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The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Livesby Leonard Mlodinow
Synopses & Reviews
In this irreverent and illuminating book, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, change, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious cases, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.
The rise and fall of your favorite movie star of the most reviled CEO--in fact, of all our destinies--reflects as much as planning and innate abilities. Even the legendary Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky. And it might be shocking to realize that you are twice as likely to be killed in a car accident on your way to buying a lottery ticket than you are to win the lottery.
How could it have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars, the highest rating, in one journal and in another it was called the worst wine of the decade? Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how wine ratings, school grades, political polls, and many other things in daily life are less reliable than we believe. By showing us the true nature of change and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives fresh insight into what is really meaningful and how we can make decisions based on a deeper truth. From the classroom to the courtroom, from financial markets to supermarkets, from the doctor's office to the Oval Office, Mlodinow's insights will intrigue, awe, and inspire.
Offering readers not only a tour of randomness, chance, and probability but also a new way of looking at the world, this original, unexpected journey reminds us that much in our lives is about as predictable as the steps of a stumbling man fresh from a night at the bar.
"A jaunty read worthy of any beach or airplane.... Mlodinow has an intimate perspective on randomness.... He draws direct links from the works of history's greatest minds to the deeds of today's not-so-great ones, explaining phenomena like the prosecutor's fallacy (which helped acquit O.J. Simpson) and the iPod shuffle function (eventually programmed not to be truly random, lest songs hit upon eerie playing streaks)." The Austin Chronicle
"Challenges our intuitions about probability and explores how, by understanding randomness, we can better grasp our world." Seed Magazine
Critically analyzes the role of chance and random events, forces, and factors in shaping human existence, in a readable study of how the mathematical laws of randomness control the world around us. By the author of Feynman's Rainbow. 30,000 first printing.
With the born storyteller's command of narrative and imaginative approach, Leonard Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how our lives are profoundly informed by chance and randomness and how everything from wineratings and corporate success to school grades and political polls are less reliable than we believe.
By showing us the true nature of chance and revealing thepsychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives us the tools we need to make more informed decisions. From the classroom to the courtroom and from financial markets to supermarkets, Mlodinow's intriguing and illuminating look at how randomness, chance, and probability affect our daily lives will intrigue, awe, and inspire.
From theTrade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
Peering through the eyepiece of randomness: the hidden role of chance . . . when human beings can be outperformed by a rat — The laws of truths and half-truths: the basic principles of probability and how they are abused . . . why a good story is often less likely to be true than a flimsy explanation — Finding your way through a space of possibilities: a framework for thinking about random situations . . . from a gambler in plague-ridden Italy to Let's Make a Deal — Tracking the pathways to success: how to count the number of ways in which events can happen, and why it matters . . . the mathematical meaning of expectation — The dueling laws of large and small numbers: the extent to which probabilities are reflected in the results we observe . . . Zeno's paradox, the concept of limits, and beating the casino at roulette — False positives and positive fallacies: how to adjust expectations in light of past events or new knowledge . . . mistakes in conditional probability from medical screening to the O. J. Simpson trial and the prosecutor's fallacy — Measurement and the law of errors: the meaning and lack of meaning in measurements . . . the bell curve and wine ratings, political polls, grades, and the position of planets — The order in chaos: how large numbers can wash out the disorder of randomness . . . or why 200,000,000 drivers form a creature of habit — Illusions of patterns and patterns of illusion: why we are often fooled by the regularities in chance events . . . can a million consecutive zeroes or the success of Wall Street gurus be random? — The drunkard's walk: why chance is a more fundamental conception than causality . . . Bruce Willis, Bill Gates, and the normal accident theory of life.
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