The Improbability Principle

  • by David J. Hand
  • Narrated by Paul Hodgson
  • 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In The Improbability Principle, the renowned statistician David J. Hand argues that extraordinarily rare events are anything but. In fact, they’re commonplace. Not only that, we should all expect to experience a miracle roughly once every month.
But Hand is no believer in superstitions, prophecies, or the paranormal. His definition of "miracle" is thoroughly rational. No mystical or supernatural explanation is necessary to understand why someone is lucky enough to win the lottery twice, or is destined to be hit by lightning three times and still survive. All we need, Hand argues, is a firm grounding in a powerful set of laws: The laws of inevitability, of truly large numbers, of selection, of the probability lever, and of near enough.
Together, these constitute Hand’s groundbreaking Improbability Principle. And together, they explain why we should not be so surprised to bump into a friend in a foreign country, or to come across the same unfamiliar word four times in one day. Hand wrestles with seemingly less explicable questions as well: What the Bible and Shakespeare have in common, why financial crashes are par for the course, and why lightning does strike the same place (and the same person) twice. Along the way, he teaches us how to use the Improbability Principle in our own lives - including how to cash in at a casino and how to recognize when a medicine is truly effective.
An irresistible adventure into the laws behind "chance" moments and a trusty guide for understanding the world and universe we live in, The Improbability Principle will transform how you think about serendipity and luck, whether it’s in the world of business and finance or you’re merely sitting in your backyard, tossing a ball into the air and wondering where it will land.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Really interesting and fun

This is an exciting book and a wonderful listen. There is a history of how people think about probability. The oldest known records are tables of outcomes in an ancient gambling game. You will love this book if you like being challenged and finding out why things are the way they are in science, math and the human mind. I didn't want it to end. I now have much more insight into probability than I did before. I definitely recommend this book. You will love it! The narration is excellent. This book is exciting and fun, I highly recommend it, especially if you like math, science, and psychology and want to know the reasons why things are the way they are in the universe. The author explains why miracles absolutely DO happen. Listen to find out why.
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- J. C. "I live in Thailand, and love to listen to audible."

Debunking superstitions

What did you love best about The Improbability Principle?

Difficult mathematics of probability theory explained clearly in non-mathematical language.


What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The different laws of improbability are explained convincingly that the impossible is plausible.


Have you listened to any of Paul Hodgson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, not before. Paul's narrative is excellent, spoken with clarity and enthusiasm.


If you could give The Improbability Principle a new subtitle, what would it be?

Not that impossible


Any additional comments?

Better to listen to a chapter or two each time and not in its entirety (if you have that much of time). Needs reflection and slow digestion.

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- Yeoh Cheeweng

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-11-2014
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio