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The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day Paperback – 17 Feb 2015


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American (17 Feb. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374535000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374535001
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A hugely entertaining eye-opener about how misuse of statistics can skew our view of the world" (Daily Mail)

"Lively and lucid . . . an intensely useful (as well as a remarkably entertaining) book . . ." (Salon)

"In my experience, it is very rare to find a book that is both erudite and entertaining. Yet The Improbability Principle is such a book. Surely this cannot be due to chance alone!" (Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist)

"An elegant, astoundingly clear and enjoyable combination of subtle statistical thinking and real-world events." (Andrew Dilnot, co-author of 'The Numbers Game')

"As someone who happened to meet his future wife on a plane, on an airline he rarely used, I wholeheartedly endorse David Hand’s fascinating guide to improbability, a subject which affects the lives of all, yet until now has lacked a coherent exposition of its underlying principles." (Gordon Woo, catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Why coincidences, miracles and rare events happen all the time... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Systematic run through of the improbability rules. Essential reading if you do any form of analysis, and heartily recommended if you don't
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By DIOMIDES MAVROYIANNIS on 30 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is great for introducing everyone to the logic of probability and why it matters in real life. I found it to be a bit dull at times so it is probably a little longer than it needs to be but otherwise its a fine book. Though I am not sure who would be interested in the theme(the construction of theme, improbability principle), its not ground breaking by any measure and its something I know I read somewhere else.
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9 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gary A. Grelli on 16 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book seems to be the latest device of the Dawkins camp to refute the math that makes random creation of life and the fine-tuning of the universe impossible. Mr. Hand’s basic argument is that however improbable that life arose from random events and evolved into people, we are faced with that fact. So the explanation may be improbable, but it happened. His book tries to make this sound reasonable. He argues that creation explains nothing. It only evades explanation. It seems to me that invoking something called we might name ‘extreme’ improbability, is no different than invoking a creator.

Mr. Hand's Improbability Principle contends that the most improbable things in the world can and will happen because they in fact do. He makes use of some of his own(?) "laws" to make this argument. He invokes the "Law of Very Large Numbers" which, in essence asserts the opposite of "The Law of Large Numbers." It seems to say, rather than regression to the mean, Very large numbers ensure that the real outliers can and will occur.

In Chapter 10, he purports to explain the beginning of life, the cosmos and the very improbable set of physical constants which allows life to even exist on earth.

For example, he argues that life can arise from chemicals given enough opportunities. He has a "Law of Inevitability" which simply says "something must happen, rather than nothing." His Law of selection seems to say that 'success breeds success.' Evolution builds on successful choices, not the unsuccessful ones. This in turn amplifies the chance of more evolution.

If Chapter 10 were discarded, the rest of the book makes for an enjoyable read about statistics, probability and everyday events. Try Nate Silver’s, The Signal and the Noise for something more coherent, but a bit more challenging.
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Lacey on 16 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Husband requested tracked it down online at a good price.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marcin Bartkowiak on 22 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great book
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