The Improbability Principle

Much to my surprise, it was quite a busy summer with a lot of time spent travelling between events. Everyone settling into the back-to-school routine has afforded me a little break and I’ve been catching up on my non-magical reading and there has been some really interesting stuff which I wanted to share.

 

That title probably seems wildly contradictory. How can improbable things happen every day?

One of the most important lessons you can learn is that when it comes to estimating probability, the human brain sucks. It sucks really bad. Of course it's not the brain's fault, it was designed that way. But it's a handicap we all have to get over so we can function in the world. Ever since Math for Data Management in Grade 12, I've known that the results that come out of probability calculations are deeply counterintuitive. It's not just that if you try to guess the answer you might get the wrong answer. It's worse: If you try to guess the right answer, cognitive biases will kick in and you'll be almost guaranteed to get the wrong answer. This book is, broadly speaking, the explanation why.

So books like this are an incredible resource. The content runs parallel to the themes in The Uncertainty Project (sadly the book contains no drag queen) and is extremely straightforward and easy to follow. If you want to know one of the most important ways the universe doesn't work the way you think it does, this is for you.