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Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty Paperback – April 24, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (April 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140297863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140297867
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is an important book, full of relevant examples and worrying case histories. By the end of it, the reader has been presented with a powerful set of tools for understanding statistics...anyone who wants to take responsibly for their own medical choices should read it" - New Scientist

About the Author

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director of the Centre for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition (ABC) at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and a former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

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Customer Reviews

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I recommend this book to everyone, specially MD and other workers in healthcare.
Karmen Stanic
The author also presents examples of how the logic of probability is applied incorrectly, such as in "prosecutor's fallacy" and DNA testing.
Smet
Mr. Gigerenzer does an excellent job of explaining his points using real world examples rather than mathematical equations and proofs.
Al

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Smet on June 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
As far as I am concerned, statistics deserves much more attention in the school curriculum than it gets at present. In general, few of us understand the concept of probability, and it is often distorted and misunderstood.

In this book Gigerenzer presents numerous examples of such misunderstanding, mostly from medicine and jurisprudence. If you test HIV positive, what are the chances that you actually have the virus? Surprisingly, most doctors (including myself before reading this book) don't know the answer. The same is true regarding mammography. The author also presents examples of how the logic of probability is applied incorrectly, such as in "prosecutor's fallacy" and DNA testing. Importantly, he also shows how to interpret complicated statistical data and convert it into natural frequencies that are easily understood.

Despite the complexity of the topic, the book is not difficult to read and is written with the good sense of humor. It is not an academic text and is entertaining. Anyone who is faced with the choices regarding medical screening or treatment will find it very useful. I re-read this book many times and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book also changed the way I look at medical research and apply it in my medical practice.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Franco Arda on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
but the author shook my firm believe in this. as a finance "specialist" i always believed that even the trained mind in probabilities had difficulties with imagining and visualising odds. the authors argument in this book is ground-breaking to me. probabilities, percentages and other normalised forms of representing risk are relatively recent. In contrast, natural frequencies result from natural sampling, the process by which humans and animals have encountered information about ris during most of their evolution. just for this part, chapter 1 "insight", the book is wort every penny for those interested in probability and the perception of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Perera on August 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
The test for breast cancer is extremely reliable. It correctly detects breast cancer in 90% of cases when the cancer does exist, and only mistakenly reports it in 9% of cases when the cancer doesn't exist. The incidence of breast cancer in women is 1 in 100. Suppose you (or, for men, a woman close to you) take a test for breast cancer, and unfortunately it returns a positive result (i.e. it detects the cancer). What is the probability that you do have breast cancer? Would you be surprised to know it's just 10%? Not 90%, 99% or some other high number?

Another example: DNA testing on a murder weapon matches your DNA, and a forensic expert says there's only a 1 in 100,000 chance of that happening. Are you doomed? Would you be surprised to know that in a city of, say, 2 million people, this means you're 95% likely to be NOT guilty, based on that DNA evidence alone?

Do these examples surprise and confuse you? If so, take heart: They surprise and confuse most people - laypeople and experts (doctors and lawyers) alike. Unfortunately, this can have disastrous - sometimes tragic - consequences in law, medicine and other fields.

This is the topic of Gerd Gigerenzer's excellent book about working with risk and uncertainty. Read it and you might be horrified at some of the horrible mistakes being made by experts giving advice. At least you'll be in a better position to question them and become better informed.

Is this the best book ever written about dealing with uncertainty? I'm not sure. But it's certainly well worth the read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although most of the examples are focussed on the medical field, this book makes Bayes's Theory easy to understand and apply. Gigerenzer also makes a compelling argument to use frequencies instead of percentages. I am an Engineer and understand percentages quite well, but have not realised/considered that the majority of non-mathematically endowed people do not quite grasp percentages as well as I think they do.

Gigerenzer also shows how the presentation of the information can be used to makes something look worse/better than it actually is (relative vs absolute risk for instance). This will help me to sell studies to our review committees better. But it will also cause frustration when reading studies and seeing the lack of information to change relative risks into absolute risks.

I would have liked to see more examples outside of the medical field and perhaps less emphasis on the dialogues "he said/she said" examples. Other than that, this has been a good read and is recommended for anyone interested in risk management and analysis.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Do we really understand what we read? The book makes you think, not just accept written facts. I recommend this book to everyone, specially MD and other workers in healthcare. It might help you to communicate with your patients and their relatives in more efficient way.
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