The Drunkard’s Walk: How randomness rules our lives
By Leonard Mlodinow
Allen Lane 2008
for Chemistry & Industry, and my full-page review is in issue 22, page 31, which is out this week.
Here's a snippet:
For me, the highlight of his book is the short biography of the gambler, medic, inventor, and arguably father of statistics, Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576). He published 131 books, invented a part that you will find in every car on the roads today, and made a living from applying statistical analysis to gambling at a time when everybody else considered the outcome of chance events as determined by the will of God. With the spellbinding lives of Cardano, and subsequent luminaries including Pascal (with his famous triangle), the Bernoulli clan, and Thomas Bayes, Mlodinow manages to make the normally boring science of statistics an interesting read. Not to become bogged down in history, he intersperses these parts with many examples of misuse of statistics and probability in modern life.
PS: To avoid confusion in navigating this blog, I've now separated blog entries referring to reviews of my books from those referring to reviews of other people's books:
booksreviewed: my books (passive indicates I'm at the receiving end of reviewing)
bookreview: reviews that I have written (or occasionally, reviews that I've read and appreciated)