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

4.2 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Length: 451 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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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)

Ellenberg writes with remarkable flair and humour. His deft, witty, colloquial prose often makes one laugh... So great are Jordan Ellenberg's gifts of exposition and insight that one hopes for many more books from him as excellent and entertaining as How Not To Be Wrong (Peter Pesic Times Literary Supplement)

About the Author

Jordan Ellenberg is a Professor of Mathematics at University of Wisconsin, and the 'Do the Math' columnist at Slate. He has lectured around the world on his research in number theory, and delivered one of the plenary addresses at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest math conference in the world. His novel The Grasshopper King was shortlisted for the NYPL Young Lions Award, and he writes regularly for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post and Wired. A former two-time gold medalist at the International Mathematics Olympiad, Ellenberg learned algebra at the age of 8 and got a perfect score on his Math SATs (as a 12 year old).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2920 KB
  • Print Length: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K8J3VC2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,370 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting read if you want engage with a little maths in your spare time. It's well written and not too complicated while still making you think about stuff you may have never wondered about before. Given the subject I think the author has done a great job.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written sideways look at mathematics appeals to those (like me) who didn't get on that well with it at school but who find it interesting nonetheless. The author makes interesting links with philosophy and politics. Perhaps a bit too much on lottery probability for me but overall enjoyed it a lot.
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Format: Hardcover
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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