Discover how maths can explain and predict the vagaries of chance.
Imagine this: you are browsing used books in a bookstore hundreds of miles from home when you come across a copy of Moby Dick, which you remember reading as a child. You open it and find your own name on the inside cover.
What are the chances? This is the question we ask ourselves upon encountering seemingly impossible coincidences, like the woman who won the lottery four times. But from clairvoyants to financial markets, and from unique scientific discoveries to DNA evidence, if there is any likelihood that something could happen, no matter how small, it is bound to happen to someone at some time.
Coupling lively anecdotes with the principles of probability, Joseph Mazur balances the fun of a great coincidence with the logical thinking of a mathematician. With a lightness of touch and a witty turn of phrase, Mazur sweeps aside pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, proving that there are rational explanations for even the most extraordinary events.
About the Author
Joseph Mazur is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Marlboro College in Vermont. He is the author of four popular mathematics books, including Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math which was number four on The Guardian's Top 10 Popular Mathematics Books of All Time
`Delightfully written.' * E&T Magazine *
'[An] entirely delightful slice of popular science...I'm no mathematician, and I was both fascinated and enchanted'. -- Alison Flood * Bookseller *
`Mazur uses probability to strip chance events of some of their mystery.' * Guardian *
`Always entertaining and frequently insightful, Fluke is never less than thought-provoking.' * Amir Alexander, Wall Street Journal *
`With charm and clarity, Joe Mazur leads us through the strange terrain of chance and surprise... A terrific read, and a welcome antidote to superstition and gullibility.' -- Ian Stewart, author of Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers
`The chances are very slim that you'd ever read this blurb. A simple-minded calculation puts the odds at about 50,000 to one against. Yet... here you are. How weird is this seemingly far-fetched coincidence? Well, dear reader, you've picked up the right book to answer that question.' -- Charles Seife, author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
`Joe Mazur's Fluke walks the reader, hand in steady hand, through the weird and dangerous landscape of extreme probability, distinguishing cause from correlate, and phenomenon from mere coincidence.' -- Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
`An exciting addition to the ranks of books exploring the mysteries of chance and coincidence in the vein of The Black Swan and The Improbability Principle.' -- David J. Hand, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College London and author of The Improbability Principle