Synopses & Reviews
Is it safer to fly or take the train? How dangerous is skydiving? And is eating that extra sausage going to kill you? We've all heard the statistics for risky activities, but what do they mean in the real world? In The Norm Chronicles, journalist Michael Blastland and risk expert David Spiegelhalter explore these questions through the stories of average Norm and an ingenious measurement called the MicroMort a one in a million chance of dying. They reveal why general anesthesia is as dangerous as a parachute jump, giving birth in the US is nearly twice as risky as in the UK, and that the radiation from eating a banana shaves 3 seconds off your life. An entertaining guide to the statistics of personal risk, The Norm Chronicles will enlighten anyone who has ever worried about the dangers we encounter in our daily lives.
Blastland and Spiegelhalter present this humorous risk assessment ofdaily activities through the eyes of several characters ranging from highly risk averse to risk seeking. Using the MicroMort (a one in amillion chance of death) and MicroLife (about thirty minutes of life expectancy) to quantify statistical risks in personal terms, theauthors discuss the objective risks of a great number of common activities, some typically perceived as risky and others not, andmany with a balance between risk of undertaking the venture and risk of not doing so. Covered are baseline rates of accidents,vaccination, violence, sex, drugs, childbirth, gambling, transportation methods, extreme sports, lifestyle choices, radiation,social conditions like unemployment, and medical procedures, among others. The final chapter puts these average risks in perspective asmore like betting odds with minimal information, conceding that intuition and better data may often give a better picture of individual risks.Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Blastland and Spiegelhalter achieve the amusing feat of bringing mortality data back from the dead. Reading this book will, in all probability, add years to your life.” Kaiser Fung, author of Numbers Rule Your World and Number Sense
We have a really tough time understanding absolute, individualized risk until now. The Norm Chronicles provides a long overdue, systematic, and entertaining dissection of life's risks.” Eric Topol, M.D., author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine
In the same manner that the bumblebee disproved the calculations of an earlier times aerodynamics, so Blastland and Spiegelhalter refute a central tenet of today's science of risk communication: that the meaning of numbers defies the narrative currency of everyday reasoning. Engaging, enlightening stories of probability, they demonstrate, are the most reliable means for transmitting empirical knowledge of the dangers we face and how to abate them.” Dan Kahan, Professor of Law and Psychology, Yale Law School
Blastland and Spiegelhalter's The Norm Chronicles is irreverent, poignant, insightful, and just about the best book about risk I've ever read. It's also a paradox a book about numbers and probabilities that'll keep you hooked to the last page. That shouldn't be possible. Using master story telling and a large dose of humanity, Blastland and Spiegelhalter transform the statistics of danger and death into a celebration of life. Its a rare feat, but one that's as compelling as it is important. This book is essential reading to anyone who has ever faced the possibility of something going wrong, and thought what the
?! Buy it!” Andrew Maynard, director, University of Michigan Risk Science Center
Numbers matter, especially in the face of risk. This book is a powerful remedy for a deadly affliction innumeracy.” Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research, and author of The Feeling of Risk
The Norm Chronicles is a superb, fun book about numbers in everyday life.” Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist
About the Author
Michael Blastland is an author, journalist, and BBC Radio 4 broadcaster. He is the author of, with Andrew Dilnot, the popular math books The Tiger that Isn't
and The Numbers Game
, as well as the memoir The Only Boy in the World
David Spiegelhalter OBE is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge and the Royal Society.