How Not to be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life

Author(s): Jordan Ellenberg

Science & Natural History

The maths we learn in school often seems like a mysterious and impenetrable set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, acclaimed mathematician Jordan Ellenberg shows us just how wrong this view is- in fact, maths touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. It's a science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument.

Through supremely witty storytelling and wry insight, Ellenberg reveals the mathematician's method of analyzing life, from the commonplace to the cosmic, showing us which numbers to trust, which ones to ignore, and when to change the equation entirely.

How early should you get to the airport? Why do tall parents have shorter children? What's the best way to get rich playing the lottery? How should you choose a mutual fund? And does Facebook know you're a terrorist? How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind these and many more questions, using the mathematician's hard-won insights - minus the jargon.

As Ellenberg shows us, maths doesn't just teach us how not to be duped; it makes us better thinkers. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we gain access to insights inaccessible by other means. How Not to Be Wrongshows us how.


'The title of this wonderful book explains what it adds to the honourable genre of popular writing on mathematics. Like Lewis Carroll, George Gamow, and Martin Gardner before him, Jordan Ellenberg shows how mathematics can delight and stimulate the mind. But he also shows that mathematical thinking should be in the toolkit of every thoughtful person - of everyone who wants to avoid fallacies, superstitions, and other ways of being wrong.' Steven Pinker, Author of How the Mind Works


'If you feel bamboozled by figures, you can think like a mathematician without actually being one. An engaging and clear explanation of some of the tricks of the trade, and how they help you spot errors of numerical reasoning in politics, religion, and finance. A gripping read!' Ian Stewart, Author of Seventeen Equations That Changed the World


'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 most pleasurable surprise.' Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Author of Plato at the Googleplex


'Jordan Ellenberg is a top mathematician and a wonderful expositor, and the theme of his book is important and timely. How Not to Be Wrongis destined to be a classic.' Timothy Gowers


'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 Signaland the Noise will love Ellenberg's surprising stories, snappy writing, and brilliant lessons in numerical savvy. How Not to Be Wrongis sharp, funny, and right.' Steven Strogatz, Author of The Joy of X

$24.99(AUD)

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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780718196042
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : May 2015
  • : 198mm X 129mm X 21mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : July 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 480
  • : 815
  • : Paperback
  • : Jordan Ellenberg