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The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives | [Leonard Mlodinow]

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

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.
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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

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3.8 (2513 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Teerawat Bangkok, Thailand 06-19-10
    Teerawat Bangkok, Thailand 06-19-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Motivation for Mathematics"


    If you think that mathematics mainly for academic, this book might change your view. The book talks very little about basic probability principles. Rather, it focuses on how the principles were discovered, what it meant in the old time and the present time, and the fallacy associated to them.

    I am quite familiar with probability. So, I find myself reading this book enjoyably. As a student, I was wondering why should study difficult and boring mathematics. If you are like me, you might find this book quite interesting. This book gives the readers the reasons why mathematics matters to, say for example, engineers, statistians, or even lawyers.

    Another interesting part of this book is the history. There are stories of great mathematician and scientists such as Gerolamo Cardano, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Jacob Bernoulli, Thomas Bayes, Laplace, Carl Friedrich Gauss. Who would have know that Thomas Bayes was a minister. Pascal suffered from his illness when he did too much thinking.

    The book is interesting. It looks at aspects that I ususally overlook. It keeps me engaged for most of the content. Overall, I like this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arun Lansdale, PA, USA 06-03-10
    Arun Lansdale, PA, USA 06-03-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Super edutainment"

    Narration:
    Excellent

    Pros:
    1) Delves into the history of statistics and statisticians
    2) Nicely explains the fundamentals of and differences between probability and statistics (I wish I had read this book before my MBA statistics course, would have given me a great grounding and set me on a path of asking the right questions)

    Cons:
    Really nothing - maybe the book could have been longer, I would have enjoyed it even more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judd Bagley Utah 06-01-10
    Judd Bagley Utah 06-01-10 Member Since 2006

    Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good, but fails to deliver on the subtitle"

    This was a well-written and presented work, but the promise of "how randomness rules out lives" was nearly an afterthought of the final, short chapter. That's what I was looking for, and to the extent that it went undelivered, I cannot rate the book higher than three stars.
    None the less, I do need to give the author credit for doing as good a job as any in explaining the history of certain statistical movements. The narrative on the Bernoulli brothers was outstanding.
    On technical mastery (the quality of the narration) I'd give the book a five. The narration was superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dirk Farum, Denmark 04-30-10
    Dirk Farum, Denmark 04-30-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "From basic to interesting"

    Book takes a historic view of chance and statistics - at times very basic, so if you have a certain academic understanding of probability, it takes a while before the book becomes interesting. Last chapters of the book adds new perspectives to chance and how it affects our lives, but again, if you have read other books in this genre (predictably irrational and outliers), there is a good chance of repetition.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Falmouth, ME USA 04-07-09
    Jeff Falmouth, ME USA 04-07-09 Member Since 2004

    Jeff

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    "Great ideas"

    Required reading for anyone who is constantly looking to better understand their world

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phoebe Nesbit, MS, USA 03-02-09
    Phoebe Nesbit, MS, USA 03-02-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A bit dry like a text book."

    I have never been a mathematically inclined person so all the probability talk, the adding and multiplying didn't interest me. I was looking forward to a more "human" approach to this subject.
    There were some interesting points made and a few highlights but the title suggested a "lighter" but still informative read. I felt it was more like listening to a text book.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. K. Jardine USA 09-27-08
    J. K. Jardine USA 09-27-08 Member Since 2007

    KURT

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Kept me interested"

    Very informative, and well worth the time to listen

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Mesa, az, United States 04-17-12
    Amazon Customer Mesa, az, United States 04-17-12 Member Since 2003

    My Opinion's for your review, Thank You!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
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    "Drunkards walk"

    Hard to listen to if you do not have a mathematical mind. Yet it still had some good qualities. And if you really listen it, some of it is not to hard to follow. for me it was still a good listen. Even though I'm not much of a logic thinker.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Stevenson Ranch, CA, USA 02-08-10
    John Stevenson Ranch, CA, USA 02-08-10
    ratings
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    13
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    "A good refresh of ideas"

    I took a course in Probability and Statistics last year and was happily reminded of many concepts and theories from the course with historical background and practical application to put them in context. The book isn't overly complex in my opinion, but I didn't really want to be thinking that hard while driving anyway. I also appreciated the author's value of hard work and determination to increase your odds of success instead of relying on so-called luck.

    Side note: The reader for this book was more interesting and varied than the one for Mlodinow's other book on Audible, "Euclid's Window"

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Willits, CA, United States 08-15-08
    Chris Willits, CA, United States 08-15-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    139
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    "Well done - but little fire"

    Interesting, but not a lot of fire.

    4 of 15 people found this review helpful
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