Book Reports

How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenbery

I found this book to be unreadble. I noticed the introduction was painful for me to get through, so skipped ahead to the first part and read about 60 pages before I just had to put it down. One very annoying feature is his use of footnotes – there are way too many and they are very distracting. That and he quoted Lindsay Lohan, ironically of course but still.

Shame because I love this kind of writing (“popular” mathematics). A couple takeaway points before I had to give up:

  1. p. 8: “To a mathematician, the structure underlying the bullet hole problem is a phenomenon called surviorship bias. It arises again and again, in all kinds of contexts. And once you’re familiar with it, as Wald was, you’re primed to notice it whereever it’s hiding.” Were there other examples in the book of surviorship bias?
  2. p. 24: “Nonlinear thinking means which way you should go depends on where you already are.”
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