Tim tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.
Tim favours a strong narrative style of presentation, illuminating his argument with memorable stories. Some of his current popular speaking topics include:
How to See into the Future.
Two of the greatest economists in history failed to see the Wall Street Crash coming - yet one died a millionaire while the other died poor and alone. From this starting point, Tim explores the latest thinking on how to forecast, and what to do when your forecasts don’t work out.
The Art of Good Misstakes.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try again.” We’re so often told to learn from our mistakes that it’s become a cliché. But why is it so hard – and how can we do a better job? With stories and ideas from psychology and behavioural economics – as well as aviation, ballet and a TV game show – Tim describes the art of good mistakes. (TED talk here)
Preventing Financial Meltdowns.
Have we learned the right lessons from the financial crisis? Tim isn’t so sure. He argues that there is a group of people who’ve been focusing on what really matters, and they aren’t the economists, bankers and lawyers we usually turn to – but experts in nuclear, industrial and aviation safety. A nuclear meltdown and a financial meltdown have much more in common than we realise. (PopTech talk here)
Ideas that Matter.
We talk a lot about innovation – but what do we really mean? Tim believes we’ve become fixated on a particular kind of innovation, and we’re missing out other possibilities. Ranging across high performance cycling, genetic engineering and military innovation, this is one of Tim’s most popular talks. (BBC talk here)
How to Run – or Ruin – An Economy.
The “Indiana Jones of Economics”, Bill Phillips, was an inventor, an adventurer and a hero – as well as being a truly great economist. In a yarn well suited to an after-dinner format, Tim uses the life of Bill Phillips to ask what modern economists can learn from their larger-than-life predecessors. (BBC talk here)
Misinformation is beautiful.
Data visualisation is all the rage, but with examples ranging from Florence Nightingale to the latest YouTube infographic hits, Tim shows that we’re being fooled by sketchy statistics dressed up beautifully. A humorous and visually striking statistical survival guide.
Big Data: Are we making a big mistake?
When Tim explained some of the fallacies behind the big data boom in the Financial Times, it was the newspaper’s most-read article of the year. From Google Flu Trends to retail targeting algorithms, Tim argues that big data will only fulfil its potential if we can avoid some very old statistical traps.
The Magic of Mess.
Tim’s latest TED talk is about creativity – and about the unexpected benefits of obstacles, interruptions and distractions. With examples from cognitive psychology, complexity science – and of course rock and roll – Tim delivers a powerful and inspirational talk.
How Obstacles Make Us More Creative
Challenges and problems can derail your creative process ... or they can make you more creative than ever. With examples ranging from jazz to commuting, and drawing on research from cognitive psychology and computer science, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess.
Tim has crafted talks for his BBC show, “Pop Up Ideas” on: how we cooperate in difficult circumstances; the seductive appeal of maps; game theory and the cold war; how the geeks took over poker; and how economics is transforming kidney donations. Tim’s forthcoming book, The Magic of Mess (Spring 2016) argues that we over-rate tidy, scripted and quantifiable approaches to problems, overlooking the benefits of improvised, botched-together, ambiguous and imperfect solutions.