Drunkard's Walk

Drunkard's Walk

How Randomness Rules Our Lives

Book - 2008 | 1st ed
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In this irreverent and illuminating book, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, change, 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 cases, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.
The rise and fall of your favorite movie star of the most reviled CEO--in fact, of all our destinies--reflects as much as planning and innate abilities. Even the legendary Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky. And it might be shocking to realize that you are twice as likely to be killed in a car accident on your way to buying a lottery ticket than you are to win the lottery.
How could it have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars, the highest rating, in one journal and in another it was called the worst wine of the decade? Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how 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 change 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 readers 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 fresh from a night at the bar.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375424045
Branch Call Number: 519.2 M699d
Characteristics: xi, 252 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Sep 06, 2020

john cleese recommendation in NYT books

Sep 11, 2018

A wonderfully fun read that explains in readable and humorous ways the history and uses of statistics and randomness. The historical anecdotes are a bit misleading at times and although fun to read, there are no suggestions for further reading, including more serious study.

Nov 26, 2017

Author's use of humor and historical anecdotes makes a potentially dry subject into an enjoyable read. Destroys many myths re success in sport, management, and stock fund management. An entertaining introduction to probability and statistics, and a reminder of how broadly applicable (and not well applied) they are in daily living.

Jun 30, 2016

"The Drunkard's Walk" gives an engaging tour of the world of probability and statistics. Leonard Mlodinow writes in a personal, lively and non-technical fashion. His examples range from the foundations of Pascal and deMoivre through the current applications in neurology and social psychology.

Sep 02, 2014

A fascinating look at the science of randomness, which, according to the author, is vastly misunderstood by the mass media, the legal system and society in general. Mlodinow’s lively writing and humor illuminates what could have been a dry topic (math, statistics) with examples from the World Series, professional gambling and the movie industry. You’ll think twice about your next encounter with a “crazy coincidence.”

Jul 14, 2014

This book which chronicles the development of and progress of Probability and Statistics is well-written and makes a very complicated subject easy. Mlodinow uses examples and tests from everyday life to illustrate complex subjects and succeeds in getting through to us. An eminently readable book.

Mar 09, 2014

A nice book: easy to read, with a good message (on compassion to others and appreciation of what we have), with many entertaining details about lives of math geniuses, and many humorous lines. Great book!

Jul 23, 2012

A must read for everyone. It is the most entertaining math book I've ever read. It even includes a nice history of probability and statistics.

Jun 27, 2012

SPL get some copies to put on hold- I wanna read this!

Dec 16, 2011

A very entertaining podcast of a lecture given by the author discussing this book can be found at:


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