Friday, September 16, 2016


Fluke is by Joseph Mazur and it's boring. It starts off with an introduction musing about coincidences. Then, it tells ten disjointed stories about coincidences, which can't really have any impact because they are so short and unrelated, so that's boring. Then, he talks about math, and how everything happens eventually, the world is big, yadda yadda yadda. He hints at some cool concepts, and doesn't really go much in depth into them, and it's boring.

Then, he uses this mathematics of probability to give probabilities for the ten stories you read in the beginning. By this time, you've mostly forgotten the stories, but it doesn't matter because he just picks random numbers for the probabilities. And sometimes, he doesn't even do the math right! Like, analyzing the fourth story, he says a probability would be, "1/30 x 1/30 ≈ 0.001, or odds of 998 to 1." Yes, 1/30 x 1/30 = 1/900, which is about 0.001, but that makes the odds 899 to 1. HE FAILS TO FOLLOW THE RULES HE LITERALLY TELLS YOU ABOUT. So, in summary, that section is trash. Then, he has a few essays on probability, risk, and chance which are interesting. That is the only decent part of the book.

In conclusion, read Fluke only if you are very bored.

Friday, September 09, 2016


You, there! Have you ever seen a statistic used in the media? If so, then you have likely been the victim of proofiness. Proofiness is defined by mister Charles Seife as "the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true - even when it's not." Want to be free of this madness? Then I have just the thing for you! This book, Proofiness, is essentially a field guide to spotting said proofiness, and then to seeing through it.

The first two chapters are an introduction to the rest of the book, listing different types of proofiness and making silly words for them. If you'd like, you can see the silly words in my glossary. Chapters three through eight are then about examples of people using proofiness, mostly in the United States of America. Seife covers proofiness polls, elections, courts, and more.

Proofiness is a gripping book which will keep you interested through the whole ride. I mean, sometimes I chose to read this book instead of The Hike. That should tell you something about how compelling it is.

Seife is doing important work here, trying to help people make decisions which are not based on false numbers or bad arguments. He never gets very technical, and keeps it simple enough that anyone at all should be able to read it. If you feel that you should not be lied to, then you should read this book.

P.S. I got a lot of books in New York and I think I'm gonna review them all in order. Here's a sneak preview of the reviews to come!
Well, except for the ACT prep book. That's just sitting there.

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Hike

The Hike, by Drew Magary, is about a man who gets well and truly lost. The man in question is Ben, a thirty-eight year old with a wife and three kids and a house and an important business meeting to get to. Before he goes to the meeting, he decides to take a walk. The walk turn into a hike. The hike turns into a mad sprint for his life. Then he gets lost.

The hotel is gone, as is the road, and all traces of human civilization. The only thing left is a path, and, seeing no other options, Ben follows this path, in the hopes that it will take him somewhere eventually. Then, strange things start to happen, and they keep getting stranger. Only one thing is clear: If Ben goes off the path, then he will die. As long as he stays on the path, he - well, the point is he should stay on the path.

The Hike is a beautifully written page-turner with memorable characters and one of the best endings I've ever seen. Honestly, I think The Hike is my favorite book now. It's hard to find words to express this fully. There's just nothing about it that I don't like. It has a great little mystery and a few twists which not only genuinely caught me by surprise but also made me completely change the way I framed the whole thing. I love it so much.

If you like good books, then you should read this book.