Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidence
When seemingly unusual events transpire, someone is bound to ask, “What are the odds of that?” In Fluke by Joseph Mazur, the author answers that question with mathematical precision and the answer is, usually, better than you would think. Mazur lists several examples of seemingly random happenings such as finding random objects long missing, meeting people in unexpected places and times, even random dreams, as well as other odd coincidences. He constructs the chances, the odds, the variables that are not so random, and intelligently assigns numbers to the odds. Then he takes on the “infallibility of DNA” to show that it is easy enough to get a false conviction based solely on DNA evidence – arguing for a more realistic approach to solving crime. He tackles the question of strokes of genius and shows that hard work is much more responsible for invention. Finally, he looks at risk and how bankers and brokers try to manage loss. The book is written well, Mazur is a math professor who can make the math seem, if not simple, very understandable. He does demystify the mysterious but does it interestingly and with good humor. This book is for those who want to know the truth of things, not just the sensational suppositions.
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