The Drunkard's Walk

  • by Leonard Mlodinow
  • Narrated by Sean Pratt
  • 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this irreverent and illuminating audiobook, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, chance, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious causes, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.The rise and fall of your favorite movie star or the most reviled CEO - in fact, all our destinies - reflects chance as much as planning and innate abilities. Even Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth's single season home-run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky.How could it have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars by one journal and called the worst wine of the decade by another? Wine ratings, school grades, political polls, and many other things in daily life are less reliable than we believe. By showing us the true nature of chance and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives fresh insight into what is really meaningful and how we can make decisions based on a deeper truth. From the classroom to the courtroom, from financial markets to supermarkets, from the doctor's office to the Oval Office, Mlodinow's insights will intrigue, awe, and inspire.Offering listeners not only a tour of randomness, chance and probability but also a new way of looking at the world, this original, unexpected journey reminds us that much in our lives is about as predictable as the steps of a stumbling man afresh from a night at a bar.

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What the Critics Say

"A wonderful guide to how the mathematical laws of randomness affect our lives." (Stephen Hawking)
"If you're strong enough to have some of your favorite assumptions challenged, please listen to The Drunkard's Walk....a history, explanation, and exaltation of probability theory....The results are mind-bending." (Fortune)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Odds are, you will enjoy this book

This is another book that discusses how randomness, or nonrandomness surrounds us and makes the case it might be in our best interest to know when certain events are random and when they are not.

The book discusses the use and basic principles of probabillity without getting into the mathematical details - although there are 1 or 2 sections where he explains things in some detail (with words, not equations). He also provides a bit of interesting background on the people that developed the concepts. I am a PhD scientist and found this background information delightful and felt it added something to the principles that were discovered.

There are some very interesting examples that he supplies...for instance, if you are told a family has 2 children and one of them is a girl, what are the odds that the other is a girl...this seems straight forward but what if you are told one of the girls is named 'Florida' -- does that change the odd? The answer is yes - but you need to read the book to find out why...Many other interesting examples and lessons were taught.
A good book for those who want to know when to attribute the good performance of a company to the CEO or if it's just chance...if you're team is losing, should you change managers? Which is the more effective teaching tool, the carrot or the stick? These any other questions are approached from the view of randomness.
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- Stephen

Interested in statistics? This is the book.

You’re presented with three doors. Behind one door is a car and behind the other two doors are goats. Sound familiar? It is. You pick door number one. Instead of opening your choice, Monty opens door number two and reveals a goat. He then asks you if you wish to keep what’s behind your original choice (door one) or change your mind to door number three. If you think it makes no difference whether you switch or not and that your odds are 50/50 either way, you might be surprised at the answer and enjoy reading this book. If you are surprised by the answer to this ridiculously simple challenge, you’re in for a plethora of awakenings about the assumptions we make of the numbers and statistics we hear in our daily lives.

Peppered with charm and wit; wonderfully read by Sean Pratt, I would highly recommend this title to anyone interested in a history of the development of statistics. Books about numbers are especially not easy ones to listen to but Sean Pratt reads this one at just the right pace and with just the right inflections to make listening to and learning from The Drunkard’s Walk totally accessible. I will often read two or three books at a time. This one, however, was just so captivating, it monopolized my complete attention. But then I’m a nerd and that too might be a requirement for truly enjoying this title.
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- Robert "Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-26-2008
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC