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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

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall

Prob. Theory not "How Randomness ..."

This book in a poor choice for anyone who wants to learn "How Randomness Rules Our Lives." It is basically the history and development of Probability Theory with a few (good) examples of how it may be used to better understand some things in the world around us.

I already understood and liked Probability Theory, and wanted to learn "How Randomness Rules Our Lives." This book didn't deliver much in that direction.

25 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Plantation, FL, United States
  • 09-19-08

Interesting

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.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Vira
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • 03-31-13

A Misnomer

The content of this book does not live up to its title. It does not show how 'Randomness Rules our Lives'! I expected something completely different. As I'm not particularly into maths and stats, I felt bombarded by it, whereas that which would have been of interest to me was missing. I barely managed to finish listening, and eventually raced through at full speed simply to get it over with.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not what title suggests...

Not really sure what it is though. More about probablility theory development. There are some really interesting parts that I found fasinating... but on the whole it was too easy for my brain to space it out and I had to rewind a lot to figure out where I was before my brain turned off. It would be of great interest to mathmatically inclined people, theorists or perhaps gamblers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

If you like the Malcolm Gladwell books...

What did you love best about The Drunkard's Walk?

The first half of this book is very informative and very entertaining at the same time. It is a history of the science of probability with many interesting anecdotes and background stories. If you like listening to the Malcolm Gladwell books, then you should enjoy this book. The second half of the book goes into a lot more detail about normal distributions and standard deviations, which is more difficult to comprehend while driving, but is still informative.

The statistical analysis of investment fund managers compared to the general performance of the stock market showed that the fund managers' performance follows a normal distribution, suggesting that all of their fund returns are base more on chance than on talent.

What other book might you compare The Drunkard's Walk to and why?

This book was similar to the author's book "Subliminal", and he uses some of the same source material. I highly recommend that book, too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Jeff
  • VANCOUVER, WA, United States
  • 12-20-11

Excellent introduction to statistics & probability

What did you love best about The Drunkard's Walk?

It was very interesting. As some other readers have pointed out he spends a lot of time covering the history of the development of modern statistics. For someone like me, who was not familiar with this, it was a very interesting listen. In fact, I might listen to it again sometime to try and get a better handle on who invented what. There are a lot of names to remember in a single listen. But even without remembering names and dates, it was still very interesting to learn how the field developed and what kind of thinking lead these historical thinkers to develop such powerful mathematical tools.

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

No I haven't. But this was pretty good.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wouldn't say that really... but it kept me entertained enough that I wanted to come back to it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Timothy
  • College Station, TX, United States
  • 11-09-11

Excellent book! Enjoyed every minute!

I found this book absolutely fascinating. It's the kind of book that makes you think about things differently, and I found that when I wasn't listening to it, I spent a lot of time thinking through the things I had heard last time I listened. The book is great, the narrator is great, if you're a fan of science, and of learning new, mind-expanding things you hadn't thought about before, read this!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great to refresh knowledge

I have a solid background on probabilities and statistics and technically I didn't learn a lot from the book but the examples, a lot of them!, are the best.

Explain probabilities, normal distribution and variance without a graphics, whiteboard or paper to people without mathematical background is really difficult and this book with very good examples does it!

Excellent reading for everybody.

Carlos.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Statistics Class

This book is like statistics class. I did not think it really talked about how randomness rules our lives. I think Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, is better for this topic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 10-21-10

Interesting but....

its was a bit technical, lots of math which was rather hard to follow while listening. I would therefore suggest reading this one instead of listening to it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful