This book certainly reminds me of Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan". Actually, Kahneman's name was mentioned a lot (together with Amos Tversky) in this book and it seems that Kahneman and Tversky were the pioneers who taught us how much people didn't understand randomness. I think, availability bias (p.28/26th line), heuristics (p.174/5th line) and confirmation bias (p.189/24th line) that the author discusses in this book have also been discussed at least in Kahneman's book.
Comparing this book with the above-mentioned books, this author here has discussed more in depth how to calculate the probability. At some point, I thought he's really teaching people how to calculate probability (which is probably difficult for most readers) and I've even attempted some calculations. But soon I've realized that this is not really the case as he soon turned to narrative and conceptual type of discussion. Interestingly, somebody (from ETH Zürich) has helped calculate the probability of a person with a positive mammogram actually having breast cancer (as described in the 1st paragraph of p.117) to be ~9.4%.
Overall, it's a very interesting and educational book to read even though I've read something similar before. The author does try a little to show how to calculate probability that other books aimed for the general public usually don't try. It contains a lot of interesting history that I didn't know. Eg. people didn't write about probability calculations until the 16th century --- apparently first by Gerolamo Cardano, who died in 1576 and his "Games of Chance" was not published (as it was rejected by the publisher in his lifetime!) until 1663 --- "By then his methods of analysis had been reproduced and surpassed" (last sentence on p.59). Apparently, the ancient Greek seemingly knew nothing about probability and only liked those quarters of mathematics as perfect as geometry (p.26-28) --- which is another new point of view for me :-)
In the "Index" (at the end of the book), they have listed pages "190-91" for "confirmation bias" on p.241. But actually it first appeared on the 24th line of p.189....Continua
I bought the chinese translation from a local store and read about 1/3 of it but finally decide to switch to the original version. I glad I made that decision. it's no doubt that reading the original text is much more articulate and more comprehensible.
this little book was fun and covered the essential aspects of "chance" and "randomness". as i see, one thing the author differs from kahneman, which the author quoted quite a few times in this book, is that he believed, even randomness dominated the outcome of things more than any other things, it's still necessary to plan . this book is definitely more fun but it's quite clear to me that thinking fast and slow shall be rated a notch higher....Continua
One of my favourite non-fiction works. Mlodinow provides a very complete picture of important statistical phenomena, with an interesting historical note for each (who knew centuries-ago mathematicians could be so much fun?), easy examples to understand them, and most importantly, their consequences for explaining the way as humans we behave and the mistakes we constantly make without realizing it.
I like this book because he very clearly explains what I've always known about many human pursuits but I was not able to put into words; that due to a lack of fundamental understanding those pursuits are flawed and sometimes serious mistakes are made. He also explains why when these constant mistakes are right under our nose we fail to recognize them.
You can consider the book as the history of development of probability/randomness, with vivid examples of each break-through.
It is very similar to "Fooled By Randomness". This book differs by providing better narration on the topic. If "Fooled by Randomness" opens my eyes, this book broadens my horizon!
It is a thought provoking book, with idea like regression towards the mean, availability bias (towards vivid events), Monty Hall, law of large numbers / small numbers, false positives fallacy, confirmation bias (towards our tendency to form patterns over random events), illusion of hindsight (too many red herrings before the events) etc. A good read to guard ourselves against common misconception on randomness!...Continua
I wish I read this book before Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book. The story telling skill of Leonard is even better than Malcolm Gladwell after you know he is a scientist rather than journalist. The story told in the book make sense to me, especially the part that explain why randomness was only developed long after the ancient Greek.
Anyway, it is a very good starting point to learn about randomness I believe. Sorry recommended....Continua