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Have you ever flipped a coin 100 times to see the sequence of heads and tails that comes up? If you have, you know that there can be long streaks of heads and tails. Random results that end up 50-50 don't look that way in the short term.

Human perception is such that we like to find patterns where none exist. I remember the CEO of a company I worked for would draw a trend line through one data point with great authority, totally unaware of what he was doing.

More often, we judge by samples of behavior and time that are too short to be representative. Professor Mlodinow does a good job of showing how executives are often fired just before they get their best results, and how seldom the new executive does any better than the prior one.

In sports, we get all excited about streaks. Professor Mlodinow dampens that enthusiasm by pointing out that like streaks can occur randomly. We need to check to see if the streak exceeds the expected degree of variation before deciding that something significant has taken place. (But don't stop cheering on your favorite team and players.)

The book also provides lots of thumbnail sketches of the human side of those who have advanced the science and math behind our ability to measure and understand randomness. In fact, I don't recall a book on this subject with better anecdotes about the scientists and mathematicians. That's the reward in this book if you already know about randomness.

If you know nothing on the subject, this book is the gentlest possible introduction.

Enjoy!
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on 28 August 2016
You make plane - life intervenes (is what John Lennon might've said).

The best laid plans of mice and men (wot Shaxpere said!)
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on 28 August 2014
Fascinating... what most people call destiny is more likely to be as a consequence of randomness.. This is too much to swallow.
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on 21 January 2013
Unique book, might be more interesting for those that study some of the subjects aborded, not sure it was the right one for me.
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on 2 April 2012
Very readable and enjoyable. Author didn't assume too much knowledge of the subject in advance, but explained the ideas well.
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on 6 March 2010
I was expecting great things from this book, but in the end found it heavy going and didn't even quite get to the end.

I think the Malcolm Gladwell book series is better written and far more interesting.
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on 8 February 2015
Size Uk 13 way too small, nor like 11.5 (or US13). It's not clear to me why to insist on wrong advertising would it be possible to include the size in cm?
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on 4 June 2015
Brilliant Read Lots of Ah- ha !!! moments Great insights an humour. Excellent seller.
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on 13 April 2016
Really interesting read with well explained examples for us novice mathematicians.
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on 16 October 2014
A must read for anyone studying Economics
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