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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2015
Great book, and there are sections of this which ought to be compulsory reading for many school maths students, journalists and anyone who wants to be able to tell when a politician is lying with statistics. It's well written and edited, although I think the latter tails off a bit meaning some of the later chapters are a bit rambling.
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on 20 October 2015
This book starts of with some inspiring insights into pure mathematics, then skips lightly through calculus before becoming bogged-down in probability and statistics. This last section forms the bulk of the text and is so reliant on framing maths in terms of US politics, US state lotteries, and a US-style obsession with the Judeo-Christian concept of a 'God' that I found it difficult to engage with. By the time we get to logical theory - the reason I was originally interested in the book - the author seems to have lost steam, and quickly skips on to his conclusion, again set against the backdrop of US politics and sport (baseball and American football). I couldn't face trudging through this last section, and felt so compelled to skip through it that I probably missed something inspirational.
He does present some interesting ideas around the notion of genius and the nature of democracy, but these are dealt with too swiftly to make the rest of the book worthwhile.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 June 2015
For me, it started with punch and vigor, and I thought "hello? am I in for a roller-coaster ride of interesting mathematics?". I needn't have gotten my hopes up. It moves in to some very weighty chapters to illustrate some points that could have been just as easily written on a single page. But of course, that wouldn't fill a book, so you end up with a lot of inane drivel.

It certainly isn't terrible. I just found myself skimming over large swathes of text thinking "yeah yeah yeah, where's the meat in this pie?".

Worth a read if you have the time to dig deep into the roots of what Jordan is trying to put forward. Overall though, as you might have guessed, I wont be re-reading it.
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on 2 September 2015
Written in easily accessible style, like a well-loved uncle who really gets the maths, explaining quite advanced concepts in terms hardly anyone could fail to grasp. No equations here, except maybe to show what an equation might look like. Rather, you'll find some back-of-napkin style hand drawn illustrations that go perfectly with the relaxed style of the text. News stories, ads, politicians, drugs companies, science articles, all shower us with a constant barrage of statistics. Want to understand the true meaning of all those numbers better than those who tout them? You might very well, after reading this book. Because, what it will give is more of a "feel" for how numbers should work, rather than the detailed mechanics of how to do the calculations yourself. And ultimately, in order not to be wrong, this can be far more important than the raw ability to do the sums.
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on 6 July 2014
An interesting book showing how maths underpins many aspects of everyday life and how it can be used and abused by politicians, policy makers and the media. However, you need a fairly developed facility in mathematics to understand some of the author's worked-out numerical examples.
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on 6 February 2015
Ellenberg's book made me want to study mathematics again - a formidable achievement. I enjoyed every part of it, even down to the references and footnotes. The many references to literature, popular culture and history are particularly stimulating - not least the comparison of James T. Kirk and Bertrand Russell - something I never expected to see in print!
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on 22 June 2016
There was more mathematical detail than is the norm for this type of book, although there could have been a better flow of the book – I read it quite quickly, so if there had been a logical progression then I think I would have been aware of it. I was not keen on the latter parts primarily looking at politics and voting; this seem to be stressed a little too much, and not very clearly. One thing I did find really quite irritating was that the superscript (most commonly an asterix) used to indicate foot notes was so small that it was a struggle to find it in the text – as I said, a minor irritation – but it meant that the footnotes were not looked at when perhaps they should have been. Concluding thoughts are that this book could have been more focussed, but that it undoubtedly did provide some insight into just how real mathematicians work (I say it that way as I do use a lot of fairly high level maths [or so I thought!!] but it is so apparent that there are much more rigorous levels to stretch out to).

Having looked at some other reviews, I also wholeheartedly agree that the title of the book was very misleading. It is not about everyday life, or at least, not as I expected it to be.
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on 5 July 2015
Started out well, but from about three quarters of the way through, I began to have difficulty in following the maths, but not the reasoning. The examples were of course heavily biased towards America especially those which referred to voting systems. It is however a very worthwhile read
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on 2 January 2016
Interesting read, although not as well written as it might be: the points the author is making tend to get lost in his rather laboured, rambling explanations and illustrations - I frequently found myself backtracking to remind myself of the main point at issue and found some aspects, like the overuse of footnotes, less than helpful in this respect. If you have a mathematical/statistical background this will likely not be a problem for you; if, like me, you are coming at it from a more limited exposure to the subject (I'm a scientist with only a very basic understanding of statistics) you may struggle a bit at times.

It's certainly worth a read; just don't try to use it as a substitute for the paperback you'd normally take to enjoy on the poolside lounger at your beach hotel.
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on 30 September 2014
Some of this is fascinating and there are a few truly beautiful observations, but certain points are unnecessarily laboured and as other reviewers have said, it almost exculsively deals with probability and statistics.

Seems aimed at the kind of researchers investigating non-clear cut facts and how they interpret statistical data.
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