The Best of Tim Harford
10+ most popular Tim Harford articles, as voted by our community.
Author How To Make The World Add Up (UK) / The Data Detective (US). Cautionary Tales podcast. Undercover Economist at the FT. BBC More or Less. Views my own.
These are currently making the rounds on Refind.
Lockdowns are over. WFH isn’t. Why?
Each February, the team at NPR’s fabulous Planet Money podcast announce their Valentines, nerdy love letters to under-appreciated data releases or obscure supply-chain trackers. This year, co-host …
Tim Harford on Economy
How to tax (a guide for governments)
In 1789, an octogenarian Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter containing the famous opinion that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. Franklin was mistaken. Many t…
Five ideas that might actually boost UK growth
Last week, I made the case that economic growth matters and raising the rate of growth is an admirable goal for any politician. I also complained that Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng didn’t seem to kn…
Tim Harford on Inflation
What we keep getting wrong about inflation
What is inflation? The answer seems obvious: when things get more expensive, that’s inflation, and it’s bad. But an alternative view is Milton Friedman’s. In a talk in 1963, the hugely influential …
Tim Harford on Magic
What magic teaches us about misinformation
“The things right in front of us are often the hardest to see,” declares Apollo Robbins, the world’s most famous theatrical pickpocket. “The things you look at every day, that you’re blinded to.” A…
Tim Harford on Personal Finance
How much money will actually make you happy?
When I was a student, a friend of mine fantasised about earning £100 a day. It felt like an incomprehensibly large sum of money; he simply could not conceive of spending enough to exhaust such rich…
What economists get wrong about personal finance
In my defence, I didn’t get into financial trouble immediately after finishing my master’s degree in economics. It took months. I had a decently paid graduate job and was living within my means, so…
Tim Harford on Quiet Quitting
Quitting is underrated
“I am a fighter and not a quitter,” said Liz Truss, the day before quitting. She was echoing the words of Peter Mandelson MP over two decades ago, although Mandelson had the good sense to speak aft…
Tim Harford on Society
Has 21st century policy gone medieval?
Criminal justice has always been a source of knotty problems. How to punish the guilty while sparing the innocent? Trial by ordeal was a neat solution: delegate the decision to God. In the Middle A…
Is life in the UK really as bad as the numbers suggest? Yes, it is
At a time of shortages, we are certainly not short of gloomy economic forecasts. The Resolution Foundation think-tank notes that average real earnings have fallen by 7 per cent since a year ago and…
Tim Harford on Wealth
Does winning the lottery actually ruin your life?
At the start of the graphic novel Bloke’s Progress, our everyday hero Darren Bloke isn’t coping with the everyday stresses of life. He has a tedious job, a grinding commute, squalling children and …
These are some all-time favorites with Refind users.
How to really change someone’s mind
I’ve been thinking recently about three debates. In the first, which took place in January 2016, two Harvard students, Fanele Mashwama and Bo Seo, proposed that “the world’s poor would be justified…
«McRaney suggests that most people believe what they believe based on social cues and that this is a reasonable way for social primates to conduct themselves.»
Your phone’s notification settings and the meaning of life
Switching to a new phone is easy enough these days. The wheezing older model formed a huddle with the shiny oversized new thing, and within a few minutes had effected a near-complete digital handov…
«“At the end of your life, looking back, whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment is simply what your life will have been.”»
It’s the uncertainty, not the delay, that gets you in the end
I first began to conceive of this column three and a half hours before typing these words, as I stood with my wife and children in an impossibly long queue for the Eurostar, snaking across Gare du …
Even when you do succeed, sometimes it pays to try again
If at first you don’t succeed, goes the old saying, try, try again. Good advice, up to a point. But let me offer a modification: even when you do succeed, try, try again. Tempting as it is to decla…
A Warhol, a wild back story, and the price of authenticity
Andy Warhol once gave a silkscreen portrait of Marilyn Monroe to a sceptical friend. Keep it safe in a closet, said Warhol: “One day it will be worth a million dollars.” Perhaps he undersold himsel…
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