The ideas and anomalies discussed in this web site can be investigated further by reading Professor Hand’s new book ‘The Improbability Principle’ (US edition).  (click here for UK edition).

The Improbability Principle - US Edition

The Improbability Principle - UK Edition


Why is it that incredibly unlikely phenomena actually happen quite regularly and why should we, in fact, expect such things to happen? Here, in this highly original book – aimed squarely at anyone with an interest in coincidences, probability or gambling – eminent statistician David Hand answers this question by weaving together various strands of probability into a unified explanation, which he calls the improbability principle.

This is a book that will appeal not only to those who love stories about startling coincidences and extraordinarily rare events, but also to those who are interested in how a single bold idea links areas as diverse as gambling, the weather, airline disasters and creative writing as well as the origin of life and even the universe. The Improbability Principle will change your perspective on how the world works – and tell you what the Bible code and Shakespeare have in common, how to win the lottery, and whether dogs really can tell when their owners will return home.  Oh and why lightning does in fact strike twice…


Here are a few of the reviews the book has received:

Hal Varian Google’s Chief Economist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley
In my experience, it is very rare to find a book that is both erudite and entertaining. Yet The Improbability Principle is such a book. Surely this cannot be due to chance alone!
John Pullinger President of the Royal Statistical Society
Considering that The Improbability Principle comes from the keyboard of David J. Hand, it was perhaps inevitable that it would be a certain winner!”
Joseph M. Hilbe President of the International Astrostatistics Association and ambassador for the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology
Written by one of the world’s preeminent statisticians, The Improbability Principle provides you with a sense of what chance and improbability really mean, and engenders an understanding that uncertainty rests at the core of nature. I highly recommend this book.
Gordon Woo Catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions
As someone who happened to meet his future wife on a plane, on an airline he rarely used, I wholeheartedly endorse David Hand’s fascinating guide to improbability, a subject which affects the lives of all, yet until now has lacked a coherent exposition of its underlying principles.
Sir Andrew Dilnot Coauthor of 'The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Life', and Chair of the UK Statistics Authority
The Improbability Principle is an elegant, astoundingly clear, and enjoyable combination of subtle statistical thinking and real-world events. David J. Hand really does explain why ‘surprising’ things will happen and why statistics matters.
Publisher's Weekly
[An] ingenious introduction to probability that mixes counterintuitive anecdotes with easily digestible doses of statistics . . . Hand offers much food for thought, and readers willing to handle some simple mathematics will find this a delightful addition to the “why people believe weird things” genre.

You can purchase your own copy of the book here (for the USA) or here (for the UK).  You might also be interested to view the publisher’s (Macmillan/Scientific American)  web page about the book here.