How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical ThinkingThe Freakonomics of math—a mathworld superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it. Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer? How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hardwon insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of nonEuclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God. Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomicpowered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how. 
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LibraryThing Review
User Review  smallself  www.librarything.comIt’s basically the history and philosophy of math, similar to a biography of Bach that isn’t exactly music theory, but is still, you know, tangentially related. I say this because I don’t know much ... Read full review
LibraryThing Review
User Review  aevaughn  LibraryThingThis book is extremely wellwritten and covers a diverse set of material related to applied mathematics (statistics particularly). However, it covers many disparate topics, and the only string I ... Read full review
Contents
1  
19  
Two STRAIGHT LOCALLY CURVED GLOBALLY  31 
Three EVERYONE IS OBESE  50 
Four HOW MUCH IS THAT IN DEAD AMERICANS2  62 
Five MORE PIE THAN PLATE  77 
PART II  87 
Seven DEAD FISH DONT READ MINDS  102 
Twelve MISS MORE PLANES  233 
Thirteen WHERE THE TRAIN TRACKS MEET  255 
PART IV  293 
Fifteen GALTONS ELLIPSE  311 
Sixteen DOES LUNG CANCER MAKE  347 
Existence  363 
Eighteen OUT OF NOTHING I HAVE CREATED  393 
HOW TO BE RIGHT  421 
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