Book Review: Tim Harford ~ Messy: How to be creative and resilient in a tidy-minded world (2016)

Britain had a TV show whose catch phrase was, ‘The computer says no’ and it reflected a stifled uncreative world. It satirises the mechanistic attempt at deleting risk from everyday life looking for monochrome ‘perfection’. A hideous uncreative world doomed to sterile failure. Harford’s book is the antidote to, ‘The computer says no’.

Harford’s insight is wonderfully illustrated by his comments on children’s playgrounds and informal kick-about games,

Recent research has found a correlation between playing informal games as a child and being creative as an adult; the opposite was true of the time spent playing formal, organised games.” p260

Chris Gayle who’s probably the greatest cricketer of his generation, “broke into a cricket ground to practice in the nets, Our nets have no nets.” (p16) A world away from the pampered talent spotting world of English county set-ups.”*

Harford’s nightmare is a world organised to suit the convenience of middle-managers, who’s idea of flexibility is a Procrustean Bed. And I suppose that’s the attraction of Dominic Cummings for Johnson. Harford’s world can easily be populated by charlatans but neutering them is to neuter genius. ‘Babies? Bathwater?’ Hard isn’t it?



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