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たまたま―日常に潜む「偶然」を科学する [T...
 
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Leonard Mlodinow
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たまたま―日常に潜む「偶然」を科学する [Tamatama: Nichijō Ni Hisomu Gūzen O Kagaku Suru]

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  9,409 ratings  ·  938 reviews
Leonard Mlodinow offers an irreverent look at how randomness influences our lives and how difficult it is to recognize. The Drunkard’s Walk reminds us that much in our lives is as predictable as the steps of a stumbling man, fresh from a night at the bar, and shows us what we should be paying attention to.

Suppose you want to calculate the likelihood of tossing two coins an
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354 pages
Published 2009 by Daiyamondosha (first published May 13th 2008)
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Lena
The Drunkard’s Walk is a book about randomness, a topic that most people, unless they happen to be mathematicians or have a strange fascination with statistics, probably don’t think too much about. As a species, in fact, we generally prefer not to dwell on randomness, but rather to assume that we are in control of much more of our lives than we actually are.

In this new book, physicist Leonard Mlodinow attempts to show why underestimating randomness is really not a good idea. He lays a foundatio
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Bronson
Yes, I was an English major so, yes, I LOVE literature, but my statistics courses were my favorite courses ever. I can't claim to be an expert statistician since I haven't run a chi-square analysis in eons and since I can only remember the phrase "data set" but can't remember how to collect one (kidding), but COME ON! Some of Mlodinow's information is interesting, but much of his logic seems unfounded and certainly begs some sort of question (and often a rather basic one at that). I've only fini ...more
Trevor
I hadn’t realised I had read this guy before, and remarkably recently. Euclid's Window The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace was a fascinating read and oddly enough, I was even reminded of it as I was reading this one and I still didn’t put two and two together (an appropriate enough metaphor for books on mathematics) until I was well over half way through. They are very similar books – presenting an entire field of mathematics to a non-mathematical audience from an historical ...more
David
This is a very fun, entertaining book about the myriad ways in which random phenomena affect our lives. There is nothing really new here. As a physicist, I am already well familiar will all of the concepts introduced, concerning probability and statistics. But oh--what a variety of fascinating applications!

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
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Steve Bennett
My mom carried a holy card of St. Jude with her at all times. St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. This book suggests that lost causes and what the public commonly refers to failures may just have had bad luck. Mlodinow demonstrates a lot of what the world chalks up to superior skill or thorough preparation is actually due to randomness. Or as Ecclesiastics states, in perhaps less scientific but more concise terms: "I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or ...more
Nicholaskurian
Fascinating book ... It was interesting how many people I spoke to about this get very passionate about randomness. Many people think acknowledging randomness is denying God.

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.
Shelley
The weirdest thing about reading this book was the following:
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
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aPriL eVoLvEs (ex-Groot)
There is a lot that is disturbing in this book. The author discusses in a breezy, easy to understand conversational manner how randomness and chance are behind many human decisions which we believe to be either based on educated guesses or personal skills, as well as how luck functions far more than we know in how things turn out for us.

Briefly, but entertaining all the while, the author discusses famous incidents which illuminate the psychology behind mistaken beliefs of 'winning', discussing,
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Taka
Awesome--

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
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K
I'll admit it. I like books by Malcolm Gladwell and Dan Ariely. I liked Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. I know many consider these books lightweight and pseudointellectual, and that a more incisive critical reader than I am would probably make mincemeat of them. But I find them entertaining and interesting, even if they don't always hold up to critical a ...more
Robert Delikat
You’re presented with three doors. Behind one door is a car and behind the other two doors are goats. Sound familiar? It is. You pick door number one. Instead of opening your choice, Monty opens door number two and reveals a goat. He then asks you if you wish to keep what’s behind your original choice (door one) or change your mind to door number three. If you think it makes no difference whether you switch or not and that your odds are 50/50 either way, you might be surprised at the answer and ...more
Ric

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)

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Steven
I found this book fascinating. I knew I didn't understand statistics, but I didn't realize how little I understood about randomness and probability. The Monty Hall problem (aka "Let's make a deal", Ch. 3); the effect that naming a girl child "Florida" can have on the probability of having two girls (Bayesian theory, Ch. 6, p. 107); the errors that people consistently make on relative probabilities (see, e.g., p. 36-40). I especially liked the sections on how we tend to find patterns where there ...more
Tim abraham
this book is great. it takes you through the history of how the statistics and probabilities we understand (or try to understand) today were first proven. It's amazing how probability is just simply not an intuitive thing for the human mind. be prepared for some anecdotes that will leave you scratching your head. Mlodinov examples of human biases are entertaining and thought provoking. Anyone who likes interesting factoids, data, or wants to understand the world better will find this a good read ...more
Georg
Ein richtig gutes Buch für alle die, die sich ein bisschen für Mathematik interessieren, aber in der Schule (so wie ich) spätestens bei der Integralrechnung ausgestiegen sind. Unterhaltsam und anschaulich wird einem vor Augen geführt, wie leicht man sich bei statistischen Fragen oder bei Wahrscheinlichkeiten täuschen oder auch - im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes - verrechnen kann.

Manches wird ein bisschen aufdringlich wiederholt (ok, Lektoren und Weinexperten sind auch nur Menschen), und manches ist
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Aaron
Dec 18, 2011 Aaron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested chance, gambling, and some interesting math lessons
Overall I'll give it to Leonard Mlodinow for writing a math book that's surprisingly accessible to the general public. Well, maybe it's not exactly a math book, or even a statistics book. But there's a fair amount of each and he did a fine job with keeping it generally light and interesting.

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
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Angie
I have a math background and an interest in the mind and enjoyed reading books like Predictably Irrational and Thinking, Fast and Slow. Given Mlodinow's reputation as a physicist, I expected a reasonably sophisticated presentation, albeit one that did not require a heavy math background. I was prepared for the book to be basic and probably start with the rudiments of probability, but the presentation is SO basic that the title term "drunkard's walk" does not even occur in the book until page 176 ...more
Caro
Despite the seemingly highly rated reviews this book has received, I suspect it is more of a case of this book was hard to read which means it must be good that accounts for its ratings rather than any credit to the author's writing.

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
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Angus Mcfarlane
This was far froma random walk through the history and application of statistics and probability to ebryday life, although the typos in the last chapters of the kindle version might support the opposite conclusion. Although many of the topics are familiar to late high school/early university maths courses, the history, anecdotal illustrations and examples are woven together to build an enjoyable story of what is generally considered to be a dry topic. Most of the examples are not heavy on the ma ...more
Mike
A very good and accessible introduction to probability and randomness. Most people don't appreciate the fact that most of what we see every day is the product of chance. Social scientists are, ironically, sometimes more blind to this fact than others, because we are trained to hunt for patterns, and we therefore tend to find them even if they aren't there. (For anyone who does statistics, one way of thinking about this is that the typical social scientist routinely underestimates the magnitude o ...more
Jessica
I am, admittedly, completely dense when it comes to mathematics, statistics, and various scientific theoretical discussions, but this book not only made me understand complex (and counterintuitive) analyses about how randomness is a key element in our lives, but Mlodinow's conversational, witty, and lucid discussion absolutely entranced me. This is a fascinating book about a fascinating subject, and even if you don't usually go in for this sort of thing, I really recommend it.
Debbie
This is an excellent layperson's primer on the mathematics of randomness. Unfortunately, I was reading it just before bed, getting through a page a night before falling asleep. Took me forever to finish, particularly since I needed to reread the passage from the night before (or further back, so I could follow the logic of his statements.

I'm rereading it, but now I have a pavlovian sleep reaction to the text. I may never be able to grasp random now.
Cassandra Kay Silva
So this was pretty good. I had it on my to read list for awhile so I may have built it up a bit too much in my mind before getting started though because I kept waiting for the book to "pick up" in some areas. Overall though good read, really enjoyable. A lot of these anecdotes have been used before though. I think he could have come up with a few more unique scenarios. Still it was fun. I have always thought the wine ratings were a bit suss anyway.
Margie
Jan 14, 2012 Margie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: PhD candidates whose presentations ALWAYS include formulas
Recommended to Margie by: Liz
Worth reading, and for me it's worth buying. Explains a lot of mathematical theories related to probabilities and chance in clear, friendly language.

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.
Zach
This is an excellent layman's guide to how random chance dictates various aspects of our lives, and how poorly equipped the human mind is to deal with randomness, even after training. It's also a good primer on various core concepts of statistics and probability, such as combinatorics, confidence intervals, and the central limit theorem.

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
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Vy
This is an enjoyable synopsis of basic principles of probability and statistics. Lest that sound like an oxymoron, Mlodinow really does manage to be entertaining while covering such topics as Pascal's triangle, normal distributions, standard deviations, Chi square analysis, Bayesian analysis, and type I and type II statistical errors. He weaves in thought-provoking questions and injects interesting anecdotes about the mathematicians who came up with these ideas. If you are a mathematician, you w ...more
Trip
To get to its core idea, this book passes through basic probability theory, human cognitive shortcomings, the history of probability theory, biographical anecdotes of mathematicians, and the Monty Hall problem, but it does finally end up at "The cord that tethers ability to success is both loose and elastic." (p216). It's easy to see patterns in what has already happened, and construct narratives about how successes are due to personal virtues of those who succeeded and failures due to personal ...more
Jamie
Yeah, that's right. A book about probability theory. And actually, it's not bad if you can either shrug off or endure a bit of lecturing on basic mathematics and statistics. Author Leonard Mlodinow sets out to review the history of probability, starting with the ancient Greeks and following the field's evolution and application. Mlodinow has a pretty good style, keeping things relatively low level so that anyone with a high school education in math can probably follow along. He also peppers the ...more
Carly
**edited 12/15/13

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
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Justin
UPDATE 4/30/13

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
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Science and Inquiry: April 2012 - Drunkard's Walk 36 95 May 25, 2012 10:15PM  
  • Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life
  • Complexity: A Guided Tour
  • Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another
  • Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious
  • The Mathematical Universe: An Alphabetical Journey Through the Great Proofs, Problems, and Personalities
  • Number: The Language of Science
  • Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
  • How to Lie with Statistics
  • Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry
  • On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not
  • Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
  • The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics
  • Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
  • Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
  • Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart
  • Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
  • Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World
1399
Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist and author.

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
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More about Leonard Mlodinow...
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace The Grand Design Kids of Einstein Elementary #2: Titanic Cat

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“Perception requires imagination because the data people encounter in their lives are never complete and always equivocal. For example, most people consider that the greatest evidence of an event one can obtain is to see it with their own eyes, and in a court of law little is held in more esteem than eyewitness testimony. Yet if you asked to display for a court a video of the same quality as the unprocessed data catptured on the retina of a human eye, the judge might wonder what you were tryig to put over. For one thing, the view will have a blind spot where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. Moreover, the only part of our field of vision with good resolution is a narrow area of about 1 degree of visual angle around the retina’s center, an area the width of our thumb as it looks when held at arm’s length. Outside that region, resolution drops off sharply. To compensate, we constantly move our eyes to bring the sharper region to bear on different portions of the scene we wish to observe. And so the pattern of raw data sent to the brain is a shaky, badly pixilated picture with a hole in it. Fortunately the brain processes the data, combining input from both eyes, filling in gaps on the assumption that the visual properties of neighboring locations are similar and interpolating. The result - at least until age, injury, disease, or an excess of mai tais takes its toll - is a happy human being suffering from the compelling illusion that his or her vision is sharp and clear.

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?”
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“The cord that tethers ability to success is both loose and elastic. It is easy to see fine qualities in successful books or to see unpublished manuscripts, inexpensive vodkas, or people struggling in any field as somehow lacking. It is easy to believe that ideas that worked were good ideas, that plans that succeeded were well designed, and that ideas and plans that did not were ill conceived. And it is easy to make heroes out of the most successful and to glance with disdain at the least. But ability does not guarantee achievement, nor is achievement proportional to ability. And so it is important to always keep in mind the other term in the equation—the role of chance…What I’ve learned, above all, is to keep marching forward because the best news is that since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized.” 13 likes
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