Skip to main content


The Maths and Myths of Coincidences

Joseph Mazur

What are the chances?! This exclamation greets the scarcely believable coincidence – you’re picked up by the same taxi driver several years and thousands of miles apart or, in a second-hand bookshop far from home, you find your own childhood copy of Winnie-the-Pooh on the shelf. But the unlikely is more probable than you think. Against every fibre of common sense, the fact is that it’s quite likely that some squirrel, somewhere, will be struck by lightning as it crosses the road.

The chaos and unpredictability of our lives is an illusion. There is a rational order to the universe, and it’s called mathematics. Fluke is a fascinating investigation into the true nature of chance, a must-read for maths enthusiasts and avid storytellers alike, it tears down the veil of improbability to reveal the wonderfully possible. 

  • Publication date: February 2, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781780749006
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 272
  • Publication date: June 2, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780749013
  • RRP: £5.994.99
  • Pages: 272


‘Delightfully written.’

E&T Magazine

'[An] entirely delightful slice of popular science...I'm no mathematician, and I was both fascinated and enchanted'.

BooksellerAlison Flood

‘Mazur uses probability to strip chance events of some of their mystery.’


‘Always entertaining and frequently insightful, Fluke is never less than thought-provoking.’

Amir Alexander, Wall Street Journal

‘With charm and clarity, Joe Mazur leads us through the strange terrain of chance and surprise... A terrific read, and a welcome antidote to superstition and gullibility.’

Ian Stewart, author of Professor Stewart’s Incredible Numbers

‘The chances are very slim that you’d ever read this blurb. A simple-minded calculation puts the odds at about 50,000 to one against. Yet... here you are. How weird is this seemingly far-fetched coincidence? Well, dear reader, you’ve picked up the right book to answer that question.’

Charles Seife, author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

‘Joe Mazur’s Fluke walks the reader, hand in steady hand, through the weird and dangerous landscape of extreme probability, distinguishing cause from correlate, and phenomenon from mere coincidence.’

Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

‘An exciting addition to the ranks of books exploring the mysteries of chance and coincidence in the vein of The Black Swan and The Improbability Principle.’

David J. Hand, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College London and author of The Improbability Principle

Joseph Mazur

Author page

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletters to find out more about our latest books and offers, straight to your inbox.
Select mailing lists