You know your life is good when you refer to Walt Disney World as “the southern office.” But things got even better this week when we found out that our Disney World touring plans were featured in a new book on how statistics and probability apply to everyday life.
Numbers Rules Your World: The Hidden Influence on Probability and Statistics on Everything You Do describes our touring plans and the inner workings of Disney’s FASTPASS system to explain how queuing theory and statistical modeling come together to make families’ visits to Walt Disney World better. Numbers is written by Kaiser Fung, a professional statistician and the author of the Junk Charts blog. (He’s also got degrees from Cambridge, Harvard and Princeton, in addition to a gig as XM Radio’s statistician.)
I’ve read most of the book this week, and Kaiser has done a remarkable job of explaining how statistics and probability work. One of my favorite examples is a comparison of the odds of winning the lottery and dying in a plane crash. Both are apparently about the same (one in ten million as described), yet the average person’s behavior illustrates that we think both events are much more likely to happen.
Coincidentally, I’d read SuperFreakonomics last week. Numbers Rule Your World is written in a similar, easy to read manner, and focuses on statistics instead of economics. If you liked Freakonomics you’ll definitely enjoy Numbers.