11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Well written traditional account of probability,
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This review is from: Chance Rules: An Informal Guide to Probability, Risk and Statistics (Hardcover)In the better half of the dozen or so popular science style books on probability that I have read and reviewed. The selection of topics (listed below) is very traditional and the author has chosen to cover many topics briefly rather than a few topics in depth; in other regards it has a middle of the road style. That is, in the middle of spectra (a) from gee-whiz enthusiasm to dry analysis; (b) from absolutely no mathematics to too much mathematics. What it says is almost everywhere clear and correct, though the book as a whole lacks individualistic style or focus. Indeed the only unique feature I noticed is that it mentions neither the normal curve nor power law distributions -- other books tend to overemphasize at least one of those topics. Like other books by academics (the most similar previous one being Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities) it implicitly focuses on topics related to traditional College freshman statistics courses rather than those arising from fashionable research (random models of social networks or the Internet, genetic algorithms, fractals ...) which tend to be emphasized in books written by professional science writers.
List of topics: brief history, rules for combining probabilities, combinations and permutations, the gambler's fallacy, waiting times for patterns in coin tossing, games (lottery, roulette, poker, blackjack) and sports (horse racing, football pools), Bayes rule illustrated by positive/negative medical diagnostics and by the O.J. Simpson and Sally Clark cases, paradoxes (2 boys, Monte Hall, surprise exam, St Petersburg), secretary problem, birthday coincidences and anecdotes about real-world coincidences, risk perception and influence of positive/negative presentation of risk/reward, randomization in clinical trials, and evidence regarding acupuncture and homeopathy, modeling illustrated by improving sports records and stock markets, and brief final mentions of chaos, quantum theory and random mutations as the driving force behind evolution.
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