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
"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)
mostly nonfiction listener
The author, a physicist at Cal Tech, is among those rare academics who both write beautifully, and can manage to make complex explanations understandable. This book definitely changed how I understand some fundamental aspects of my life and the lives of those around me, as getting a handle on randomness and probability (which again, our brains don't seem to be built easily to accomplish), helps illuminate some of the fundamental errors in judgment that I seem to make all too often.
This is a really great book. A much more in depth and fascinating look at how our lives are governed by chance than any of the recent popular titles that claim to be about the subject. It's read beautifully too with just the right tone of sardonic humour. Some of the ideas did not sink in as I have it on while I am working...I am just going to have to listen to it again
This is another book that discusses how randomness, or nonrandomness surrounds us and makes the case it might be in our best interest to know when certain events are random and when they are not.
The book discusses the use and basic principles of probabillity without getting into the mathematical details - although there are 1 or 2 sections where he explains things in some detail (with words, not equations). He also provides a bit of interesting background on the people that developed the concepts. I am a PhD scientist and found this background information delightful and felt it added something to the principles that were discovered.
There are some very interesting examples that he supplies...for instance, if you are told a family has 2 children and one of them is a girl, what are the odds that the other is a girl...this seems straight forward but what if you are told one of the girls is named 'Florida' -- does that change the odd? The answer is yes - but you need to read the book to find out why...Many other interesting examples and lessons were taught.
A good book for those who want to know when to attribute the good performance of a company to the CEO or if it's just chance...if you're team is losing, should you change managers? Which is the more effective teaching tool, the carrot or the stick? These any other questions are approached from the view of randomness.
If you have ANY interest in events, how and why they happen, and how are (mis)understanding of the forces that shape those events occur then you will LOVE this book!
I picked this up because it was featured on the Audible home page and I had a couple of extra credits. I was looking for something different to listen to when walking the dog and waiting in airports. I had taken advanced math in high school, but, to be honest, I only excelled in the courses due to an excellent teacher (Thank you, Mrs. Claybrook), and then I stopped doing any kind of real algebra, trig, or calculus. At this point in my life, my brain stops working as soon as I hear numbers being tossed around.
However, this book dealt with theory and history rather than functions and numbers. In the end, it was a very entertaining listen; chronicling the development of random theory from probability theory. Living in the Vegas area, I found the passages on gambling very engaging and interesting. I'll grant that the subject matter is not one that everyone will embrace, but this "math" book has changed a few notions of this "non-math" person.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
Sits on my shelf next to all those other soft-serve pop economics, behavioral economics, science and statistics books (think Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, Predicitably Irrational, Gang Leader for a Day & Sway). From my perspective Drunkard's Walk is more coherent in theme and better written than most (the ones I named are all ones I feel are top shelf, pop soft-science). Anyway, a very good narrative introduction to both randomness and statistics.
Only a few audiobooks are so good that I'll circle the block continuously at the end of a drive home, unwilling to end the "read" by parking in the driveway. This is one. The material is so good, so well read, and so germane to the current world that it should practically be required (and pleasurable) reading for all.
This book is an excellent history lesson into the foundation and principles of probability and statistics. Great applications of randomness including a section on Charles Perrow's Natural Accident Theory which is very well done. Highly recommended for anyone interested in statistics.
Longtime Audible enthusiast!
I found this an enjoyable listen. It was not too obtuse, although there were times I would have preferred to see some of the problems on the written page and I found myself rewinding the audio to listen to certain paragraphs several times.
Yes, it is about probability theory, the history thereof and some current applications, but there is more. The author attempts to humanize the effects of randomness, statistics, accidents of fate by using examples from life, like the OJ trial, Roger Maris' record, Bill Gate's success, etc.
Easy to listen to, not too heavy. You don't have to be a statistics or calculus expert to appreciate this book.
As someone who has never liked math or found it particularly applicable to my own daily life, I wish I had read this book a long time ago. Not only did it clarify some of the concepts of probability and statistics that never really made sense to me, it also planted seeds of interest in fields of study I'd never heard of, such as forensic statistics. Mlodinow does a fantastic job of exploring the balance between order and randomness in popular arenas like Hollywood and the sports world, and somehow manages to make the history of these branches of mathematics interesting and humorous. I plan to revisit this book in the future to see whether its lessons will hold a different meaning at a different point in my life and in the world.
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