Leonard Mlodinow wrote an easy to read guide to influences of chance in our everyday life and shows how to benefit and how to evade unnecessary misfortunes.
The author explains all the necessary theoretical groundwork of stochastics and statistics 101 in a simple manner without employing any formulas. The latter makes the book accessible to anyone who is not too inclined towards mathematics, but slows reading for those knowledgeable in the field. Furthermore, he introduces the propositions in their historical context, thereby giving a catchy overview of the people and places involved.
The examples he has picked are from a wide range of everyday situations, e.g., baseball, box-office performance, cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants, casino gambling, crime scenes, executive performance, gender guessing of twins, lotteries, medical diagnoses, Pearl Harbor, wine tastings, etc. These vivid illustrations raise the awareness of the random impacts in the reader's surroundings - influences that Mlodinow shows are generally under- or overestimated beacuse the human intuition is incapable of truly conceiving randomness.
After reading this book you will have learnt three things:
1. Theory to do all sorts of calculations of randomness
2. Historical and biographical knowledge of great mathematicians
3. How randomness rules your life and what you can do to succeed anyway
The only downside of the book trying to convey all those three messages is that you should not expect 220 pages filled with "How Randomness Rules Our Lives". (Therefore, it is a four-star book for me. However, once you know this - before the purchase - it is a five star book. That is how expectations influence or perceptions; see around p. 133 in the book.)
The last 16 pages are dedicated references to other works that allow the interested reader to dig deep into the scientific realm of the topic.
Enjoy the book!
Jan Dominik Gunkel