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Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities
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Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  33 reviews
From terrorist attacks to big money jackpots, Struck by Lightning deconstructs the odds and oddities of chance, examining both the relevant and irreverent role of randomness in our everyday lives. Human beings have long been both fascinated and appalled by randomness. On the one hand, we love the thrill of a surprise party, the unpredictability of a budding romance, or the ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Joseph Henry Press (first published 2005)
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Ben Thurley
Subtitled, "The Curious World of Probabilities" this book on probability and statistics should probably have been written to arouse more curiosity and less, say, boredom or déja vu.

It's not terrible by any means, and there are certainly some helpful lessons for the mathematical layperson here. But rather than enlivening statistics it tends towards the repetitious, and the author's real-world examples and applications are either too cursory or lacking in drama to grab the imagination.

There are fa

Había visto este libro hacía un tiempo, y por fin me he hecho con él. Este libro tiene de todo, estimados lectores. El autor le da un repaso a muchos, muchísimos aspectos de la teoría de probabilidades que están, de una u otra manera, relacionados con la vida cotidiana. En 264 cortas páginas hay un montonazo de información.

Comenzamos leyendo sobre la Ley de los grandes números, que nos dice que, a medida que vayamos haciendo “experimentos” (es decir, tirando un dado, jugando a la ruleta, lanzan

This is a very well-written, very interesting and informative book about MATH! Believe it! It is funny and applicable and I'm going to find everything I can by this author. He teaches math like Mary Roach teaches curiosities. He brings probability concepts to the common man.

It was fabulous! I really can't stress enough what a master teacher he is. It makes one think about loving math.
As an IT Professional I am often working with mathematical, statistical and logical problems; I chose this book to discover some of the fun and interesting parts of statistics.

The very core concept of the book is to empower the reader to question and interpret statistics that they are exposed to in daily life. Well written stories and anecdotes back up the famous phrase "lies, damned lies, and statistics".

By the end of the book you will have picked up a number of interesting facts to regurgitate
Started off with some interesting scenarios and then explored the odds behind them. Makes coincidences and random events seem less random and more predictable. Too much time was spent on gambling and the odds behind different games. Obviously casinos make money so they are going to stack the odds in their favor. Best part was the explanation of scientific studies and how they determine if a study shows a correlation. What they are looking for is a p-value of less than .05, meaning there is only ...more
An interesting look at the world of probabilities. I am a little biased since I have heard him speak and find him a fascinating guy, but the problem with this book is that it isn't the other books on the same subject that came out at the same time. This book is neither Freakonomics or either of Taleb's books, and shouldn't be compared as such, but it is inevitable that it will be.

He writes very well and simplifies a complicated subject. A very good lay-man's look into how probabilities affect yo
Even though it was written in a fun way, it was still over my head in some places :)

It was a very interesting read.
Quick read. Some chapters more interesting to me than others. Don't really care about gambling probabilities but disease/medical stuff was good.
Preet Bhinder
Excellent book - made me want to dig out my high school mathematics books and read the chapters on probability again. Wish I had this perspective in high school - would have made me look at school in a different light.

Poisson clumping and the law of large average numbers were very interesting as were utility functions.

On the flip side, the author's political bias became a bit obvious a couple of times and a little more mathematical perspective about how to repeat the calculations done by the au
Quite alright. The author managed to strike that right balance between being informal and not being one of those people (like me) that tries too hard to be conversational and just ends up being really irritating in the process (well, ok, it still leans a bit over to this end). Gave me a slightly better intuition for the way that stats and prob folks think about stuff, and has lots of practical insight into real life.

No wild enthusiasm, but worth my while overall.
The title sounded so good, but my optimistic hopes of a book of the calibre of Freakenomics were sorely dashed. It's a math geek writing about math dilemmas that failed to connect with me as a lay person. If I loved, lived, and breathed math, I wouldn't need to read the book. It failed to bridge the gap between math academic and curious (but non-geek), Joe Public.

I couldn't make myself finish it.
Jaime L.
This is a great read for everyone wanting to know about probability theory without having to open a statistics text book (after having to haul them around for three years I can't blame anyone for wanting to avoid this). The theory is explained in an easily understood way with practical applications for theoretical point.
Probability theory made fun! This book is very accessible and I highly recommend it. I have no math background but followed it pretty easily. Written in a clear style, and with a sharp wit, the author debunks many common phalacies. Evidence for why a flu shot is good and why we should all chill out about terrorism.
props must be given to the author for such well explained statistics. however much of it is basic and the 'anecdotes' are mundane. this book is great for anyone who has had difficulty understanding concepts in statistics and probabilities because he explains it so simply and straightforwardly. But it is somewhat dry.
I really enjoyed this book. Being a non-math person, I found the book an excellent introduction to the world of probabilities. Finding books that take a complex subject and make them accessible to those among us with limited background are rare enough; those that do it with wit are better still.
Elizabeth Gosse
I finally finished this book. By the end I was getting a little bored with it. I liked the beginning and the knowledge the author convey about stats, numbers, probability. The last two chapters could have been edited down. I liked the quiz at the end that summarizes all the main points.
introduced me to the concept of Poisson clumping and Poisson bursts. Will change your outlook on what you perceive as "luck" or "karma"
A good but sometimes heavy read. I found a lot of its contents interesting and thought provoking. Definitely worth a read if you are remotely interested in topics like probability, or if you ever think about coincidences or "what are the chances"
Fun little book about how we can use probabilities in our everyday lives. I probably would have given it a higher rating if it wasn't stuff I knew already, just having gotten a degree in the stuff :)

Still, being an econ/stats dork, it was fun.
Lindsay Goto
It has a tendency to drag when he makes things far too simple, explaining them so profoundly that I had to skip a couple pages since I had already understood what he was saying. Otherwise, it's incredibly fun to read.
An amazing piece of work, makes some obscure theories understandable with little stories and vignettes. Leads all the way up to quantum mechanics and neural networks. Read it now~!!!
I read this book in grade 10, I think, and I really enjoyed it. It made me really interested in statistics. I really liked the "goat test" and poison clumping.
Barrette Plett
Interesting, and easy to read. A few of the examples felt kind of far from mathematical, but in general, it was readable, fun, and sometimes funny.
A real ineteresting read that showed me how probability affects us everyday. It changed the way I viewed things.
Very good read so far for those who are interested in statistics, chance and polling, and how they work.
Nov 04, 2009 Bookmason is currently reading it
How unlikely it is I will win the lottery, die in a plane crash or be struck by lightning.
entertaining, clear view of probability that will make a difficult subject easier to understand.
Sofia Kirschn
Loved it! Except for the chapter on gambling... that one didn't really speak to me.
Keith Spence
Fairly interesting to start with but loses its appeal in the last third of the book.
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