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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 (3501 )
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4.0 (2279 )
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4.0 (2310 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Stacy Lee 03-05-12
    Stacy Lee 03-05-12

    Stacy Lee

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    75
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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
  •  
    Jon North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-16-11
    Jon North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-16-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    Story
    "Already knew some stats. Not good at triple speed"
    Any additional comments?

    I listen to podcasts and audiobooks at triple speed all the time, but I had a tough time listening to this book. This is especially true when the author cites numbers, and there's lots of them. I'll take it as a good sign that I had some trouble because I must have been engaging my brain while the author speaks, so I miss some things he say.

    If you listen at triple speed, be prepared to either listen to it again, or just sit relatively still. It was hard to multitask.

    A good book overall though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Upland, CA, United States 12-07-11
    Nathan Upland, CA, United States 12-07-11 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nothing random about how enjoyable this is."
    If you could sum up The Drunkard's Walk in three words, what would they be?

    Insightful, amusing, evocative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The simple and yet unforgiving manner in which the author debunks all our popular assumptions and misconceptions about chance and randomness.


    What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

    His reading is honest and straight-forward, making the dry humor as understated as the author surely intended.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This is not a book to move you, in my opinion, but to get your head wrapped around the depth of incongruity between intuition and logic.


    Any additional comments?

    Read (or listen) to this book with an open mind, and be honest with yourself! You will be surprised at how many of these pitfalls you suffer from.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Orange, Australia 11-30-11
    Jeff Orange, Australia 11-30-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    "Unable to Open"

    This not a fair review because for some unknown reason I have been unable to open this book on my kindle.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross San Remo, Australia 11-20-11
    Ross San Remo, Australia 11-20-11
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    "Very interesting, highly recommend"

    If you're at all interested in probability, statistics, and how they relate to everyday life, this book is a must-read. There's a lot of information that will make you look at day-to-day decisions, outcomes, and happenstance in an entirely different way.

    Leonard Mlodinow is a brilliant man, and here he's delivered an important and complex subject in a very interesting, easy to understand, and compelling way. I found the explanations of theory to be very well thought-out, and the real-world examples to be at once familiar and thought-provoking.

    I also think Sean Pratt's delivery was really well done; it took me a little while to get comfortable with (no particular reason), but once I was I found myself drawn into the narration and story completely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Mick Conroy
    7/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "As if Bill Bryson did statistics!"

    Entertaining, with just they right mix of history, interesting anecdotes, applied examples and accomplished narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jan W. H. Schnupp
    Oxford, England
    6/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The lighter and the darker sides of probability"

    Mathematical subjects can be awfully dry, but in this book the author weaves a highly accessible, enjoyable and enlightening tapestry of the history of mathematical thinking on luck and chance. Thought provoking examples of the counter-intuitive nature of randomness and chance are interwoven with little vignettes of the sometimes surprising episodes of the lives of pioneering probability theorists. Take for example Cardano, who invented probability theory to beat others at dice games in order to pay his way through renaissance medical school. He rose to become chair of the medical school, only to be betrayed to the inquisition by his own incestuous and cruel children who were maneuvering for "cushy" jobs as full time torturers and henchmen. What are the odds of that? Or, indeed, what are the odds that a mother will kill two of her children? Or that OJ Simpson got away with murder? You don't have to die to find out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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