Skip to main content

How to Predict the Unpredictable

The Art of Outsmarting Almost Everybody

William Poundstone

We are hard-wired to believe that the world is more predictable than it is. We chase ‘winning streaks’ that are often just illusions, and we are all too predictable exactly when we try hardest not to be.

In the 1970s, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky coined the phrase ‘representativeness’ to describe the psychology of this behaviour. Since then representativeness has been used by auditors to catch people fiddling their tax returns and by hedge fund managers to reap billions from the emotions of small investors. Now Poundstone for the first time makes these techniques fun, easy, and profitable for everyone, in the everyday situations that matter. You’ll learn how to tackle multiple choice tests, what internet passwords to avoid, how to up your odds of winning the office Premier League sweepstakes, and the best ways to invest your money.

  • Publication date: September 4, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780744070
  • RRP: £12.99
  • Pages: 304
  • Publication date: September 4, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780744087
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 304


‘Vivid [and] fascinating’


‘[Poundstone’s] underlying argument is both valid and vital. As he notes in his prologue, "the most important outguessing machine is the one known as Big Data". Shannon's mind-reading technology has become unavoidable and ubiquitous’

New Scientist

'Poundstone calls on a fascinating array of examples to demonstrate his point. But be warned: these insights may not help much longer now that Poundstone has blabbed them. So read it quick' (5/5 Stars) 

BBC Focus

'Poundstone is a smart thinker, a deft writer and a spinner of engaging tales… enjoyable and original’ 

Tim Harford

‘Highly entertaining… brilliant’ 

E&T magazine

'Ingenious... a delightful addition to the everything-you-thought-you-knew-is-wrong genre.'

Kirkus Reviews

'Intriguing and immensely useful.'

Publishers Weekly

'Fascinating... it's all gold-dust... this could save you real money'

The Bookbag

William Poundstone

William Poundstone is the author of seventeen books including How to Predict Everything, How to Predict the Unpredictable and Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? He has written for the Economist, New York Times, Harper’s and Harvard Business Review, among others. You can find out more about him on his website:

Author page

More books by William Poundstone

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