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Tim Harford writes the Undercover Economist column, and was previously an economics leader writer for the FT. He first joined the newspaper as Peter Martin Fellow in 2003.
Tim is the author of nine books, including the million-selling The Undercover Economist and most recently How To Make The World Add Up. He is also a regular presenter for BBC radio.
He was made an OBE in the 2019 new year honours list “for services to improving economic understanding”.
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‘The Vulcan is a dramatic portrayal of the mistakes economists make in assuming everyone is rational’
‘While dissent leads to better decisions, it also leads to discomfort. Disagreement is valuable but agreement feels so much more comfortable’
‘While the library and pool were in full plague mode, I also visited a bustling restaurant that was so normal as to be disorienting’
‘We approve of boundless IP for nice people and none at all for scoundrels. That is not much of a policy’
‘It’s hard to grasp the possibility that we might adapt. Yet we do and we will’
The Nobel-winning psychologist on behavioural economics, human error and why he doesn’t see himself as a guru
Fake news, like conjuring, plays on our weaknesses — but with a little attention, we can fight back
‘Keynes had a knack for making his risks pay off. When he died in 1946, he owned £400,000 in stocks and securities’
‘Debating sometimes pretends to be a search for the truth, but the real goal is not truth but victory’
‘A fragile statistical infrastructure can mean the difference between life and death for millions’
‘For the entire winter wave, one day’s delay to being vaccinated has been riskier than vaccine itself’
‘We can adapt in extraordinary ways if we must and if we are willing to make big sacrifices for the common good’
‘Without diminishing its terrible health and economic costs, there are also reasons to be cheerful’
‘Email celebrates its 50th birthday this year yet it is hard to think of a more aggravating workplace practice’
‘If you show us images of selfish covidiots, we are more likely to be selfish. Show us noble altruists and we aspire to be like them’
‘Tools such as computers tempt highly skilled, highly paid people to noodle around making bad slides’
There is something powerful about the idea that until the lockdowns can be eased for everyone, they should be eased for nobody
‘The stories of Jansky, Mendel and Bayes hold out hope to anyone who feels that the world has not quite caught up with them’
‘There have been moments when 1.5bn children were missing school. This is apocalyptic’
‘Manufacturers expected to produce 800 million doses by the end of 2020. The reality was 20 million to 30 million’
‘Without good information, we can’t track Covid cases, see which hospitals need help — or rebuild the economy’
Only now are the first vaccines starting to reduce the death toll — and we should see major progress soon
Whether believing implausible statistics or falling for frauds, humans are addicted to wishful thinking
Diversions, political polarisation and conspiracy thinking have all contributed to this new era
Most famous as a nurse, her innovative use of data helped also prevent many deaths from infectious diseases