On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

Decisions, whether by individuals, companies or governments, are often made with imperfect and incomplete information. This is so obvious as to hardly seem worth stating. But for well over a century economic theory assumed that decisions were made with complete information. Economists knew full well that this was not always the case. The problem was […]

A tip for Dominic Cummings: Don’t hire anyone who fails to grasp the power of incentives

The job advert issued by Dominic Cummings for people to work in government has attracted a wide range of comments. One particular focus has been on the sorts of skills he is looking for. Computer science, forecasting, artificial intelligence, causality theory — all these topics excite his interest. Cummings advocates a small selection of scientific […]

From World War II to the financial crisis, our institutional memory is fading fast

The young contestants on Lord Sugar’s reality TV show The Apprentice sparked outrage last week. They appeared to have virtually no knowledge about the Second World War. The online clips of the sequence capture to perfection their expressions of bovine outrage at even being expected to know such an esoteric thing as how long the […]