The Drunkard’s Walk : How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
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Leonard Mlodinow in his book The Drunkard’s Walk is a fascinating attempt to explain how the particular path we follow in life is impacted by randomness on everyday human life and our reaction to it. He totally dispels what a fallacy the illusion of control we think we have over the particular path of success or failure we have. Stripping away a number of popular success theories that attribute success to individual effort, this book uses understandable mathematical theory to show how chance is a major determining factor in our success of failure. The book is strangely empowering as he has a hopeful take home message:
“Success is under our control only in the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized – for even a coin weighted towards failure will sometimes land on success”
Using anecdotes to strip away the Godlike genius attributed to the likes of Bill Gates, Stephen King (author), Bill Miller (successful equity fund manager) and many recognizable superstars, he shows the role chance events played in their success and also shows the likelihood of it happening.
The Drunkards Walk Summary:
Mlodinow explains success (or failure) in terms of the mathematical randomness of oppurtunities bestowed on individuals rather than just crediting personal attributes like genes or effort. In addition he shows that often the true probability of an event is not intuitive, yet we think they are and mistakenly base serious life decisions on them. In the Drunkard’s Walk, he shows that with the brains’ natural inclination to find patterns when there is really only pure random variation, and our eagerness to attribute outcomes to action rather than to chance makes us to think we have much more control than we really do. Although this is discouraging he equally urges us that with chance playing such a major role we need to act on every opportunity and he echoes the IBM pioneer Thomas Watson “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate”
Suggest that you read this book with Outliers to start to make sense of how trends happen.
“I just love books like this – especially when they’re as well-written as this one. The author, a physicist, proceeds to show the reader how randomness plays a much greater role in everyday life than one might think.” – G. Poirier (Orleans, ON, Canada)
“…All chapters are meant to lead up to the book’ final chapter (that has the same title as the book’s title)…” – Stephen Pletko “Uncle Stevie” (London, Ontario, Canada)
“…While the book might read well on a Kindle(tm), books on this topic should be on an iPad/web with hyperlinks. The irony of an exceptionally intelligent author writing about the limits of human action, using weak tools that he emasculates even further, doesn’t bring a smile to my face. ..” – Arthur Ashendorf “OrangeMath” (Newport Beach, CA USA)
“I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to better understand probability without opening up a math textbook. It might just change the way you think.” Trevor Burnham (Cambridge, MA)
“..not only did I love reading it, I feel like it has given me an opportunity to change much about my outlook on life, and only in good ways. …” – Theoden Humphrey “Dusty” (Oregon, US)