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The Improbability Principle

Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day

David J. Hand; Read by Paul Hodgson

Macmillan Audio

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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THE MYSTERY
Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.
 —William Shakespeare
Simply Unbelievable
In the summer of 1972, the actor Anthony Hopkins was signed to play a leading role in a film based on George Feifer’s novel The Girl from Petrovka, so he traveled to London to buy a copy of the book. Unfortunately, none of the main London bookstores had a copy. Then, on his way home, waiting for an underground train at Leicester Square tube station, he saw a discarded book lying on the seat next to him. It was a copy of The Girl from Pet
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Praise for The Improbability Principle

In the Press

‘The Improbability Principle:Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day’ by David J. Hand - The Washington Post
David J. Hand asks why we tend to underestimate high probabilities and overestimate low ones
- The Washington Post

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • David J. Hand; Read by Paul Hodgson

  • David J. Hand is an emeritus professor of mathematics and a senior research investigator at Imperial College London. He is the former president of the Royal Statistical Society and the chief scientific adviser to Winton Capital Management, one of Europe’s most successful algorithmic-trading hedge funds. He is the author of seven books, including The Information Generation: How Data Rules Our World and Statistics: A Very Short Introduction, and has published more than three hundred scientific papers. Hand lives in London, England.
  • David J. Hand © Matthew Ford
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Improbability Principle

Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day

David J. Hand; Read by Paul Hodgson

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Macmillan Audio

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