The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks

The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks Review

For decades, statisticians, social scientists, psychologists, and economists (among them Nobel Prize winners) have spent massive amounts of precious time thinking about whether streaks actually exist. After all, a substantial number of decisions that we make in our everyday lives are quietly rooted in this one question: If something happened before, will it happen again? Is there such a thing as being in the zone? Can someone have a “hot hand”? Or is it simply a case of seeing patterns in randomness? Or, if streaks are possible, where can they be found?

In The Hot Hand, Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Cohen offers an unfailingly entertaining and provocative investigation into these questions. He begins with how a $35,000 fine and a wild night in New York revived a debate about the existence of streaks that was several generations in the making. We learn how the ability to recognize and then bet against streaks turned a business school dropout named David Booth into a billionaire, and how the subconscious nature of streak-related bias can make the difference between life and death for asylum seekers. We see how previously unrecognized streaks hidden amidst archival data helped solve one of the most haunting mysteries of the twentieth century, the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg. Cohen also exposes how streak-related incentives can be manipulated, from the five-syllable word that helped break arcade profit records to an arc of black paint that allowed Stephen Curry to transform from future junior high coach into the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history. Crucially, Cohen also explores why false recognition of nonexistent streaks can have cataclysmic results, particularly if you are a sugar beet farmer or the sort of gambler who likes to switch to black on the ninth spin of the roulette wheel.

Title:The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks
Edition Language:English

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    The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks Reviews

  • Mac

    Ben Cohen’s The Hot Hand taught me a lot, not all of it about the “The Mystery and Science of Streaks.” Here’s what I learned.A story written to entertain is not the same as a story written to...

  • Amanda

    Maybe it's my fault for overestimating how interested I was in finding out if the hot hand is real. I don't understand why so much time and money was spent trying to determine if the hot hand existed ...

  • Lee Woodruff

    Is there truth or science behind a “running streak” of good luck, talent, winning or creativity? I love the genre that tackles issues or questions combining human psychology, data, trends and stor...

  • Nav S

    I was excited to read this book because I'm a huge basketball fan and also because I've experienced "the hot hand" phenomenon couple of times myself while playing basketball, even though I'm not a pro...

  • MIKE Watkins Jr.

    Summary: I would recommend this for two reasons. 1. It's very well written (the author has some serious writing chops). 2. As far as I know there aren't really any other books that cover this subject ...

  • Brendan

    The story of "the hot hand," the belief that multiple successes can lead to basketball or others (composers, artists, film directors) having periods where they excel above their normal performance lev...

  • Sarah

    The book is named for "the hot hand", a phenomenon where a person suddenly goes on a hot-streak. In basketball, this is when a player makes shot after shot. In creative endeavors, it's the time period...

  • Batgirl13

    This book was fascinating if a bit long. I really enjoyed books like Freakanomics and The World is Flat and this book feels like it's in those veins. There were a couple anecdotes that went in directi...

  • Roosevelt

    Fascinating anecdotes interweave into a great read. I was initially intrigued in this book because I thought this streak-concept hasn’t been well explored in literature. I appreciated the expansive ...

  • Tawney

    I received this book compliments of Custom House through the Goodreads giveaway program.I rate this 3 1/2 starsOverall this book was informative and enjoyable. Ben Cohen's enthusiasm for the subject i...