mccormick


bookshelf

How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg

I believe I first heard about this book from Bill Gates, who listed How Not to Be Wrong on his summer 2016 book list. I have always found Gates to be an incredibly interesting and smart man. He has a bunch of very interesting books on his lists, some I have read and many on my to-read list. I chose this book for two reasons: one, I love the subtitle The Power of Mathematical Thinking and two, I have recently started to appreciate the world of mathematics and statistics.

The common misconception is that the math we learn in school is useless and it is taught to teenagers to simply torture them. Math can be difficult but it can be extremely interesting. There are numerous resources today on the internet that display the marriage between reality and math, but this book gives its readers a deep dive into the treasures of mathematics.

This book is incredible. Every chapter is better than the last. From how to keep planes from being shot down to winning democratic elections, this book covers it all. The only area I didn’t find particularly interesting was the pages on the lottery. Obviously, this is an easy way to discuss probability but to sum it all up concisely: you have a very small chance to win the lottery though there are ways to increase your chances from never to almost never.

You do not have to love math or statistics or science to like this book. You would probably enjoy this book more is you hate math. The author is incredibly smart but importantly, he is a great communicator.