- Popular Science
The revealing and tremendously entertaining look at how luck really works.
The world is filled with curious facts: intelligent women tend to marry men who are less intelligent. Students who get the highest scores in year-three generally get lower scores in year-four. Pilot trainees praised for good performance achieve worse results in their next exercise, but trainees who are shouted at for doing poorly perform better later on. But it would be wrong for us to assume that smart women are more attracted to unintelligent men or that schools are failing their students, or that shouting is the best way to get results.
There is one unifying reason for each of these curious cases: a concept called ‘regression to the mean’ which explains how we can easily be misled by random chance in our daily lives. Luck can wreak all kinds of mischief in sports, business, education, politics, and everywhere in between so that we attach meaning to the meaningless, making questionable decisions that leave us wondering: what went wrong?
In What the Luck? statistician Gary Smith and author of Standard Deviations (The Times Book of the Week) explains how an understanding of luck can not only change the way we see the world but how we can make better choices by using the realm of probability to our advantage.
'Another delightful addition to the stuff-you-think-you- know-that’s-wrong genre, á la Freakonomics, Outliers, and The Black Swan’ Kirkus, starred review
‘In clear, entertaining prose and the use of telling, useful, and even charming examples, Smith dissects one of the most fundamental principles of how the world works―and how our intuitions often fail to catch on. Anyone who wants to think more clearly and act more rationally will profit from reading this book’ Tom Gilovich, author of How We Know What Isn't So
‘Gary Smith's What the Luck alerts us to many subtle and unappreciated consequences of one of life's great truths: it has its ups and downs’ George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics 2001
‘Read this book. Then give it to your family and friends. There is no other single idea that will better improve your understanding of the world, and judgement of the future… Smith shows us how others have gotten it wrong and how you can get it right’ Cade Massey, Professor, Wharton School of Business
‘Gary Smith has another winner! His ability to combine entertaining writing with meaningful analysis should put him at the top of every thinking person's reading list’ Woody Studenmund, Laurence de Rycke Professor of Economics, Occidental College
‘What The Luck? is a tremendously entertaining and revealing read. A quick and engrossing piece of work, it is a must read for those who approach the world with educated insight! Two thumbs up!’ Simeon Nestorov, CFA, Managing Director, Berkeley Square Inc.
‘What The Luck? is eminently readable and entertaining, filled with colorful examples’ Sebastian Thomas, Director, Head of US Technology Research, Allianz Global Investors
‘This nuanced understanding will help readers make better decisions in all realms of their lives’ Jonathan Abelson, MD, radiation oncologist
‘Alerts us to many subtle and unappreciated consequences of one of life’s great truths: it has its ups and downs’ George Akerlof, Georgetown University, Nobel Laureate in Economics
‘You will not look at the world the same after reading this illuminating book’ Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, columnist for Scientific American, and author of Why People Believe Weird Things