Radical Uncertainty: Decision-making for an unknowable future

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Little, Brown Book Group, Mar 5, 2020 - Business & Economics - 544 pages

LONGLISTED FOR THE FT/MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2020

'A brilliant new book'
Daily Telegraph

'Well written . . . and often entertaining'
The Times

'A sparkling analysis'
Prospect

'Entertaining and enlightening . . . This is a necessary critique and they make it with verve, knowledge and a wealth of stories'
Financial Times

'An elegant, wise and timely book' Irish Times

'Jam-packed with erudition' New Statesman



This major, critically acclaimed work asks a vitally important question for today: when uncertainty is all around us, and the facts are not clear, how can we make good decisions?

We do not know what the future will hold, particularly in the midst of a crisis, but we must make decisions anyway. We regularly crave certainties which cannot exist and invent knowledge we cannot have, forgetting that humans are successful because we have adapted to an environment that we understand only imperfectly. Throughout history we have developed a variety of ways of coping with the radical uncertainty that defines our lives.

This incisive and eye-opening book draws on biography, history, mathematics, economics and philosophy to highlight the most successful - and most short-sighted - methods of dealing with an unknowable future. Ultimately, the authors argue, the prevalent method of our age falls short, giving us a false understanding of our power to make predictions, leading to many of the problems we experience today.

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About the author (2020)

Mervyn King was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013 and is currently Professor of Economics and Law at New York University and School Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. Lord King was made a life peer in 2013 and appointed by the Queen a Knight of the Garter in 2014. He is the author of The End of Alchemy.

John Kay is a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford and has held professorial appointments at the University of Oxford, London Business School and the London School of Economics. He is a director of several public companies and for many years contributed a weekly column to the Financial Times. He chaired the UK government review of equity markets which reported in 2012 recommending substantial reforms. He is the author of many books including Other People's Money, The Truth about Markets, The Long and the Short of It and Obliquity.