The Drunkard's Walk
How Randomness Rules Our Lives
Leonard Mlodinow's The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives is an exhilarating, eye-opening guide to understanding our random world.
Randomness and uncertainty surround everything we do. So why are we so bad at understanding them?
The same tools that help us understand the random paths of molecules can be applied to the randomness that governs so many aspects of our everyday lives, from winning the lottery to road safety, and reveals the truth about the success of sporting heroes and film stars, and even how to make sense of a blood test.
The Drunkard's Walk reveals the psychological illusions that prevent us understanding everything from stock-picking to wine-tasting - read it, or risk becoming another victim of chance.
'A wonderfully readable guide to how the mathematical laws of randomness affect our lives' Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time
A "drunkard's walk" is a type of random statistical distribution with important applications in scientific studies ranging from biology to astronomy. Mlodinow, a visiting lecturer at Caltech and coauthor with Stephen Hawking of A Briefer History of Time, leads readers on a walk through the hills and valleys of randomness and how it directs our lives more than we realize. Mlodinow introduces important historical figures such as Bernoulli, Laplace and Pascal, emphasizing their ideas rather than their tumultuous private lives. Mlodinow defines such tricky concepts as regression to the mean and the law of large numbers, which should help readers as they navigate the daily deluge of election polls and new studies on how to live to 100. The author also carefully avoids veering off into the terra incognita of chaos theory aside from a brief mention of the famous "butterfly effect," although he might have spent a little more time on the equally famous n-body problem that led to chaos theory. Books on randomness and statistics line library shelves, but Mlodinow will help readers sort out Mark Twain's "damn lies" from meaningful statistics and the choices we face every day.