Confused by the Odds

How Probability Misleads Us

Non-Fiction - Education
248 Pages
Reviewed on 09/12/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Bryone Peters for Readers' Favorite

This book provides a concise history of people who influenced statistics and the theorems that developed from them, starting from a professional gambler, the founder of probability, to Bayes’ theorem. Confused by the Odds: How Probability Misleads Us by David Lockwood makes understanding the results of random events easier. There are no complicated statistical or mathematical equations, only a factual description of what influences the odds of an occurrence and why. Lockwood shows us brilliantly how not to be misled by RCT studies (randomized controlled trials) but to use observations instead and to use the counterfactual claim as an additional way to check the validity of our observations. He cautions us to be careful of research as even some of the most cited ones are non-reputable.

Several things excited me about this book. Easily misunderstood yet fundamental elements are used to describe causality relationships in experimental research. In causal relationships, these elements include mediator variables, colliders, confounders, chains and forks, and correlation caveats. Frequently used in research and academia but seldom understood correctly, Lockwood brings these concepts down to the layman's level of understanding as only an expert can do. Confused by the Odds by David Lockwood will give you a better understanding of human biases and provides simple ways to estimate them objectively. I enjoyed reading about the background and history of prominent people who influenced statistics - the good and the bad. I especially enjoyed reading about Burkes, the first person to question intelligence tests based on confounding and biased variables.