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Publisher's Summary

In The Improbability Principle, the renowned statistician David J. Hand argues that extraordinarily rare events are anything but. In fact, they’re commonplace. Not only that, we should all expect to experience a miracle roughly once every month.

But Hand is no believer in superstitions, prophecies, or the paranormal. His definition of "miracle" is thoroughly rational. No mystical or supernatural explanation is necessary to understand why someone is lucky enough to win the lottery twice, or is destined to be hit by lightning three times and still survive. All we need, Hand argues, is a firm grounding in a powerful set of laws: The laws of inevitability, of truly large numbers, of selection, of the probability lever, and of near enough.

Together, these constitute Hand’s groundbreaking Improbability Principle. And together, they explain why we should not be so surprised to bump into a friend in a foreign country, or to come across the same unfamiliar word four times in one day. Hand wrestles with seemingly less explicable questions as well: What the Bible and Shakespeare have in common, why financial crashes are par for the course, and why lightning does strike the same place (and the same person) twice. Along the way, he teaches us how to use the Improbability Principle in our own lives - including how to cash in at a casino and how to recognize when a medicine is truly effective.

An irresistible adventure into the laws behind "chance" moments and a trusty guide for understanding the world and universe we live in, The Improbability Principle will transform how you think about serendipity and luck, whether it’s in the world of business and finance or you’re merely sitting in your backyard, tossing a ball into the air and wondering where it will land.

©2014 David J. Hand (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • J. C.
  • Thailand
  • 03-02-14

Really interesting and fun

This is an exciting book and a wonderful listen. There is a history of how people think about probability. The oldest known records are tables of outcomes in an ancient gambling game. You will love this book if you like being challenged and finding out why things are the way they are in science, math and the human mind. I didn't want it to end. I now have much more insight into probability than I did before. I definitely recommend this book. You will love it! The narration is excellent. This book is exciting and fun, I highly recommend it, especially if you like math, science, and psychology and want to know the reasons why things are the way they are in the universe. The author explains why miracles absolutely DO happen. Listen to find out why.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Debunking superstitions

What did you love best about The Improbability Principle?

Difficult mathematics of probability theory explained clearly in non-mathematical language.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The different laws of improbability are explained convincingly that the impossible is plausible.

Have you listened to any of Paul Hodgson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, not before. Paul's narrative is excellent, spoken with clarity and enthusiasm.

If you could give The Improbability Principle a new subtitle, what would it be?

Not that impossible

Any additional comments?

Better to listen to a chapter or two each time and not in its entirety (if you have that much of time). Needs reflection and slow digestion.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Extremely tedious

Any additional comments?

This is the worst of the excellent probability/chance audiobooks I've got from Audible. It is more technical; perhaps a better fit for mathematicians or the more mathematically inclined.

Also, tables and figures are being very often referenced and they were not included with the audio version via .pdf file. Speaking of .pdf files, why are they not connected to and viewable by, the app?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Great Principle - Pretty Good Book

This book was highly repetitive. Not in content but in principle. It could have been a lot shorter, with the same effect.

That said, the book did a great job of highlighting the likely outcome of unlikely possibilities on a large scale.

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  • Story

Not meant to be audiobook; but, still...

Good story; gives a very unique perspective on what we regard to be "luck" or "chance" in our everyday lives;
BUT, this book was not meant to an audiobook -- buy the actual book, if you can. Why?
- Too many references to "chart / table so and so", "appendix x, y,z", etc.
- Depending on the context, frequent readouts of long formulas and numbers (even the Pi!!)
It all requires a high level of concentration for "listening" (thanks, Audible app, for the instant 10/20/30 sec rewind feature:))

  • Overall
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  • Story

A book with many fine insights to keep in mind

Books like this would be better read, imo. Very hard to refer back to anything, as you might want to if the subject matter interests you, without you writing up your own extensive notes. Chapter titles would be nice!

Content-wise, I enjoyed the second half more than the first, as the subject matter became more sophisticated. A summary chapter would be nice. The narrator was good.

  • Overall
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  • Story

Horrible book on Statistics.... Big Sleeper

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This book was horrible.... If you like lame lectures on statistics, then this book is for you.

Would you ever listen to anything by David J. Hand again?

The reader was fine, the story was horrible.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not really.... couldn't even get to the end

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great book

I have really enjoyed this book. Nice approach to the problem of the unlikely. I totally recommend it

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Graham
  • 02-24-15

It's improbable that this was published.

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I listen to a lot of pop sci books, but this is by far the worst. As far as I can tell, there appears to be no meaningful content at all in this book.

What could David J. Hand have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Add some meaningful content, there was no take-away at all form this book.

What didn’t you like about Paul Hodgson’s performance?

It was probably the content that had an impact on the low score. If you don't have great content to read, it's hard to make it sound interesting.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Honestly, no. The book was so bad I'm thinking about cancelling my Audible subscription for a while and moving to reading Kindle books. The fact I even had that thought should be telling of how bad this book is.

Any additional comments?

Hours of my life wasted.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful