Michael Blastland

2019 - The Hidden Half. How the world conceals its secrets

Why does one smoker die of lung cancer but another live to 100? The answer is ‘The Hidden Half’ – those random, unknowable variables that mess up our attempts to comprehend the world.

We humans are very clever creatures – but we’re idiots about how clever we really are. In this entertaining and ingenious book, Blastland reveals how in our quest to make the world more understandable, we lose sight of how unexplainable it often is. The result – from GDP figures to medicine – is that experts know a lot less than they think.

Filled with compelling stories from economics, genetics, business, and science, The Hidden Halfis a warning that an explanation which works in one arena may not work in another. Entertaining and provocative, it will change how you view the world.

Michael Blastland subjects include all areas of argument that use data and numbers in the news, in politics and in life, from the economy and public spending to business performance and healthcare, crime, education and climate.

He is particularly interested in data and storytelling, data presentation (including animation), evidenced-based policy, the history of public spending and taxation, trends in policy, choice in public services and in public understanding and media use of numbers.

‘Fascinating and provocative. Blastland is one of the most original thinkers around.’ – Tim Harford, bestselling author of The Undercover Economist