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The Drunkard's Walk

How Randomness Rules Our Lives

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eBook published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
In this irreverent and illuminating audio book, 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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In this irreverent and illuminating audio book, 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.
Product Details
eBook (352 pages)
Published: May 13, 2008
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307377548
Other books byLeonard Mlodinow
  • The Grand Design

    The Grand Design
    THE FIRST MAJOR WORK IN NEARLY A DECADE BY ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREAT THINKERS—A MARVELOUSLY CONCISE BOOK WITH NEW ANSWERS TO THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS OF LIFE   When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation? The most fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, now occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet—if only to disagree. In their new book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by both brilliance and simplicity. In The Grand Design they explain that according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. When applied to the universe as a whole, this idea calls into question the very notion of cause and effect. But the “top-down” approach to cosmology that Hawking and Mlodinow describe would say that the fact that the past takes no definite form means that we create history by observing it, rather than that history creates us. The authors further explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe, and show how quantum theory predicts the “multiverse”—the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. Along the way Hawking and Mlodinow question the conventional concept of reality, posing a “model-dependent” theory of reality as the best we can hope to find. And they conclude with a riveting assessment of M-theory, an explanation of the laws governing us and our universe that is currently the only viable candidate for a complete “theory of everything.” If confirmed, they write, it will be the unified theory that Einstein was looking for, and the ultimate triumph of human reason. A succinct, startling, and lavishly illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening some of our most cherished belief systems, The Grand Design is a book that will inform—and provoke—like no other. From the Hardcover edition.

    Feynman's Rainbow

    Feynman's Rainbow
    A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life
    Some of the brightest minds in science have passed through the halls of the California Institute of Technology. In the early 1980s, Leonard Mlodinow joined their ranks to begin a postdoctoral fellowship. Afraid he was not smart enough to be there, despite his groundbreaking Ph.D. thesis, he took his insecurities to Richard Feynman, Caltech’s intimidating resident genius and iconoclast. So began a pivotal year in a young man’s life. Though a series of fascinating exchanges, Mlodinow and Feynman delve into the nature of science, creativity, love mathematics, happiness, God, art, pleasures and ambition, producing a moving portrait of a friendship and an affecting account of Feynman’s final creative years.

    A Briefer History of Time

    A Briefer History of Time
    #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHORS The science classic made more accessible • More concise • Illustrated FROM ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MINDS OF OUR TIME COMES A BOOK THAT CLARIFIES HIS MOST IMPORTANT IDEAS   Stephen Hawking’s worldwide bestseller A Brief History of Time remains a landmark volume in scientific writing. But for years readers have asked for a more accessible formulation of its key concepts—the nature of space and time, the role of God in creation, and the history and future of the universe. A Briefer History of Time is Professor Hawking’s response. Although “briefer,” this book is much more than a mere explanation of Hawking’s earlier work. A Briefer History of Time both clarifies and expands on the great subjects of the original, and records the latest developments in the field—from string theory to the search for a unified theory of all the forces of physics. Thirty-seven full-color illustrations enhance the text and make A Briefer History of Time an exhilarating and must-have addition in its own right to the great literature of science and ideas.

    War of the Worldviews

    War of the Worldviews
    Where Science and Spirituality Meet -- and Do Not
    Two bestselling authors first met in a televised Caltech debate on “the future of God,” one an articulate advocate for spirituality, the other a prominent physicist.  This remarkable book is the product of that serendipitous encounter and the contentious—but respectful—clash of worldviews that grew along with their friendship.  In War of the Worldviews these two great thinkers battle over the cosmos, evolution and life, the human brain, and God, probing the fundamental questions that define the human experience. How did the universe emerge?  What is the nature of time?  What is life? Did Darwin go wrong?  What makes us human? What is the connection between mind and brain?  Is God an illusion?   This extraordinary book will fascinate millions of readers of science and spirituality alike, as well as anyone who has ever asked themselves, What does it mean that I am alive? From the Hardcover edition.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • A few years ago, a man won the Spanish national lottery with a ticket that ended in the number 48.

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  • If psychics really existed, you'd see them in places like [Monte Carlo], hooting and dancing and pushing wheelbarrows of money down the street, and not on Web sites calling themselves...

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  • Most of all it has taught me to appreciate the absence of bad luck, the absence of events that might have brought us down, and the absence of the disease, war, famine, and accident that...

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