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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jordan Ellenberg Narrator: Jordan Ellenberg Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2014 ISBN: 9780698162280
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In How Not to Be Wrong, a math-world 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 is not 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 hard-won 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 replication crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean 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 atomic-powered 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “In this wry, accessible, and entertaining exploration of everyday math, Ellenberg, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, shows readers how ‘knowing mathematics is like wearing a pair of X-ray specs’ that reveal the hidden structure of the world…From discussing the difference between correlation and causation, to how companies use big data to predict your interests and preferences, Ellenberg finds the common-sense math at work in the everyday world, and his vivid examples and clear descriptions show how ‘math is woven into the way we reason.’”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Great storytelling and an appealing, perky performance by author-narrator Ellenberg make this an enormously engaging audio…His performance conveys the type of measured enthusiasm that invites listeners into his world and seduces them into looking at math in a way they never have before. With convincing clarity, he shows how math is just an abstract way to talk about common-sense relationships…This production is remarkable for the compassionate way Ellenberg speaks to what we presume is a mathematically naïve audience.”


  • “Ellenberg writes with humor and verve as he repeatedly demonstrates that mathematics simply extends common sense…A bracing encounter with mathematics that matters.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Ellenberg’s math will leave readers informed, intrigued and armed with plenty of impressive conversation starters.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “With math as with anything else, there’s smart, and then there’s street smart. This book will help you be both. Fans of Freakonomics and The Signal and the Noise will love Ellenberg’s surprising stories, snappy writing, and brilliant lessons in numerical savvy. How Not to Be Wrong is sharp, funny, and right.”

    Steven Strogatz, Schurman professor of applied mathematics, Cornell University, and author, The Joy of x

  • “Through a powerful mathematical lens Jordan Ellenberg engagingly examines real-world issues ranging from the fetishizing of straight lines in the reporting of obesity to the game theory of missing flights, from the relevance to digestion of regression to the mean to the counter-intuitive Berkson’s paradox, which may explain why handsome men don’t seem to be as nice as not so handsome ones. The coverage is broad, but not shallow and the exposition is non-technical and sprightly.”

    John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

  • “Jordan Ellenberg promises to share ways of thinking that are both simple to grasp and profound in their implications, and he delivers in spades. These beautifully readable pages delight and enlighten in equal parts. Those who already love math will eat it up, and those who don’t yet know how lovable math is are in for a most pleasurable surprise."

    Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex

  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, June 2014
  • A New York Times Bestseller
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About the Author

Jordan Ellenberg is a professor of Mathematics at University of Wisconsin, and the “Do the Math” columnist at Slate. He has lectured around the world on his research in number theory, and delivered one of the plenary addresses at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest math conference in the world. His novel The Grasshopper King was shortlisted for the NYPL Young Lions Award, and he writes regularly for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post and Wired. A former two-time gold medalist at the International Mathematics Olympiad, Ellenberg learned algebra at the age of 8 and got a perfect score on his math portion of the SATs (as a 12 year old).