How to Make the World Add Up

We review the third of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year


Tim Harford is an economics and journalist, and the presenter of More or Less and How to Vaccinate the World on BBC Radio 4. His latest book, How to Make the World Add Up (Amazon UK, Waterstones, Maths Gear (signed)), is a book about making sense of statistical claims about the world around us.


Fans of Tim Harford will be unsurprised to find that How to Make the World Add Up is an enjoyable read: it has the same informative and entertaining tone as his other books and programmes.


How to Make the World Add Up puts its points across very clearly, and the ideas contained in each chapter are made more concrete through anecdotes about situations where the topic of the chapter was relevant.


Statistics are often misused. As the introduction of this book points out, there is a danger that this can lead to a general distrust of numbers in the news. In the current times, however, it is increasingly important that we can trust statistical claims about virus spread and vaccines, while being distrustful of incorrect claims. This books aims to show the reader ways in which they can work out what to trust, while remaining sceptical when claims are too-good-to-be-true (or too-bad-to-be-true). In a world where mathematical and statistical claims are so much more visible than we are used to, this is a particularly important book.


I would very strongly recommend this book to fans of More or Less, as if you enjoy it then you’ll certainly be a enjoy this book. If you’re not a fan of More or Less, then reading this book might lead you to becoming a fan of More or Less.

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