The Drunkard’s Walk Review

The Drunkard’s walk is a massively insightful book about… luck!

Think you are on a streak of extreme bad luck and failure even though you have the talent to be a star?  You could be right.

Put your successful life down to your immense ability and good looks? You could just have been in the right place at the right time.

History of Randomness

The Greeks did not believe in randomness and thought things worked according to the will of the Gods.

In fact the Greeks didn’t even have a number 0, it wasn’t until the 9th century that the concept of 0 was introduced by an Indian mathematician.

The Romans made some progress but it wasn’t until the 16th century that the first book on uncertainty was published, written by an Italian gambler!

It was at this time in Italy that the scientific revolution was taking place and there were other advancements in the study of chance for example Galileo’s work.

Pascal’s triangle, Pascal’s wager, Principia by Newton, the Bernoulli principle, Bayesian theory, the Laplace distribution and String theory have all helped advance our understanding of probability.

Randomness Rules

Our ability matters but so does randomness…

A stock speculator predicted the outcome of the US stock exchange for 12 years using nothing but the Superbowl to make his predictions…

Bruce Willis would not have got his breakthrough if he hadn’t gone to see his girlfriend in LA and chanced upon an audition for Moonlighting.

Bill Gates happened on a lucky series of events and went on to be the richest man in the world.

An average type of baseball player called Merris beat Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961.

Understanding Randomness

First impressions count big time!

All of our perceptions are based on the initial information we receive about something and we don’t even realise we are doing it. This shortcut means we are prone to making mistakes and not looking at information objectively.

Many famous authors and moviemakers like George Lucas, JK Rowling and John Grisham had their work rejected countless times before they got a breakthrough.

If a sequence is long enough we will observe many unusual sequences. A sequence of good luck can be viewed as being influenced by skill, a phenomenon called the hot hand fallacy.

Derren Brown uses this principle in The System

A lack of control leads to anxiety so there is a fundamental clash between human nature and the true nature of things.

Conclusions

Do you think rich and successful people are the most gifted and hardest working? They may just have had all the lucky breaks. And take it easy on the beggar in the street, he might have had a serious streak of bad luck that could have happened to anyone.

In your own life remember that the more times you roll the dice the more chance you have of making it – so don’t give up and try lots of things!

Spend more time reflecting on the possibility that you might be wrong about something instead of presuming you are right…

If you really want to get into the spirit of things read Dice Man by Luke Rheinhart and get rolling that dice 😉

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