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How Not To Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life, by Jordan Ellenberg, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 480 pages
The appealing title of Jordan Ellenberg’s book is no empty offer. “The problems we think about every day”, he argues, “are shot through with mathematics.” He goes on to show, completely convincingly, how its principles can give us a more clear-eyed view of everything from elections and the stock market to newspaper headlines and healthcare.
There are plenty of popular maths books around, but this one strikes a particularly fine balance between rigour and accessibility. There are complex ideas here, but Ellenberg has a gift for finding real-life examples of Survivorship Bias, the Laffer curve and many other terms that might otherwise instil a sense of terror.
Ellenberg is a maths professor, a columnist for Slate and has a novel to his name. His easy style is lucid and witty. If only all maths lessons were like this.
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