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Chance Rules: An Informal Guide to Probability, Risk and Statistics [Paperback]

Brian Everitt
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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There is a newer edition of this item:
Chance Rules: An Informal Guide to Probability, Risk and Statistics Chance Rules: An Informal Guide to Probability, Risk and Statistics 5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

1 Sep 1999
An entertaining exploration of aspects of chance, risk and probability, ranging from the toss of a coin to the use of clinical trials in medicine and the evaluation of alternative therapies. Aimed at all those who would like to discover more about chance and the way it operates in a variety of settings, the book is written by the prolific author, Professor Brian S. Everitt, Head of the Biostatistics and Computing Department at Kings College, London.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1999 edition (1 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387987681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387987682
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,194,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the reviews of the second edition:

"This book takes its place in a long line of books on probability directed to nonmathematicians. … the author gives those readers interested in more details some simple mathematics in various places, with the comment that readers uneasy with mathematics can pass over these details without losing the main thrust, but encourages readers to make the effort. … readers who try to follow the mathematical details will probably find these to be helpful exercises." (Gerald A. Heuer, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1156, 2009)

From the Back Cover

Chance continues to govern our lives in the 21st Century. From the genes we inherit and the environment into which we are born, to the lottery ticket we buy at the local store, much of life is a gamble. In business, education, travel, health, and marriage, we take chances in the hope of obtaining something better. Chance colors our lives with uncertainty, and so it is important to examine it and try to understand about how it operates in a number of different circumstances. Such understanding becomes simpler if we take some time to learn a little about probability because probability is the natural language of uncertainty.

This second edition of Chance Rules again recounts the story of chance through history and the various ways it impacts on our lives. Here you can read about the earliest gamblers who thought that the fall of the dice was controlled by the gods, as well as the modern geneticist and quantum theory researcher trying to integrate aspects of probability into their chosen speciality. Example included in the first addition such as the infamous Monty Hall problem, tossing coins, coincidences, horse racing, birthdays and babies remain, often with an expanded discussion, in this edition. Additional material in the second edition includes, a probabilistic explanation of why things were better when you were younger, consideration of whether you can use probability to prove the existence of God, how long you may have to wait to win the lottery, some court room dramas, predicting the future, and how evolution scores over creationism. Chance Rules lets you learn about probability without complex mathematics.

Brian Everitt is Professor Emeritus at King's College, London. He is the author of more than 50 books on statistics. 

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good fun 21 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This is a really sociable book. It is fun to read with friends (i.e. i'll bet you didn't know...), it's full of useful facts about shared birthdays, frequency of poker hands, information on contract bridge and top tips on winning more money on the lottery - its a good source of info for winning arguments (a winner all round!).
There is also a serious side to this book (cancer, babies, dna testing and quantifying risk) which makes for a very interesting read. Overall this book really makes you think about chance in our everyday lives. Well done Brian Everitt, I hope you write a lot more popular books on similar subjects in the not too distant future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written traditional account of probability 26 Oct 2008
By David J. Aldous - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the better half of the dozen or so popular science style books on probability that I have read and reviewed. The selection of topics (listed below) is very traditional and the author has chosen to cover many topics briefly rather than a few topics in depth; in other regards it has a middle of the road style. That is, in the middle of spectra (a) from gee-whiz enthusiasm to dry analysis; (b) from absolutely no mathematics to too much mathematics. What it says is almost everywhere clear and correct, though the book as a whole lacks individualistic style or focus. Indeed the only unique feature I noticed is that it mentions neither the normal curve nor power law distributions -- other books tend to overemphasize at least one of those topics. Like other books by academics (the most similar previous one being Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities) it implicitly focuses on topics related to traditional College freshman statistics courses rather than those arising from fashionable research (random models of social networks or the Internet, genetic algorithms, fractals ...) which tend to be emphasized in books written by professional science writers.

List of topics: brief history, rules for combining probabilities, combinations and permutations, the gambler's fallacy, waiting times for patterns in coin tossing, games (lottery, roulette, poker, blackjack) and sports (horse racing, football pools), Bayes rule illustrated by positive/negative medical diagnostics and by the O.J. Simpson and Sally Clark cases, paradoxes (2 boys, Monte Hall, surprise exam, St Petersburg), secretary problem, birthday coincidences and anecdotes about real-world coincidences, risk perception and influence of positive/negative presentation of risk/reward, randomization in clinical trials, and evidence regarding acupuncture and homeopathy, modeling illustrated by improving sports records and stock markets, and brief final mentions of chaos, quantum theory and random mutations as the driving force behind evolution.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting yet those who have high school level knowledge about probability will find it more digestable 31 Oct 2011
By ServantofGod - Published on
The author had done a great job to make such a complicated subject so interesting and easily digestable by mass audience. Honestly, I dont understand all the topics but at least it builds into my mind that chance rules and my first impression about probability of an issue is almost always wrong. In short, recommended!

p.s. Below please find a few favorite passages of mine for your reference.
There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when he cant afford it, and when he can - Mark Twain pg47
Probability that all r birthdays are different: 2-0.997, 20-0.589, 100-0.00000031 pg79
Probability of at least one birthday the same as yours: 1-0.003, 100-0.24, 253-0.500 pg80
The luck of having talent is not enough; one must also have a talent for luck. - Hector Berlioz pg87
A neighbor has two children. One is a boy. What is the probability of the other child is also a boy? 1/3 pg106
In any evaluation of risk it has to be remembered that life itself is a universally fatal sexually transmitted disease and that in the end nobody cheats death. A strong case can be made for living a life of modified hedonism so that we may enjoy to the full the only life which we are likely to have. Pg134
The stock market has forecast nine of the last five recessions. - Paul Samuelson pg169
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