• Title: Beating Murphy's Law
  • Author: Bob Berger
  • Released: 1994-09-01
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 221
  • ISBN: 0385313179
  • ISBN13: 978-0385313179
  • ASIN: 0385313179
From Library Journal Writing in a breezy pseudo-anecdotal style, Berger, a contributor to Omni magazine, introduces the reader to the science of risk analysis. Using virtually no mathematics, he tells us what the statistics show are the risks to life and limb that we encounter in our everyday lives. By comparing apparently disparate activities (for example, living next to a nuclear power plant vs. eating peanut butter sandwiches), he shows us how "common sense" and preconceived notions can lead us to quite irrational evaluations. He also explains what is meant statistically by a statement like, "Doing x will take y years off your life." This book can be easily read and understood by a general reader, but whether it will change anyone's behavior is questionable. For popular science collections.
Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Among recent volumes intended to help readers interpret statistics about life's routine risks, this one is notably accessible and entertaining. Berger, a "risk communicator" whose articles have appeared in Esquire, Omni, and the New York Times, weaves probability and game theory, two-by-two matrices and sample bias, and the calculation of odds and of lost life expectancy around the tale of his courtship of a woman he meets at a New York City bus stop. Sarah, a graphic designer with a five-year-old daughter, is a very patient woman; she tolerates the intrusion of risk analysis into all aspects of her life, from smoking and STDs to whether she should agree to work overtime for nothing and the best form of pension for her aging parents. Some recent works on risk science have had a pro-business, anti-environmental, anti-litigation agenda; Berger is more evenhanded, clarifying the logical and mathematical bases for the common risk assessment techniques and urging readers to evaluate the risk estimates they are given more critically. Ignorance about risk science has been a major component of our national "innumeracy"; Beating Murphy's Law offers a relatively painless and enlightening corrective. Mary Carroll

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