Book review: Dance with Chance, by Makridakis/ Hogarth/ Gaba

This ambitious book is chock-full of quotes and quips, but it struggles to make a useful point, says Andrew Davidson.

by Andrew Davidson

What a piece of luck! A book on chance arrives on my desk. Will it prove provocative? Will it lapse into an irritating, matey question mode to camouflage its well-researched core? Let's take a look.

Makridakis, Hogarth and Gaba, the three authors of Dance With Chance - all business school professors - love a bit of chumminess. They exhort, they chide, they joke, they start tougher sections with 'Let's turn our attention to'. All so they can lead us by the hand through some knotty subjects.

Perhaps that's no bad thing. They try to unpick how chance can unravel our best-laid plans - yes, the Burns quote is in there - yet how we humans love 'the illusion of control'. This has implications for the way we approach financial markets, how we organise our wealth and look after our health. It's all slightly tragic, when a tsunami can whisk us off the beach, or a coconut drop on our head.

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