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Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math, and Probability

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Genre: Mathematics, Mystery
Publisher: Basic Books
Date Published: 2001
1 review about Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of...

You might want to re-think that last wager you made!

  • Dec 17, 2009
  • by
Talk about niche marketing! "Conned Again, Watson" is a pretty difficult book to categorize. Perhaps the sub-title does a fair job of letting a potential reader know what it's all about - "cautionary tales of logic, math and probability".

It's not a pastiche in the typical sense. What author Bruce does is simply use the characters of Watson and Holmes and some very light-hearted mysteries to probe typical ignorance and common misunderstandings about probabilities, statistics, game theory and so on. Bayesian conditional probabilities, the drunkard's walk, probability distributions, the cab driver fallacy, gambling fallacies and other topics of interest in decision theory are touched upon and explained in a fashion that even the most math-phobic reader could hardly fail to understand.

That said, I expect this is the kind of book that would appeal only to that specific niche market I referred to earlier - past readers of the Sherlock Holmes canon who also had an interest in popular mathematics. That interest needn't be deep or at a university level but "Conned Again, Watson" is unlikely to succeed on the basis of an interest in Sherlock Holmes alone.


Paul Weiss

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Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math, and Probability
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