How to Make the World Add Up
THE SUNDAY TIMES BUSINESS BESTSELLER
‘Harford is our most likeable champion of reason and rigour… clear, clever and always highly readable’ Times’ Books of the Year
‘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
‘Nobody makes the statistics of everyday life more fascinating and enjoyable than Tim Harford’
‘Fabulously readable, lucid, witty and authoritative . . . 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’
‘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.”
Stephen Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
When was the last time you read a grand statement, accompanied by a large number, and wondered whether it could really be true? Statistics are vital in helping us tell stories – we see them in the papers, on social media, and we hear them used in everyday conversation – and yet we doubt them more than ever.
But numbers – in the right hands – have the power to change the world for the better. Contrary to popular belief, good statistics are not a trick, although they are a kind of magic. Good statistics are not smoke and mirrors; in fact, they help us see more clearly. Good statistics are like a telescope for an astronomer, a microscope for a bacteriologist, or an X-ray for a radiologist. If we are willing to let them, good statistics help us see things about the world around us and about ourselves – both large and small – that we would not be able to see in any other way.
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’. He takes 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 worthwhile. Harford’s characters range from the art forger who conned the Nazis to the stripper who fell in love with the most powerful congressman in Washington, to famous data detectives such as John Maynard Keynes, Daniel Kahneman and Florence Nightingale. He reveals how we can evaluate the claims that surround us with confidence, curiosity and a healthy level of scepticism.
Using ten simple rules for understanding numbers – plus one golden rule – this extraordinarily insightful book shows how if we keep our wits about us, thinking carefully about the way numbers are sourced and presented, we can look around us and see with crystal clarity how the world adds up.
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 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 * 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 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 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 An immensely enjoyable guide to using statistics wisely. I loved it -- Matt Parker, author of HUMBLE PI He's a genius at telling stories that illuminate our world -- Malcolm Gladwell 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 Nobody makes the statistics of everyday life more fascinating and enjoyable than Tim Harford -- Bill Bryson
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