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.
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.
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
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.
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). — Read the rest
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Economist Tim Harford writes about holidaying in prosperous Bavaria, where hotels let you run up bills of €1000+ without a credit-card and all room-keys are stored in a cupboard where any guest can get at them, and asks how this can all work without being destroyed by dishonesty? — Read the rest
Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics, a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives analyzes the economics of hosting the Olympics, indicting the numbers game played by bid committees and the IOC.
On the BBC's More or Less podcast (previously), Tim Harford and his team carefully unpick the numerical claims made by both sides in the UK/EU referendum debate.
Economist Tim Harford attacks three of the statistics being widely cited in the campaigns over the upcoming referendum on the UK remaining in the EU, two from the "leave" camp and one from the "stay" camp.
Much of economics is both esoteric and vital, meaning you need to understand it, but it's hard sledding. Today, economist Tim Harford does us the service of explaining "dissipation of economic rents" — inefficient systems in which the effort expended by everyone chasing value wipes out the value they're chasing.
Tim Harford (previously) writes, "My TED talk just went live – among other things it's about Bowie and Eno's creative process on the Berlin albums. It's rather sadly timed but I hope you like it."
The deaths from terrorism are unspeakable tragedies. It goes without saying. But the mortality due to terrorism — total deaths per capita — are very low, lower than car-wrecks or traditional murder. Likewise, the costs from terrorism — damage to physical structures, damage to economies — are high, but, when you look at the numbers, you find they're just not that high.
Tim Harford, the Financial Times's Undercover Economist, writes about the Happy Birthday to You court case, which finally settled the question of whether the familiar birthday song was still in copyright (it isn't) and uses that as a springboard to ask the question: how long should copyright last?
It's not making software that can solve our problems: it's figuring out how to pose those problems so that the software doesn't bite us in the ass.