to become dentists; people named "George" or "Georgina" were apt to become geologists; and people with surnames like "Diamond" and "Ricci" were more likely to become bankers. Read the rest

Messy: When automated anti-disaster systems make things worse, and what to do about it

"Undercover Economist" Tim Harford (previously) has a new book out, Messy, which makes a fascinating and compelling case that we are in real danger from the seductive neatness of computers, which put our messes out of sight, where they grow into great catastrophes. Read the rest

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