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Preview — The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow
The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
In this new book, physicist Leonard Mlodinow attempts to show why underestimating randomness is really not a good idea. He lays a foundatio ...more
I love the story about the "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade Magazine. Marilyn vos Savant holds the record for the world's highest IQ. She discussed the famous "Monty Hall" problem, and got aggra ...more
The book is a bit chatty, and needs to focus a bit more on errors people make with statistics in their personal lives ... but Mlodinow hit on an essential concept.
I liked this lesson: that successful people are lucky, but that lucky people are persistent, flexible, and brave.
I watched the movie "21" in which a team of college students under the tutelage of a greedy professor make tons of money in Las Vegas by counting cards while playing Black Jack. In one scene of the movie, probabilities are discussed and the professor brings up the scenario of the 3 doors on "Let's Make a Deal" and asks the class if it's better to stick with your first choice of doors AFTER the host reveals one of the doors behind which ...more
Briefly, but entertaining all the while, the author discusses famous incidents which illuminate the psychology behind mistaken beliefs of 'winning', discussing, ...more
This book made me admire what modern statistics—a topic I couldn't care less—is capable of doing and convinced me, like Taleb's The Black Swan and Burton Malkiel's Random Walk Down Wall Street how randomness really rules our lives and it's important to recognize chance events and not mistakenly assign them some causality that's not there. The history of probability theory and statistics Mlodinow tells in this book is nothing short of fascinating, and I was floored by the answers to some ...more
If we were all unfeeling iRobots (floor cleaners) who respond to the random encounters in our lives by simply changing direction then the premise of this book is justified, for we would all follow our individual drunkard's walks to whatever probabilistic future awaits us. (view spoiler)[However taking this a step further, Leonard Mlodinow suggests that much of how our lives transpire is happenstance, defined by a supreme law of probability that governs what we experience and perceive as humans....more
Manches wird ein bisschen aufdringlich wiederholt (ok, Lektoren und Weinexperten sind auch nur Menschen), und manches ist ...more
The Drunkard's walk, despite Mr. Mlodinow's attempts at following Mr. Gladwell's formula, does not succeed in copying Mr. Gladwell's easy to read voice as well. First of all, although the subtitle SAYS "how randomness rules our lives," I actually found the book to be ...more
I'm rereading it, but now I have a pavlovian sleep reaction to the text. I may never be able to grasp random now.
I thought it was interesting that he was able to explain things so clearly without using any formulas. Maybe I should recommend it to my students.
Mlodinow writes anecdotally, using salient examples from the news and his own life to illustrate how, in every conceivable domain, even intelligent people can't ...more
Mlodinow explains that there are basically two definitions of random, and they don't always go together (pp. 84-85). The first is by Charles Sanders Peirce and basically states that a process or method is tr ...more
Agh, I love this book. The first time I read it, I hadn't yet encountered The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference or Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. On a second read, I discovered just how snarky Mlodinow is about them and their tendency to infer patterns where they may or may not exist. I still think he goes too far, though. Just because randomness is everywhere doesn't mean that there isn't an underlying signal; ra ...more
I'm revising my rating of this up a star, because I just realized that I'm still thinking about one of this book's concepts years later (specifically, how we view people who depend on factors outside of their direct control— CEOs, baseball players, etc.—without taking a long view of the trend towards the mean, thereby discounting the effects of random chance when evaluating their performance). Whatever nits I picked at the time I read it, this book taught me something interesting t ...more
Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1959, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald death camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule in his hometown of Częstochowa, Poland. As a child, Mlodinow was interested in both mathematics and chemistry, and while in high schoo ...more
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We also use our imagination and take shortcuts to fill gaps in patterns of nonvisual data. As with visual input, we draw conclusions and make judgments based on uncertain and incomplete information, and we conclude, when we are done analyzing the patterns, that out “picture” is clear and accurate. But is it?”