© 2008

Chance Rules

an informal guide to probability, risk and statistics


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XVI
  2. Brian Everitt
    Pages 1-11
  3. Brian Everitt
    Pages 25-38
  4. Brian Everitt
    Pages 39-46
  5. Brian Everitt
    Pages 77-85
  6. Brian Everitt
    Pages 105-119
  7. Brian Everitt
    Pages 121-134
  8. Brian Everitt
    Pages 135-153
  9. Brian Everitt
    Pages 155-168
  10. Brian Everitt
    Pages 169-181
  11. Brian Everitt
    Pages 183-197
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 199-209

About this book


Chance continues to govern our lives in the 21st Century. From the genes we inherit and the environment into which we are born, to the lottery ticket we buy at the local store, much of life is a gamble. In business, education, travel, health, and marriage, we take chances in the hope of obtaining something better. Chance colors our lives with uncertainty, and so it is important to examine it and try to understand about how it operates in a number of different circumstances. Such understanding becomes simpler if we take some time to learn a little about probability, since probability is the natural language of uncertainty.

This second edition of Chance Rules again recounts the story of chance through history and the various ways it impacts on our lives. Here you can read about the earliest gamblers who thought that the fall of the dice was controlled by the gods, as well as the modern geneticist and quantum theory researcher trying to integrate aspects of probability into their chosen speciality. Example included in the first addition such as the infamous Monty Hall problem, tossing coins, coincidences, horse racing, birthdays and babies remain, often with an expanded discussion, in this edition. Additional material in the second edition includes, a probabilistic explanation of why things were better when you were younger, consideration of whether you can use probability to prove the existence of God, how long you may have to wait to win the lottery, some court room dramas, predicting the future, and how evolution scores over creationism. Chance Rules lets you learn about probability without complex mathematics.

Brian Everitt is Professor Emeritus at King's College, London. He is the author of over 50 books on statistics. 


Chance Conditional probability Monty Hall problem RM chaos coincidences gambling paradoxes prediction probability risk

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Professor EmeritusKing's College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

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From the reviews of the second edition:

"This book takes its place in a long line of books on probability directed to nonmathematicians. … the author gives those readers interested in more details some simple mathematics in various places, with the comment that readers uneasy with mathematics can pass over these details without losing the main thrust, but encourages readers to make the effort. … readers who try to follow the mathematical details will probably find these to be helpful exercises." (Gerald A. Heuer, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1156, 2009)

“…When dealing with conditional probability…you may enjoy the delightful book by Professor Everitt! According to the Preface, ‘As in the first edition, I have tried to keep the mathematical details to the very minimum although a few formidable looking formulae do occasionally appear.’” (Simo Puntanen, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Tampere, Finland) “Brian Everitt’s second edition of Chance Rules continues to be a valuable guide for addressing issues of probability with audiences of non-statisticians. … Rich with history, concisely explaining in various parts of the book the history of probabilistic thinking, gambling, and the evolving role of statistics in medicine. This historical approach provides the context that makes this “not” a dry book. …uses engaging examples that will help build statistical literacy…” (The American Statistician, February 2010, Vol. 64, No. 1)

“Practitioners, students, professors. What should you do when somebody is telling you that there is a system that is capable of reliable and accurate prediction when it comes to stock market movements? Why were things better when I was young? What did Professor Everitt reply in his younger days, when women in parties used to ask what he did for living? … If the above topics make you curious, you may enjoy the delightful book by Professor Everitt!” (Simo Puntanen, International Statistical Review, Vol. 78 (1), 2010)

“The author does an excellent job of using examples from throughout history to illustrate concepts and make his point. … The author concludes the chapter on a philosophical note by contemplating how people have come to view the universe, life, and everything in it. … In summary, this book is entertaining as well as informative. I recommend it for statisticians and nonstatisticians … . There is enough history and examples abound to understand the various facets of chance in our everyday lives.” (Dean V. Neubauer, Technometrics, Vol. 51 (4), November, 2009)