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How to Expect the Unexpected

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529408676

Price: £25

ON SALE: 6th July 2023

Genre: Mathematics / Mathematics & Science

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A Waterstones Best Popular Science Book of 2023

‘Delightfully clear and vivid to read…A splendid book! Philip Pullman

‘Absolutely fascinating’ James O’Brien

‘An exceptional book – readable, funny and more needed than ever’ Dr Chris van Tulleken, bestselling author of Ultra-Processed People

Are you more likely to become a professional footballer if your surname is Ball?
· How can you be one hundred per cent sure you will win a bet?
· Why did so many Pompeiians stay put while Mount Vesuvius was erupting?
· How do you prevent a nuclear war?

Ever since the dawn of human civilisation, we have been trying to make predictions about what’s in store for us. We do this on a personal level, so that we can get on with our lives efficiently (should I hang my laundry out to dry, or will it rain?). But we also have to predict on a much larger scale, often for the good of our broader society (how can we spot economic downturns or prevent terrorist attacks?).

For just as long, we have been getting it wrong. From religious oracles to weather forecasters, and from politicians to economists, we are subjected to poor predictions all the time. Our job is to separate the good from the bad. Unfortunately, the foibles of our own biology – the biases that ultimately make us human – can let us down when it comes to making rational inferences about the world around us. And that can have disastrous consequences.

How to Expect the Unexpected will teach you how and why predictions go wrong, help you to spot phony forecasts and give you a better chance of getting your own predictions correct.

What's Inside

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A vivid, wide-ranging and delightful guide to the light and the dark side of prediction
Tim Harford, bestselling author of How to Make the World Add Up
Kit Yates presents maths as it should be taught to everyone: accessible, fun, stimulating, and deeply relevant to our lives. Spend some time with this book and you're likely to make better judgements and decisions, to see through the charlatans and snake-oil salespeople - and perhaps even to fool yourself a little less.
Philip Ball, author of the award-winning Critical Mass
Fascinating and fun. From the everyday to global challenges, Kit Yates explores how changing your mind - so often thought to be a weakness - is the best life skill we can all acquire. A brilliant book
Professor Alice Roberts
Yates' writing is a beacon of clarity sorely needed in a complicated and confusing world. How do we overcome our biases, understand coincidences or tackle the unreliability of our intuition? With bountiful familiar examples, he effortlessly overturns so many of our deep-rooted wrong-headed notions gently and persuasively. I'll be quoting from this book
Jim Al-Khalili
I'm a Yates fan. His style is all-clarity-no-bullshit
Seriously good
Caroline Lucas MP
Absolutely fascinating
James O'Brien
An exceptional book - readable, funny and more needed than ever
Dr Chris van Tulleken, bestselling author of Ultra-Processed People
Yates' writing style imbues the subjects covered with an infectious enthusiasm, artfully dispelling the dry, stuffy perceptions many people have of maths
Physics World
HOW TO EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED is fascinating and (very much to the point) delightfully clear and vivid to read. Like many people, I like reading about maths without actually knowing how to do it, and part of the pleasure of reading this came from its many examples from everyday life. A splendid book!
Philip Pullman