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How Not to be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life
 
 

How Not to be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life [Kindle Edition]

Jordan Ellenberg
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Review

A cheery manifesto for the utility of mathematical thinking. Ellenberg's prose is a delight - informal and robust, irreverent yet serious... Full of simple yet deep insights that encourage clear thinking about many areas of modern life... How Not to Be Wrong is an impressive work of popular mathematics. It's low on formulae and numbers, and big on ideas (Alex Bellos The Guardian)

Underlying the playful stories that make this book so gloriously, surprisingly readable is a passionate argument for the core discipline of managing uncertainty in decision-making ... In short, we dismiss maths at our peril, and this book charmingly, persuasively puts us straight. If only they'd taught maths like this at school (James McConnachie Sunday Times)

There are plenty of popular maths books around, but this one strikes a particularly fine balance between rigour and accessibility. There are complex ideas here, but Ellenberg has a gift for finding real-life examples... His easy style is lucid and witty. If only all maths lessons were like this (Orlando Bird Financial Times)

The title of this wonderful book explains what it adds to the honorable genre of popular writing on mathematics. Like Lewis Carroll, George Gamow, and Martin Gardner before him, Jordan Ellenberg shows how mathematics can delight and stimulate the mind. But he also shows that mathematical thinking should be in the toolkit of every thoughtful person-of everyone who wants to avoid fallacies, superstitions, and other ways of being wrong (Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works)

Beautiful... Mr. Ellenberg's book is chock-full of gems. His easy-to-follow, humorously presented examples range from analyzing the wisdom of buying lottery tickets to the effects of chaos on weather forecasts, from tests on how Shakespeare used alliteration in his sonnets to the economic advantages of being late to flights (Wall Street Journal)

If you feel bamboozled by figures, you can think like a mathematician without actually being one. An engaging and clear explanation of some of the tricks of the trade, and how they help you spot errors of numerical reasoning in politics, religion, and finance. A gripping read! (Ian Stewart, author of Seventeen Equations that Changed the World)

Jordan Ellenberg promises to share ways of thinking that are both simple to grasp and profound in their implications, and he delivers in spades. These beautifully readable pages delight and enlighten in equal parts. Those who already love math will eat it up, and those who don't yet know how lovable math is are in for a most pleasurable surprise (Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex)

Brilliantly engaging... Ellenberg's talent for finding real-life situations that enshrine mathematical principles would be the envy of any math teacher. He presents these in fluid succession, like courses in a fine restaurant, taking care to make each insight shine through, unencumbered by jargon or notation. Part of the sheer intellectual joy of the book is watching the author leap nimbly from topic to topic... The final effect is of one enormous mosaic unified by mathematics (Washington Post)

With math as with anything else, there's smart, and then there's street smart. This book will help you be both. Fans of Freakonomics and The Signal and the Noise will love Ellenberg's surprising stories, snappy writing, and brilliant lessons in numerical savvy. How Not to Be Wrong is sharp, funny, and right (Steven Strogatz, author of The Joy of X)

Product Description

The Freakonomics of math--a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn't confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do--the whole world is shot through with it.

Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It's a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does "public opinion" really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?

How Not to Be Wrong
presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician's method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman--minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia's views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can't figure out about you, and the existence of God.

Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is "an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength." With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2706 KB
  • Print Length: 451 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 184614678X
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Jun 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K8J3VC2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,276 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading by everyone! 6 July 2014
By brms
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The early chapters should be read by everyone on the planet, and all the rest by any teacher. It gives a new look at maths, and how useful it is ALL the time. I loved the section on 'the missing bullet holes' especially. It shows the purpose of leaning maths: it develops a way of thinking about the world that nothing else gives. My only criticism is that it's unashamedly written from a US perspective; all the material about the 2000 election does get a little bit tedious. And some of the latter chapters could have been edited a bit more tightly. Overall, a great book: this guy is up there with Ian Stewart as a populiser of maths. Read it!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Everyday maths 6 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful romp through mathematics and its relevance to things that we touch every day. The enthusiasm that Ellenberg has for his subject, and the wonderfully clear way in which he writes, is a joy.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A reasonable book for the relatively uninformed. However believe it should have been called the "Hidden Statistics" or "Hidden Probabilities" of everyday life, for I feel the book is almost solely devoted to probabilostatistics. Personally I was disappointed as I already had a reasonable knowledge of this, but for the uninitiated it may be entertaining and enlightening.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars quite interesting 3 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very focused on statistics and probability. The professional mathematician will be accustomed to many of the findings, but absolutely worth the reading. Some parts more interesting than others. The writer likes to talk a lot
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great contribution to popular thought. 9 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Have just finished this book and am mightily impressed. Jordan Ellenberg has written a book that informs, entertains and enlightens. Some of the ground he covers I thought I was familiar with, but he produces new gems that surprised and delighted me. I learned new and fascinating things about, for example, Daniel Ellsberg, David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon

Jordan Ellenberg is not only a (very) good mathematician; he is also a first class writer who has some important things to say and knows how to say them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I gave it to my husband as a gift. ... 17 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I gave it to my husband as a gift. He loves the book!
What greater compliment. Also I received it very quickly.
leah x
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent purchase and excellent value. 24 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this for a present and it has given much pleasure to the recipient.
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