Chance, risk, uncertainty: they're all part of our lives, whether we're in business or on the school run, deciding future strategy or just the best route home. Sometimes their effects are intriguing: a streak of extraordinary luck, say, or some bizarre coincidence. More often they just leave us confused, unnerved - even anxious. When is a series of odd events mere happenstance, or something more significant? How do we make sense of the ever-changing evidence about what's good or bad for us? Just how reliable are predictions of weather, climate and elections - and how should we respond to them?
In this book, award-winning scientist and writer Robert Matthews shows how we can cut through such conundrums using some of the most potent intellectual tools ever developed: the laws of probability. Using real-life examples, he shows how to wield them to:
Understand and even predict coincidences
Tell when insurance policies are worth having
Make sense of medical tests and scientific 'breakthroughs'
Judge when "expert" evidence is compelling or questionable
Make decisions about everything from sports betting to weather forecasts
Professor Matthews also gives a groundbreaking introduction to the power of Bayes's Theorem, whose ability to turn evidence into insight is now transforming our lives - and helping to unmask a major scientific scandal.
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 431 g
Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 29 mm
It takes an extraordinary writer to animate this driest of subjects for a general audience. That writer is Matthews ... At a time when mathematics needs charismatic ambassadors more than ever, Matthews has written a book of great significance. -- Oliver Moody * Times *
Beguiling ... Matthews has the knack of explaining things clearly for the nonspecialist, leavening the formulae with intriguing snippets of history and biography ... his enthusiasm contributes to a lively and fascinating narrative. -- Ian Critchley * Sunday Times *
Praise for Why Don't Spiders Stick to Their Webs:
"Matthews gives us his wisdom like a beneficent and well-read uncle, entertaining his guests at the dinner table." -- Brian Clegg * Popular Science Books *
Praise for 25 Big Ideas:
"Robert Matthews has a gift for finding the simple, fascinating stories at the heart of concepts transforming the modern world" -- John Rennie, former Editor * Scientific American *