The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger

The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Michael Blastland, By (author) David Spiegelhalter

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  • Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 216mm x 24mm | 405g
  • Publication date: 30 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1846686202
  • ISBN 13: 9781846686207
  • Sales rank: 58,758

Product description

Meet Norm. He's 31, 5'9", just over 13 stone, and works a 39 hour week. He likes a drink, doesn't do enough exercise and occasionally treats himself to a bar of chocolate (milk). He's a pretty average kind of guy. In fact, he is the average guy in this clever and unusual take on statistical risk, chance, and how these two factors affect our everyday choices. Watch as Norm (who, like all average specimens, feels himself to be uniquely special), and his friends careful Prudence and reckless Kelvin, turns to statistics to help him in life's endless series of choices - should I fly or take the train? Have a baby? Another drink? Or another sausage? Do a charity skydive or get a lift on a motorbike? Because chance and risk aren't just about numbers - it's about what we believe, who we trust and how we feel about the world around us. What we do, or don't do, has as much do with gut instinct as hard facts, with enjoyment as understanding. If you've ever wondered what the statistics in tabloid scare stories really mean, how dangerous horse-riding is compared to class-A drugs, or what governs coincidence, you will find it all here. From a world expert in risk and the bestselling author of The Tiger That Isn't (and creator of BBC Radio 4's More or Less), this is a commonsense (and wildly entertaining) guide to personal risk and decoding the statistics that represent it.

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Author information

Michael Blastland is an author, journalist, and BBC Radio 4 broadcaster. He co-authored, with Andrew Dilnot, Profile's best-selling The Tiger that Isn't [9781861978394]. David Spiegelhalter OBE is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge and the Royal Society.

Customer reviews

By Jennifer Stewart 05 Sep 2013 4

You may be interested to know (of course you are) that the risk of dying associated with having a general anaesthetic in a UK hospital is equivalent to riding around 70 miles on a motor bike or jumping out of a plane wearing a parachute. And that " ...in 2008 in New York State, there were 10,707 coronary artery bypass graft operations (CABGs) in 40 hospitals, and 194 patients died either in hospital or within 30 days -- a mortality rate of 1.8 per cent." However, these same statistics in the UK would be reported as a 98.2 per cent survival rate! (A reminder that while numbers don't lie, they can certainly change perceptions!)

Just one more set of numbers by way of illustration of what you'll find in 'The Norm Chronicles' ... "Surgery on heart valves (has) a higher risk: of 21,445 operations between 2006 and 2008, 1,120 patients died -- a mortality rate of 5.2 per cent. ...equivalent to around 5,000 parachute jumps, or two RAF bombing missions in the Second world War."

Bet you never thought of it like that before, did you?

These wonderful stats (and hundreds more similar "equivalents") are from this t'riffic little book that contains "stories and numbers about danger." The book uses Norm, the literal Mr Average, to take a look at the risks we all face (and fear we face) throughout our lives. From birth, through infancy, into the dangerous teen years of drugs, driving and extreme sports, to the perils of work, travel, radiation, space, crime and finally The End years, authors Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter have a ball pointing out the risks inherent in our lives. F'r instance, do you think it's "safer to have an all-body health scan or to stand a mile-and-a-half from the epicentre of the Hiroshima atom bomb?"

Not sure?

Then you'll just have to get the book!

Jennifer Stewart
www.write101.com

Review quote

A very funny book ... this is one of those maths books that claims to be self-help, and on the evidence presented here, we are in dire need of it Telegraph Praise for Joe, the Only Boy in the World: 'From this careful, serious book emerges a man with a quick wit and far-seeing eye for what makes life so peculiar ... Joe stands out as a work of rare enlightenment Seven A witty, insightful, educational and wholly original book - and a wonderful achievement. Read it! -- Tim Harford, author of "The Undercover Economist" and presenter of "More or Less" on BBC Radio 4 Fascinating -- John Harding Daily Mail A fast-paced, whizz-bang style -- Iain Finlayson The Times Helping people make sense of the barrage of confusing (and often misrepresented) statistics that riddle every day is a noble goal. Making the process enjoyable is a real achievement. The Economist The statistics are presented with admirable lucidity, using an ingenious method devised by the authors, and may serve to reassure more neurotic readers ... Witty and illuminating, The Norm Chronicles is essential reading for anyone wanting to know whether they should try skydiving, or accept that third glass of wine -- Orlando Bird Financial Times Illuminating ... eye-catching ... a real achievement The Economist