Seriously! Go have a look.

It seems my book The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brainteaser made the list! And to think I wasn’t planning to do a blog post today.

Browsing through the other entries, it looks like my reading list just got a bit longer. (Of course, they will have to get in line behind Stephen King’s forthcoming magnum opus, coming out on Tuesday. But that’s a different post…)


  1. #1 heddle
    November 6, 2009


  2. #2 Rev. Dr. Stephens Hawkings 386sx III½ Jr., Esq.
    November 6, 2009


  3. #3 Josh Slocum
    November 6, 2009

    Congratulations, Jason!

    I want to read your book, but I’m feeling embarrassed at my mathematical deficiency. I’m a smart, educated layman, but my phobia about math caused me to get the least possible out of my math classes while in public school (and yes, I’ve been thinking about rectifying this). I’m not naturally gifted in mathematical thinking, but I’m willing to work when I read. Do you think I sound like the kind of person who could tackle your book?

  4. #4 NewEnglandBob
    November 6, 2009

    Congratulations Jason.

    I just whittled my “books to buy” list down from 20 to 13 by ordering books just the other day and here I am adding another. I guess 14 is a better number?

    It never ends….

    Thank dog!

  5. #5 rich lawler
    November 6, 2009

    Well done!!

  6. #6 BathTub
    November 6, 2009

    Yeah I saw that and came over to congratulate.


  7. #7 Brian English
    November 7, 2009

    Well done man. Why are some of the top books not science books but biographies or such? Weird. I want meat on them bones.

    Josh Slocum, I sucked at math (still) and dropped out of a Geology course (aligned with Enginering) that required first year engineering math (calculus). I failed it dismally (two years in a row) so quit even though I was doing quite well in the geology subjects.

    On the plus side, almost 20 years later I finished off a psych. degree with 2 math subjects: discrete mathematics and mathematical modelling (calculus); I got 96% in the former and 97% in the later. It can be done. I’m not smart, it just seems to be about how much you want it and how much time you can put into it. Oh, and studying past exams is very useful. They never change much so help studying for exams that are the bulk of a subjects mark. 🙂

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    November 7, 2009

    Josh Slocum:

    Go for it! Jason’s book is pretty self-contained; it uses the Monty Hall Problem to teach probability, rather than assuming the reader already knows all about probability and then expecting them to apply that knowledge. As far as prerequisites go, I recall that at one point, the book expects you to know that the logarithm of a product is the sum of the logarithms of the factors (log ab = log a + log b). Also, one part invokes the binomial coefficients (the first few paragraphs of this article cover what you’d need to know, I think). It might be helpful to read the book with a notebook at hand and work through the algebra as you go.

  9. #9 Sigmund
    November 7, 2009

    Well done Jason.
    Like Josh I was never at the top level in mathematics in high school. I think they say that 40% of biologists are good at maths. I think I’m in the other 70%!
    That said I do want to learn some and I have been intrigued by your occasional blog post on the Monty Hall subject.
    Is it available in the UK yet ?(I don’t live there but that’s where I source my online english language purchases)

  10. #10 Miles Rind
    November 7, 2009

    Congratulations, Jason. I have not yet read The Monty Hall Problem, but it is definitely on my (very long) list of books that I want to read — if only to learn how you deal with people who maintain with perfect confidence that the correct solution is wrong.

    On an internet message board, I once thought it would be fun to present the problem and discuss it with people. I have to confess that the irrationality and obstinacy of some people’s responses took me by surprise and eventually drove me to exasperation. I tried presenting the solution in terms of repeated trials: I got one guy to admit that, if you played the game repeatedly, then in the long run a strategy of always switching doors would win 2/3 of the time and a strategy of always staying with your first guess would win only 1/3 of the time; but, he insisted, if you were playing only once, then your chance of winning is 1/2 whether you switch or stay! (I hope that this does not start a discussion of the problem itself.)

  11. #11 Josh Slocum
    November 7, 2009

    Thanks Brian and Blake. I’ll wade in, and keep a notebook while I read. I hope you won’t mind if ask stupid questions:)

  12. #12 Jerry Coyne
    November 7, 2009

    Way to go, Jason! I look forward to reading the book.

  13. #13 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 7, 2009

    Thanks for all the kind words!

    Josh –

    Certain parts of the book are mathematically a bit heavy, but hopefully I provided enough commentary to make the main ideas understandable even if you choose to read around the equations. Much of the book involves no mathematics, while other parts use only fairly light math. If you’re the kind of person who thinks he might enjoy a book like this, hen you will probably do OK.

  14. #14 Josh Slocum
    November 8, 2009

    I’ll definitely be buying it, Jason! The Monty Hall scenario is vexing and fascinating to me, because (to me) it’s just so counter-intuitive. I *need* to wrestle it to the ground and master it. Probability literacy is widespread, too, so I’m looking forward to being a little less ignorant on that front as well (though I’ve come to find out the average person is a whole lot more ignorant about it than I am, which is downright terrifying).

  15. #15 Ray Moscow
    November 9, 2009

    I’ll add Jason’s book to my “must read” list. I did a fair bit of maths in engineering school, but they are extremely rusty now.

    And congratulations!

  16. #16 Ramesh Balasubramanian
    November 9, 2009

    Bravo! BTW, I have your book on my kindle DX!

  17. #17 David D.G.
    November 9, 2009

    Adding my own congratulations to the pile here, Jason! That’s really cool, to have Amazon list your brainchild among the year’s best science books. Kudos!

    ~David D.G.

  18. #18 SLC
    November 9, 2009

    It’s rather discouraging that numbnuts Steven Meyers’ piece of filth was on the customers’ list of top science books. His book is about as scientific as homeopathy.

  19. #19 Thony C.
    November 10, 2009

    It couldn’t have happened to a nicer blogger 😉

  20. #20 James Sweet
    November 10, 2009

    Kudos! I have not read your book, but the most succinct way I have come up with of explaining the Monty Hall “paradox” is:

    When you pick the first door and one of the doors you didn’t pick is opened, what you are doing is equivalent to asking the host, “If the prize were behind either door#2 or door#3, which of those two would it be?” The fact that you “picked” door #1 is a red herring: You are really just asking a question about the other two doors. You now have “information” about the remaining door, whereas you still know absolutely nothing about door #1.

    Of course that’s not a very precise or mathematical explanation, and I am using the word “information” in a very vague sense… but when I explain it to myself that way, the results of the math seem to make more intuitive sense. FWIW.

  21. #21 Matt Penfold
    November 11, 2009

    I was given a copy of your book for my birthday last Saturday. It has gone straight to the top of my books to read pile.

  22. #22 Takis Konstantopoulos
    November 11, 2009

    Jason, please accept my congratulations too for your accomplishment.

  23. #23 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 11, 2009

    Again, thanks to everyone for the kind words.

  24. #24 IssacBarrow
    December 3, 2009

    I just heard your book mentioned on the Science Magazine’s podcast. Your moving up in the world.

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