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The Drunkard's Walk Audiobook

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

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Publisher's Summary

In this irreverent and illuminating audiobook, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, chance, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious causes, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.

The rise and fall of your favorite movie star or the most reviled CEO - in fact, all our destinies - reflects chance as much as planning and innate abilities. Even Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth's single season home-run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky.

How could it have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars by one journal and called the worst wine of the decade by another? Wine ratings, school grades, political polls, and many other things in daily life are less reliable than we believe. By showing us the true nature of chance and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives fresh insight into what is really meaningful and how we can make decisions based on a deeper truth. From the classroom to the courtroom, from financial markets to supermarkets, from the doctor's office to the Oval Office, Mlodinow's insights will intrigue, awe, and inspire.

Offering listeners not only a tour of randomness, chance and probability but also a new way of looking at the world, this original, unexpected journey reminds us that much in our lives is about as predictable as the steps of a stumbling man afresh from a night at a bar.

©2008 Leonard Mlodinow; (P)2008 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"A wonderful guide to how the mathematical laws of randomness affect our lives." (Stephen Hawking)
"If you're strong enough to have some of your favorite assumptions challenged, please listen to The Drunkard's Walk....a history, explanation, and exaltation of probability theory....The results are mind-bending." (Fortune)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (3274 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 03-11-12
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 03-11-12 Member Since 2013

    I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.

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    "Great book for Artists"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Drunkard's Walk to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the print version so I don't know. I don't consider this to be a useful question. I listen to audiobooks when my hands are otherwise occupied on a mundane task. I would likely not have gotten around to reading this book if it weren't being read to me while doing laundry and ironing and working in my studio.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Drunkard's Walk?

    Also not an appropriate question for this book.
    I thought the most personally relevant information came at the end when the author was talking about famous authors, like Stephen King, whose work didn't do as well under a pen name. Earlier the author talked about the more well known (at least to me) story of JK Rowling's Harry Potter manuscripts being refused repeatedly. I also appreciated the section on listener's ratings and purchases of music by unknown artists.
    The take-away is that so much of artistic success is reliant on luck, forces beyond their talent and, essentially, randomness.
    As an artist, this is an interesting, though not necessarily a comforting perspective.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Again, weird question.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Seriously, this is not a useful way for me to review this audiobook.


    Any additional comments?

    I liked this book because it was accessible and very relevant to a regular person's life. I like

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    roxann Olathe, KS, United States 03-11-12
    roxann Olathe, KS, United States 03-11-12

    family tree buff

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    "Basically a math history lesson"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    It was interesting, but there isn't much of a practical application to one's life.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Leonard Mlodinow? Why or why not?

    No,


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    N/A


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-05-12
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-05-12 Member Since 2013

    I spend 90+ minutes a day in my car, Audible makes it enjoyable regardless of what's happening in traffic. My taste varies from endurance fitness to economics and from to combat stories and romance novels.

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    "A bit of a disappointment"
    What did you like best about The Drunkard's Walk? What did you like least?

    While there are some interesting things I learned, The Drunkard's Walk was a disappointment. Sure, math is a challenging topic to make interesting and the author tries, but his attempts at levity fall short, his discussion of the characters that gave us modern statistics is still dry, and I struggled just to finish the book.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Absolutely not.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacy Lee 03-05-12
    Stacy Lee 03-05-12

    Stacy Lee

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    "Another mind opener"

    This book does take some time to get in to. You may be tempted to stop listening after the first 20 mins or so, but trust me, hang on, since it gets better and better.

    I was delighted with the book. I feel like I have learnt a lot, even about some concepts that I have already encountered before. And it was an enjoyable learning experience!

    If you are taking a course in statistics, this book is a must for you, since it will shed some light and interest onto the course material and will help you get a clearer and fuller picture.

    It can also leave you with a lot of hope- a lot of the the phenomenons in this world are random- thus almost anything is possible...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Troy, NY, United States 02-24-12
    Brian Troy, NY, United States 02-24-12
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    "Most interesting math book out there"
    Where does The Drunkard's Walk rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    If not the best one I've heard then definitely the second best, behind Endgame by Frank Brady.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Drunkard's Walk?

    I found the points where mistakes in peoples' understanding of probability have led to outrageous claims being passed off as fact to be both interesting and frightening.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I really enjoyed the court case in which a couple was convicted of robbery based on only probability arguments. Later on, it was discovered that the probability arguments were gravely flawed, and that based on probability alone, the couple was most likely innocent. Although disgusting, I found the underlying concepts to be fascinating.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed and cried at the inability of even mathematicians to intuitively grasp probability concepts. In some cases involving the legal or financial systems, it was outright scary.


    Any additional comments?

    An eye-opening book that requires little to no knowledge of probability to understand. As a senior year math major, I found the explanations of how to calculate probabilities to be tedious, but the underlying applications (and misapplications) were extremely interesting and made for a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Holland, TX, United States 02-19-12
    Jim Holland, TX, United States 02-19-12 Member Since 2016

    Jumps on his bed while licking the bottom of one foot. He persists in this life affirming act despite interference from the head nurse.

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    "Not For Non-Math Types"

    I admit that much of this text was a strain for me to follow, try as the author might to make it simple for fools such as myself. I purchased it thinking it was more qualitative than quantitative in its writing. It is not. I recommend this book for college-age students who want a cheery, facile introduction to things like game theory and probability statistics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marylou Bend, OR, United States 02-18-12
    Marylou Bend, OR, United States 02-18-12
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    "boring"
    Would you try another book from Leonard Mlodinow and/or Sean Pratt?

    oh so very dry and boring... I mean this guy gives an example, then another, then another and so on and so on and so on..................... UGH!!! we get it already!


    What could Leonard Mlodinow have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    made it interesting!


    Would you be willing to try another one of Sean Pratt’s performances?

    no


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Drunkard's Walk?

    the entire book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lhianna Philadelphia, PA, United States 02-13-12
    Lhianna Philadelphia, PA, United States 02-13-12 Member Since 2013
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    "clear, well read, fascinating"
    Any additional comments?

    The content of this book is fascinating. It covers interesting history of the lives of mathematicians (in the context of probability and randomness). The narative builds gradually to give you a clear and thorough understanding of the author's idea of randomness. He describes how our human nature leads us to misconceptions of the effects of randomness in our daily lives and how those misconecptions in turn affect the decisions we make. Leonard Mlodinow explains these things through humor and history in entertaining vignettes accompanied by clear and simple explanations of the relevant concepts in probability and randomness.

    I was wary of trying to understand mathematical concepts by listening alone. But I found the explanations clear and Sean Pratt's reading excellent, so that it was entirely easy to visualize in my head and follow along.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 01-16-12
    Mary 01-16-12
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    "Confusing"

    I can not make "heads or tails" out of this story. Statistical analysis, is at best, a complex subject and rarely found to be interesting by most people. Randomness, as it seems to apply to human life, is a complex and difficult topic to explain. My hope that the author had created a "Dummies" version to explain the pairing of randomness and statistical analysis in human life has been dashed. I will not be trying yet again, for a fourth time, to figure out what the author is trying to say. I am glad I did not pay full price for this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJFLA 01-02-12
    CJFLA 01-02-12
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    "Interesting stuff"
    Any additional comments?

    The author offers some good insight into why and how

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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