SC Talks: “The Puzzle of Luck”, Jeffrey Rosenthal, March 13, 2019

March 13, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
The Faculty Club
Faculty Club
41 Willcocks St, Toronto, ON M5S 1C7
Senior College
416 978 7553

All presentations will be held on Wednesday afternoons from 2:00pm-4:00pm at the Faculty Club, 41 Willcocks Street. Programs are free for Fellows of Senior College, but RSVP is required. Members of Senior College who are not Fellows and visitors are asked to donate $10.00 to help defray costs. The Senior College Lunch (1:00pm) may be reserved for a reasonable fee with RSVP for the program.

The Talk:  “The Puzzle of Luck”

After the success of my first book, “Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities”, I gave lots of public talks where I spoke about everything from lotteries to opinion polls to crime statistics to medical studies.  Every once in a while, someone would ask if I believe in “luck”, and if the uncertainty in our lives is truly random or is governed by such concepts as fate, destiny, superstition, astrology, ESP, and divine intervention.  After deflecting such questions for years, I finally decided to tackle them head on by writing a new book, “Knock On Wood:

Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything” (HarperCollins 2018).  In this talk, I will discuss my perspective as a statistician on various stories and examples and surprises about the puzzle of luck.

Jeffrey Rosenthal is a professor of Statistics at the University of Toronto.
He received his BSc from the University of Toronto at the age of 20, his PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 24, and tenure at the University of Toronto at the age of 29. He received the 2006 CRM-SSC Prize, the 2007 COPSS Presidents’ Award, the 2013 SSC Gold Medal, and teaching awards at both Harvard and Toronto. He is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and of the Royal Society of Canada. Rosenthal’s book for the general public, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, was published in sixteen editions and ten languages, and was a bestseller in Canada, leading to numerous media and public appearances, and to his work exposing the Ontario lottery retailer scandal. It was followed by a second book for the general public, Knock On Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything. He has also dabbled as a computer game programmer, musical performer, and improvisational comedy performer, and is fluent in French. His web site is, and on Twitter he is @ProbabilityProf.

Despite being born on Friday the thirteenth, Rosenthal has been a very fortunate person.


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