• The Math of Life and Death

  • By: Kit Yates
  • Narrated by: Kit Yates
  • Length: 8 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (551 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brilliant and entertaining mathematician Kit Yates illuminates seven mathematical concepts that shape our daily lives.

From birthdays to birth rates to how we perceive the passing of time, mathematical patterns shape our lives. But for those of us who left math behind in high school, the numbers and figures we encounter as we go about our days can leave us scratching our heads, feeling as if we're fumbling through a mathematical minefield. In this eye-opening and “welcome addition to the math-for-people-who-hate-math” (Kirkus Reviews) genre, Kit Yates illuminates hidden principles that can help us understand and navigate the chaotic and often opaque surfaces of our world.

In The Math of Life and Death, Yates takes us on a “dizzying, dazzling” (Nature) tour of everyday situations and grand-scale applications of mathematical concepts, including exponential growth and decay, optimization, statistics and probability, and number systems. Along the way he reveals the mathematical undersides of controversies over DNA testing, Ponzi schemes, viral marketing, and historical events such as the Chernobyl disaster and the Amanda Knox trial. Listeners will finish this book with an enlightened perspective on the news, the law, medicine, and history and will be better equipped to make personal decisions and solve problems with math in mind, whether it’s choosing the shortest checkout line at the grocery store or halting the spread of a deadly disease.    

©2020 Kit Yates (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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What listeners say about The Math of Life and Death

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good but More Statistics than Biology

I bought this title following a story on Science Friday about it being a book about biological statistics. This is true to some extent and I believe that is the author's field. But it is much more a book about statistics. That is not meant as crticisim about a very good book about statistics including algorithms. And the 7 principles that form the subtitle of the book at made part of the chapters but never by name and not as being what the subtitle refers to until the last part of the last chapter.

33 people found this helpful

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A Powerful Insight Into How Math Both Enables And Manipulates Us

Ever get a feeling of skepticism after hearing a new “discovery” or “breakthrough? It seems to be a hot topic of discussion at the dinner table, with colleagues, or with friends. It seems almost too shocking to be true.

That’s because sometimes it is not true. Data is often manipulated because math enables us to skew facts in a way where it seems like it has to be true (but in fact isn’t).

Kit Yates writes about how Maths effect our lives, media headlines, and policies from vaccination rates to gun control.

More powerful is how Yates arguments can be applied to narratives, those things that take off like wildfire and shape our discussions, beliefs, and ultimately policies.

Yates arms us with the tools to be more skeptical in how we interpret things, how to tell if a narrative is likely false, and how to make better decisions from jury duty to where to send our kids to school.

I would recommend listening or reading this book first and then checking out another book called Narrative Economics by Noble Prize winning economist Robert J. Shiller. The combination of both books is powerful and you will see the world differently while being able to avoid manipulation, mistakes, and enable a better life.

It is easy to tell the amount of research, review and carefulness placed into this book. In the epilogue Yates mentions the involvement of a range of people. It is no wonder this book was features in Nature science journal, one of the most leading academic research journals. Nevertheless, Yates writes in a way that is easy to comprehend and fun to listen to for all people interested in becoming more insightful and make smarter decisions.

Happy reading!
Conor

24 people found this helpful

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Incoherent dribble

A complete disappointment. He does well when he sticks to biology and math but like most British academics he seems utterly obsessed with American politics and gun violence. His dive into complex social issues like these offers nothing new. Couldn’t even finish it. There are far better, illuminating books on mathematics out there. Save your money

23 people found this helpful

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Math Tainted by Biased Politics

Math is no place for politics. Period. And the bias the author spews is the acid that will destroy our culture. I love math and he makes some good points but the book is self-trashed by the tainted agenda.

23 people found this helpful

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Accessible and Interesting

Yates, with fascinating stories of miscarriages of justice, airplanes running out of fuel, deadly infectious diseases and more, makes clear key mathematical ideas in accessible and entertaining manner. His main argument is that these few mathematical topics can be used appropriately and inappropriately. It is important for the listener to understand them conceptually, not so the can do the calculations themselves, but to avoid being taken in by careless reports in the popular press and to elevate your knowledge when communicating with real or imagined experts.

The passion that Yates feels for the subject comes through as he reads the book. It was well worth the time spent listening and I hope that hie writes another.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

The best book of its type in years. There are others but this one is very worth your time and money.

4 people found this helpful

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Math in easiest way to understand

I realize a lot of applications in my life is math-based. Fantastic book. Highly recommend.

4 people found this helpful

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Intellectually engaging listen!

This was a really great listen for someone in the mood for intellectually engaging nonfiction.

It's also read by the author, and his accent helped keep my attention.

4 people found this helpful

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A good book if you are into statistics and math(s)

I am clearly not the target audience for this book because, while there are no formulas to navigate, there is still a lot of discussions of algorithms, statistics, etc. which I confess bores me to tears.

Having said that,there is some stuff in this book that even I found interesting, like how math and statistics are misused in courtrooms and an interesting discussion of vaccinations and anti-vaxers [It would be nice of this was required reading for anti-vaxers, but having experience with them, I don’t believe facts or mathematical data will change their opinion.]

3 people found this helpful

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Poor Narration

First, I want to say that this book has some pretty interesting things in it. While many of the principles are things that seem obvious, the author does a ok job applying them to real life.

But the narration made the book unfinishable. The cadence, sound mixing, inconsistent inflections, and inconsistent volume made it so that I could not finish the book. I wanted to finish it but the narration was painful.

2 people found this helpful