Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk



The Pequod Review:

Peter Bernstein's Against the Gods is a dry but sweeping history of risk and uncertainty over the last 500 years — and specifically how Western societies abandoned the belief that unpredictable events are controlled by a god or gods, and instead began to think probabilistically. Bernstein cites this great quote from G.K. Chesterton:  

The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.

This is a supremely important development in modern intellectual history, and one that is not quite complete even today.