The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I’ve read this book right after I’ve read “Bad Science”, which is funny, since the two books seem to cross paths in more than one way…
In the first few chapters it sometimes seems that this book is a kind of an american version of Bad Science, and even more than a few anecdotes are given in both books, regarding our readiness to accept patterns where there are none.
Mlodinow’s conclusions, however, are quite different, and they are presented in a way that will make Goldacre scream “bad science!”.
Mlodinow concludes that our reliance on ability and talent is overrated! It seems that his world view is the same as Goofie’s regarding your chances to win the lottery: “50/50 – either you win it – or you don’t!”.
To promote his conclusion, he uses some ‘bad science’ tricks, like cherry-picking and misrepresenting study results… He confuses Bruce Willis’s chance discovery with his success; Bill Gates’s deal with IBM regarding DOS according to Mlodinow, is the only reason he became the ‘richest man in the world’; etc.
Are you an aspiring writer, with an unpublishable manuscript? Don’t perfect your writing skills, don’t improve and edit your manuscript, don’t even consider maybe it is not true vocation – simply push it again!
Mlodinow repeatedly (and justifiably) denounces the deterministic worldview, which suggest that we have no control over our future, since it is already set, but replaces it with a worldview which essentially leads to the same conclusion – we have no control over our future, since it is all random!
This worldview, in my opinion, promotes mediocreness, and give the less talented a simple resolution to their lack of success (I was unlucky), instead of driving them to introspect their decisions and actions to better themselves.
As a famous golfer once said: “Golf is a game of luck. The more I train, the more lucky I am playing it”.