Prizes, mindfulness and some very strange dice

17th May, 2021

Bestsellers. If you bought a copy of How To Make The World Add Up in paperback publication week – thank you, especially since the book was announced as a Sunday Times bestseller yesterday. I am so delighted and so grateful for the support; the Sunday Times bestseller list is often packed with self-help books and celebrity biographies: for a serious book about ideas, it is harder to reach than you might imagine. Thank you again.

Another shout out for Extra Life: I’m interviewing Steven Johnson later today about his new book “Extra Life”. The book is excellent; do drop in (5pm ET Monday 17 May at Politics & Prose, online).

The Data Detective Challenge: The “superforecasting” folks at the Good Judgement Project have launched The Data Detective Challenge, inspired by the US edition of my book. If you fancy yourself a forecaster, take a look and see how you get one. (There’s a video there with my forecasting tips, for what they are worth.)

Mindfulness. This week I picked up the classic “Mindfulness” by the academic psychologist Ellen Langer. It’s SO INTERESTING. Full of counterintutions and eye-catching experimental results. (To pick just one example: People who disliked football / opera enjoyed the experience increasing when asked to watch and note down one, three or six new things they noticed.) I also heard about “the Coolidge effect” for the first time… interesting!

Noise. Last week’s conversation between me and Danny Kahneman was a smash hit for the FT Weekend last week. I’m not surprised; Danny was so charming and fascinating. His new book, with Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein, is “Noise“. It’s out tomorrow, and it’s full of only-obvious-in-hindsight ideas.

Prizes! I was honoured to be named as “Best Radio Contributor 2020” by the Voice of the Listener and Viewer. When you look at previous winners the honour multiplies. I’m very grateful and (although I know everyone says this sort of thing, it’s really true) More or Less is and How To Vaccinate The World was very much a team effort. My producers (Sandra Kanthal, Kate Lamble, Charlotte McDonald, Richard Vadon and many others) devote a lot of time and skill to making me look wiser than I have any right to look.

I’ve also been shortlisted for the Wincott Awards both as Journalist of the Year and for Data Journalism of the year. The winners are announced later this week – wish me luck! Given the quality of the competition I’m not optimistic about my chances but I am chuffed to bits to be on the shortlist.

Dice. Who could not love these dice? I particularly liked the d12 that is more like a d10 with a small zero fact, and a small infinity face.

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