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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Sydney Morning Herald
John Dupuis
David Leeming (pdf)

Jeffrey Rosenthal

Struck by Lightning

We live in an uncertain world, and an understanding of probability is vital to prevent us from being decieved by false claims of certainty. In Struck by Lightning:Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities , Jeffrey Rosenthal gives a gentle introduction to the subject to those untutored in the ins and outs of probability.

Rosenthal starts by looking at the coincidences we tend to see in our lives, showing they usually aren't as unlikely as they may seem. Elsewhere he discusses our assessment of risks, showing that they often aren't as bad as we may think. Probability is often associated with games of chance, and several chapters of the book to this topic, showing how casinos always win in the end. Rosenthal also discusses how to interpret statistical studies, and how to look out for possible bias. There are chapters on the perils of opinion polls, on randomness in biology and physics and on how probability is used in distinguishing genuine emails from spam. And of course there's a discussion of the infamous Monty Hall question.

Some books appeal both to the beginner and to those with more experience in a subject, but I'm not sure that this is one of them - I'm not convinced there's enough to hold the interest of those who already know something about probability theory. But if you don't and you want a light-hearted introduction to the subject then this is probably the book for you. info
Paperback 270 pages  
ISBN: 0309097347
Salesrank: 1045320
Published: 2006 Joseph Henry Press
Amazon price $20.09
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Paperback 288 pages  
ISBN: 186207996X
Salesrank: 709867
Weight:0.44 lbs
Published: 2008 Granta Books
Marketplace::Used from £0.01
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Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 0002007916
Salesrank: 159628
Weight:0.1 lbs
Published: 2005 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Amazon price CDN$ 30.00
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 20.45:Used from CDN$ 1.62
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Product Description

From terrorist attacks to big money jackpots, Struck by Lightning deconstructs the odds and oddities of chance, examining both the relevant and irreverent role of randomness in our everyday lives. Human beings have long been both fascinated and appalled by randomness. On the one hand, we love the thrill of a surprise party, the unpredictability of a budding romance, or the freedom of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. We are inexplicably delighted by strange coincidences and striking similarities. But we also hate uncertainty's dark side. From cancer to SARS, diseases strike with no apparent pattern. Terrorists attack, airplanes crash, bridges collapse, and we never know if we'll be that one in a million statistic. We are all constantly faced with situations and choices that involve randomness and uncertainty. A basic understanding of the rules of probability theory, applied to real-life circumstances, can help us to make sense of these situations, to avoid unnecessary fear, to seize the opportunities that randomness presents to us, and to actually enjoy the uncertainties we face. The reality is that when it comes to randomness, you can run, but you can't hide. So many aspects of our lives are governed by events that are simply not in our control. In this entertaining yet sophisticated look at the world of probabilities, author Jeffrey Rosenthal--an improbably talented math professor--explains the mechanics of randomness and teaches us how to develop an informed perspective on probability.