Wednesday, December 28, 2016

David J. Hand - The Improbability Principle (Scientific American, 2015) ***

David Hand is a professor of mathematics at Imperial College in London. In "The Improbability Principle", he gives a very readable overview of things that on the surface look like improbabilities, yet for a variety of reasons are fully to be expected.

He guides us through the Law of Inevitability, the Law of Truly Large Numbers, the Law of Selection, the Law of the Probability Lever, the Law of Near Enough, all laws that are active on a daily basis and may at times give the impression that miracles occur, when only the statistics of chance play their game.

At the same time he fiercely attacks quacks and paranormal entertainers for deceiving people. He accuses our education for not helping us understand everyday fallacies better than we do.

And that's why I would recommend this book to anybody with an educational role: it is easy to read, yet filled with examples that at first sight look totally impossible, yet when you listen to Hand's explanation, become totally understandable, like a magician explaining his tricks.

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