The Big Monty Hall Book just got a favorable review in The Columbus Dispatch. The reviewer is Rob Hardy. He writes:

Indeed, some of the chapters here are full-power mathematics, with unknowns x, y and z, summation or conditional probability symbols, and complicated equations choked with parentheses within brackets, and more. Math phobics won’t get far with such stuff, but there is enough other material here, along with different explanations of the basic puzzle, that will be of interest to anyone who likes recreational mathematics in even the slightest degree.

I was really happy to read this, since I worried while writing the book that maybe I was including too much technical detail. On the one hand I wanted the book to be mathematically serious, but on the other I wanted it to be mostly readable to those uninterested in parsing the equations. It seems that, at least in this case, I struck the correct balance.

Hardy concludes with:

Best of all, for this reader anyway, it made the previously counterintuitive strategy of switching feel a little more sensible.

I nearly wept when I read that. Now go read the whole review! Better yet, go buy the book!! The folks at Oxford University Press tell me that in the just over a month since the book has been released, 1573 copies have been bought. Plainly the start of a cultural firestorm. Don’t be left out!

Comments

  1. #1 itchy
    July 8, 2009

    That’s gotta feel good. Congratulations, Jason!

  2. #2 Alan C
    July 8, 2009

    Jason, I just got my copy and can’t wait to read it (still wading through “Breaking the Maya Code”, a difficult read for me without the anthropological or linguistics background, but it’s also fascinating). Thanks for your efforts for our community of science enthusiasts and your interesting blog.

  3. #3 Susan B.
    July 9, 2009

    I bought it, shortly after I got into a big argument with some acquaintances over the Monty Hall Problem. The next time I saw them, I was able to read to them the section of your introduction where you describe the five stages of reaction to hearing the correct solution. It matched their reactions perfectly!

    I’m enjoying the book very much so far, even though I already understand the aspects of probability that have been covered. I have to admit that I find my eyes sliding past the equations, though; not because I don’t like the math, but because I need to work out the solutions myself rather than following someone else’s work.

  4. #4 Jud
    July 9, 2009

    It’ll be at least 1574 copies purchased once Oxford puts out a Kindle edition. Tell ‘em!

  5. #5 Jason Rosenhouse
    July 9, 2009

    Thanks for all the kind words. It was certainly a surprise to a see a review in The Columbus Dispatch.

    Several people have asked me about a Kindle edition, but I don’t know if there will be one.

  6. #6 eddie
    July 11, 2009

    I’ve only read one discussion of the MHP, I think in an Ian Stewart book, but it was a couple of years ago. I look forward to hearing your take on it.
    It struck me that the controversy over the outcomes of switching centre on those cases in which the contestant’s first choice is the car. In these cases the host has the choice of revealing one of two goats. And it is the statistician counting these two choices as one that distorts the result.
    Obviously it looks better to switch when you only count half of the situations where sticking would win. The truth table I did on paper bore this out. Of course, I’m a crank.

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