How messy is your desk? Do you shy away from face-to-face conversations in favor of text messages? What sort of strategy do you use to allocate your retirement savings? These situations and more were on the table in this episode, delightfully “messy” EconTalk , as host Russ Roberts welcomed author Tim Harford (aka the Undercover Economist) back to the program.

Harford, with his affinity for (most) things messy, is a man after my own heart. (I posted a photo of my own messy desk on twitter earlier this week, and got some great pics in response.)

1. How does Harford’s notion of a “more metaphorical mess” spark creativity? To what extent have you experienced such a phenomenon in your own life? (And have you listened to the Keith Jarrett recording yet??? You won’t be disappointed. We’d love to hear your reaction to that, too!)

2. Roberts makes the claim that diversity is overrated, and Harford counters that while it may be over-rated by social scientists, he believes it is under-rated by “people who actually do things.” What does he mean by this, and to what extent do you think he’s right? How can diversity be “messy” in productive ways?

3. In discussing the challenges of targeting, Harford used the Basel Accords as an example. As Harford described this set of regulations, did you perceive them as “messy” or “tidy,” and why? (Full disclosure: Roberts tells Harford he thought they were “messy,” while in my own listening I was thinking “tidy.”) Does “messiness” have the same value in policy as it does personally?

4. OK, here it is. We dare you. Roberts and Harford discuss the norms of personal interaction that govern face-to-face conversation (and many people’s discomfort with it) at some length. Roberts bemoans typical cocktail party “chatter,” and our frequent failure to have deeper conversations with one another. So come up with what he calls some “crazy cocktail party questions” and share them with us. And we dare you to try at least one out. If you do, share your story with us…We’d like to use them in a future piece!