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Aha! Gotcha: Paradoxes to Puzzle and Delight Paperback – April 1, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0716713616 ISBN-10: 0716713616

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: W H Freeman & Co (Sd) (April 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716713616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716713616
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For 25 of his 95 years, Martin Gardner wrote 'Mathematical Games and Recreations', a monthly column for Scientific American magazine. These columns have inspired hundreds of thousands of readers to delve more deeply into the large world of mathematics. He has also made significant contributions to magic, philosophy, debunking pseudoscience, and children's literature. He has produced more than 60 books, including many best sellers, most of which are still in print. His Annotated Alice has sold more than a million copies. He continues to write a regular column for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
This is not a book of logic puzzles, but a book for people who love logic and puzzles.
Maggie Hasbrouck
It is easy to read, and Gardner again shows his skill in explaining interesting phenomena in a clear and interesting way.
Pumpkin King
If you're looking for entertainment that is good brain food, you'll find this book very fulfilling.
Lenton K. Goforth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an ageless book for the people who love to think and do it well. A paradox is a situation where a supposedly valid chain of reasoning is performed and yet you end up with a conclusion that cannot be true. In many cases, the paradox is due to imprecise definitions of words or statements that are so broad in scope that they refer to themselves. For example, when a Cretan says, "All Cretans are liars." The scope of the sentence is so broad that it includes the sentence itself. Therefore, if the statement is true, the person saying it must be lying and if the statement is false, then the Cretan is telling the truth, which means that according to the statement he must be lying.

Many of the paradoxes are resolved by applying a simple analysis. Some of them are easily understood if presented in the appropriate context and no one does this better than Martin Gardner. He is truly unique in his ability to take a difficult mathematical concept and make it understandable. During his decades as the author of a regular mathematical column in Scientific American, he has done more to advance the progress of mathematics and science than anyone else in history. By turning so many young people on to mathematics, he is one of the intellectual grandfathers of hundreds of thousands of people.

This book is a delight and contains many problems that can be used in courses in mathematics, reasoning and philosophy. I strongly recommend it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Pumpkin King on June 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Aha! Gotcha is filled with very different types of puzzles than aha! Insight, which has many problems to solve. This book just presents many fun paradoxes that make you use your head, and while some of them are problems you have to take some time to solve, most are short paradoxical situations that you can think about for a short while and then go on the next page. It is easy to read, and Gardner again shows his skill in explaining interesting phenomena in a clear and interesting way. All the problems are good exercises on logical thinking and introduces various concepts of mathematics and statistics without seeming like you're studying. It is insightful enough for adults, but I think children would be able to understand these concepts too if they are interested.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rajiv Eranki on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Those who have read any of Martin Gardner's famous books know that he is the master at explaining difficult concepts in witty and precise language. This book is no exception! It's a great book to buy for children AND adults alike.
I encourage readers of this to purchase "Aha, Insight!" by the same author, and his "The (first,second,etc...) scientific american book of mathematical puzzles and diversions"
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This amazingly useful book presents the concept of paradoxes in a comfortable, light format that makes it easily presentable to children in addition to the fun cartoon drawings that accompany every paradox. Simple explanations allow enough depth to encourage further explanation of the topic. In addition, it is helpful for writing reports about paradoxes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. McCauley on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The world is lesser without Martin Gardner in it.

Martin Gardner was a supremely intelligent mathematician with a real talent for explaining complex mathematical problems in a way that lay people could understand.

Gotcha! follows the same lines. It's kind of an odd book, in that the cartoony style is a little dated and it really looks more like a kid's book or a Young Adult book. Make no mistake, it's not, though young adults could certainly benefit and enjoy.

Gardner primarily approaches logical fallacies in this book. He uses the cartoons to walk you through exactly the wrong conclusion, then steps back and brilliantly deconstructs the argument so that you can see where your normal human condition fails you and why the unintuitive answer is the mathematically correct one. That said, he does it in a way that involves minimal math and only a basic understanding of logic and reason.

That's not to say the book is dumb or dumbed down. Nothing could be further from the truth. It tackles some very complex problems and some issues that have confounded mathematicians and logicians for centuries. Some of the problems don't even have an answer, and he even manages to walk you through why we've been unable to answer the question even though the answer seems obvious.

Overall, it's just a delightful book that's easy to read and leaves you much smarter than you were when you started it. There's not many books that can make such a claim.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Intriguing and boggling concepts presented in a very relaxed, friendly manner. It's explained with funny little cartoon drawings, which are perfectly effective. It couldn't really be any better.
A must-have for anyone who wants their head to spin; that's the whole point of reading about paradox, isn't it?
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Ilhan on May 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
you will not find them in this book. It is not the kind of book you spend long times to figure out the answers. For example, for many pages in the first section, the author talks about "this sentence is wrong" type of paradoxes. I recommend "aha! Insight" if you are after brainteasers.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently dusted off my copy of this that had been sitting long on the shelf. That turned out to be a very good thing.

Martin Gardner takes a look at paradoxes and makes them very easy to understand, entertaining, and highly absorbing. He takes the reader from the easiest to understand (the liar's paradox) to the more difficult, including mathematical ones. He describes paradoxes that entertained the ancient Greeks; paradoxes in the Bible; and paradoxes created by modern writers and comedians. Most of the paradoxes are covered in one or two pages, and each comes with cartoon illustrations to make them easy to understand. The book is both serious and delightfully funny. If you are looking for something that is escapist yet pertinent to real life, you'll enjoy this short book that is 160 pages long.

There are places where Mr. Gardner's grammar is a little less than clear. I found myself having to read an occasional sentence where the structure wasn't as clear as it could be. However, this is easily overlooked because of the content. It's fairly easy to rearrange a sentence so that you can understand what he is saying, but for the most part, the writing is lucid and easily understood.

This is the kind of book that you can read, two or three pages at a time. This makes for a good coffee table book. It is also the kind of book that can be used to find out more about a certain kind of paradox by looking it up by name on the Internet when you want more material to illustrate it. Mr. Gardner does not pull these paradoxes out of thin air. Most are widely known by either philosophers, writers, comedians, and even mathematicians.

If you're looking for entertainment that is good brain food, you'll find this book very fulfilling. Get it. Read it. It's both entertaining and thought provoking.
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