In conversation with David Spiegelhalter, and the power of checklists

5th April, 2021

A few weeks ago Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and I sat down to talk about “what do the numbers mean?”, courtesy of the Cambridge Festival. The conversation is now online – enjoy!

I am popping with delight at the news that I have been shortlisted for Journalist of the Year by the Wincott Foundation. Some of the most wonderful business and economics journalists in the world have won this award, and I’ve never been close before. I’m honoured.

The book grabbing my attention this week is Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto. It’s been on my bookshelf for years and I’ve taken delayed gratification a little too far. It is, as expected, a superlative read, full of good stories and fascinating examples, and Gawande makes a powerful case for the effectiveness of using checklists in a suprising range of circumstances. He ranges from rock concerts through restaurant kichens and the building of a skyscraper – and of course, medicine. One of the surprising insights was the use of a communication checklist: the idea of ensuring that the right people talk to each other at the right moments. Strongly recommended.

My new book, “The Data Detective” was published in the US/Canada on 2nd February. (Elsewhere the same book is titled “How To Make The World Add Up”.)

“Nobody makes the statistics of everyday life more fascinating and enjoyable than Tim Harford.”- Bill Bryson

“This entertaining, engrossing book about the power of numbers, logic and genuine curiosity”- Maria Konnikova

I’ve set up a storefront on Bookshop in the United States and the United Kingdom – have a look and see all my recommendations; Bookshop is set up to support local independent retailers.

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