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Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities Paperback – April 28, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Early chapters are a primer on casino games. In less than an hour, you can read up on how the major casino games are played, how to calculate your odds of winning in many common situations - and how much you will lose on every play on average if you play for any length of time. Rosenthal emphasizes this last proviso. He shows how EVERY casino game is stacked against the players and will whittle away your stake to nothing in the long run. But some games offer better odds and will deplete you less rapidly than other games.
Then Rosenthal moves on to tell you how to win at the game of life - or more precisely, how not to be caught up in the frequent illogic and hysteria that is generated by headline news and TV shows. He gives a better perspective on what kinds of dangers you are likely to actually face - and they are not terrorists or SARS or street crime.
A few more mathematically challenging topics are addressed - such as the Monty Hall dilemma, and how trends are spotted using linear regression lines. Rosenthal makes the calculation of p-values (used to determine how often a result will happen just by chance) almost comprehensible.
Some of his suggestions about using utility theory when we have to reach a decision may be of questionable value. Probably many of us have tried to make decisions "rationally" by using some formula that involves assigning some level-of-desirability number to each of our options, then considering how likely it is that the benefits of that option will actually materialize.Read more ›
"Lightning" is a good start. It does not read like a textbook. It presents the ideas behind probability using object lessons and examples that even the dullest layman can relate to. It introduces the concepts first, using concrete examples such as lottery winnings and crime statistics, and then presents the abstract principle behind the concepts, and attaches the proper technical labels to the concepts and the principle.
The author introduces the reader early to the idea of a "Probability Perspective," a new way to look at the world through eyes that understand probability. The author returns constantly to this theme of the Probability Perspective, with the expectation that by the end of the book the reader will understand what is meant by the term, and will have claimed such a perspective as his own.
Some of the chapters can be read independently, and some build on previous chapters. It's most useful to read the book from cover to cover. The final chapter is a carefully disguised "final exam," at the end of which the readers can decide for themselves whether they have acquired a Probability Perspective.
The language of the book is appropriate for a high school senior or a college student, and is easily readable by an adult.
The only problem with the book is not the book itself, but the subject.Read more ›
I think the reason why I got a lot of this book and enjoyed it so much is because the author related probability to real life situations. Throughout the chapters, the author will present a true story that relates to probability and the topic he is discussing in the chapter. For example, the chapter "Dealing the Cards", the author tells the story of two people arguing about whether the card game bridge was all luck or not. These stories help the reader get through a topic that can be difficult for others to understand.
Another reason why this book captured my attention was because of the variety of topics this book talked about. I found a lot of these topics to be interesting and fun to think about how probability can be a part of your everyday life. Some examples of chapters in this book deal with themes and topics such as randomness, playing cards, genes, making decisions, and voting for politicians. If you are interested in how probability relates to any of these topics, this book would be a good start in learning something about it.
This book also includes a "Final Exam" chapter at the end of the book so you can test yourself on the information that is given to you in the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Struck by Lightning Jeffrey Rosenthal
Rosenthal is a professor of statistics at the University of Toronto, and has technique that is pleasantly conversational, not... Read more
Professor Rosenthal brings to life the mathematics of probability without boring the lay reader with incomprehensible jargon. Interesting and accessible. Enjoyed all of it.Published on November 4, 2013 by Insync
This book is awkwardly perched between being introductory material, overview of applications, & comic relief. Read morePublished on April 29, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Probability is one of those areas of knowledge over which I would like to ultimately get a handle. I've read a number of books that seek to make this sometimes difficult subject... Read morePublished on February 14, 2011 by bronx book nerd
This book uses statistics to demonstrate that "truths" that we often site just are not proven when we look at the numbers. A good readPublished on January 9, 2010 by Ian Robson
Jeffrey Rosenthal's book 'Struck by Lightning' provides a fun introduction to statistical concepts without the need for higher math. Read morePublished on June 26, 2009 by C. Muser
Honestly, if there was a .5 rating system I would give this book 3.5/5 stars. The author delivers a great basic look at statistics and I will admit I took away information from it... Read morePublished on December 28, 2008 by Geoff Howard