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Publisher's Summary

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 10 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.

©2020 Tim Harford (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"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)

"...lucid, witty and authoritative.... Every politician and journalist should be made to [listen to] 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)

What listeners say about How to Make the World Add Up

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Certainly delivered on the Title

An entertaining and useful insight on how statistics can enhance my understanding of the world. Some useful observations and suggestions too.

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A 10 hour episode of More Or Less.

A handy book for fans of BBCs More Or Less and also NPRs Planet Money. Also suitable for fans of No Such Thing As A Fish.

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  • Hamster
  • 19-09-2020

Climate change

There's good reason to be skeptical about reported use of 'science' and indeed the author gives us many, but early on in the book he gives the impression climate change science is inviolate. In fact the climate change industry/religion is very much motivated to show only one side. Its disappointing to hear this bias, but otherwise a good listen.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-10-2020

Fascinating stories and insights

I love More or Less so this was right up my street. Well written and narrated by Tim Harford, it kept my attention throughout. I do feel a bit like I can't trust anything I read or hear any more but I have some good questions to ask and ways to think about things

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  • Man-O-War1977
  • 29-09-2020

Brilliant

A very accessible, intresting and informative romp through how to assess the myriad of numbers and situations that we are all faced with today. His core message, that we all need to stay curious rather than cynical, is brilliantly conveyed. Well worth your time

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  • D. Cottam
  • 24-11-2020

A Cautionary Tale

Tim Harford is that rare creature, an engaging, fair minded man who can inform and entertain at the same time. He explores the world of data interpretation with wit and wisdom spicing the narration with fascinating histories and anecdotes. He uses vivid parables to illuminate some basic rules and pitfalls to consider when looking at data and statistics.

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  • C. Osborne
  • 21-11-2020

Be curious, people

A mind-opening and engaging treatment for the myopia that afflicts so much of the world, and the thinking in the world, today. The last chapter, in particular, should be mandatory listening / reading for all people afflicted with extreme, and uninformed, political thinking (on whichever end of the spectrum).

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  • Myke
  • 14-11-2020

Brilliant... A must read book

A very thought provoking guide to dealing with a world in which we are constantly bombarded with facts an figures. This book will give the tools to make your own assessment... and hopefully be more curious to find the real truth.

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  • Duncan Fitzhowle
  • 14-11-2020

Everything to be expected from Tim Harford

The perfect primer for anyone who is daunted by or doubts the relevance and importance of statistics. Ten rules to live by. Excellent.

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  • Janeb
  • 08-11-2020

Very engaging

Harford tells great stories to make the issues and ideas come to life. Accessible but not dumbed down.

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  • Megan
  • 07-11-2020

Wonderful book

Really enjoyed this book, an easy listen, beautifully read, and a book that is especially nourishing for our times.

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  • Chris J
  • 06-11-2020

Stats explained - perfectly

Great book, easy to take in even though its a complex subject. Lots of real life examples too.

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