Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything is a book about the concept of "luck" in its various senses, including such notions as fate / destiny / karma / superstition / astrology / ESP and more, and how we can avoid "luck traps" to discover the truth -- all from the perspective of a professor of statistics. It was published in Fall 2018 by HarperCollins Canada. See the book's web page at harpercollins.ca or harpercollins.com and a Q&A1 and Q&A2. It will also be published in Japan by Hayakawa, and in Croatia by Profil Knjiga.
The book is available from amazon.ca (or paperback / kindle edition), amazon.com (or kindle), indigo.ca, amazon.co.uk (or kindle), amazon.in (or kindle), Barnes & Noble, Walmart, iBooks, UofT Bookstore, and at the Toronto Public Library / ebook [see tweet] and UofT Library. ISBN: 9781443453073.
It went on-sale on October 2, 2018, with a book launch on October 4.
See also the clickable endnotes (pdf), the dust jacket / alt, Knock On Wood on wood, and the publicity activities below, as well as my previous bestselling book Struck by Lightning.
"'Good luck!' Something we say almost every day with best of intentions but little thought. What are we really honouring when we say good luck? Knock on Wood is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why things happen." -- Darrell Bricker, CEO, Ipsos Public Affairs, co-author of The Big Shift
"Whether it's a conscious thing or something we do everyday without even thinking about it, it's pretty safe to say that all humans are at least a little bit superstitious. From not walking under ladders to always entering and leaving a building through the same door to never uttering the name of The Scottish Play inside a theatre, the acts we associate with bad luck are seemingly infinite. Exploring the origins of luck around the world, and whether or not it actually exists at all, Jeffrey S. Rosenthal's Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything is a great read for believers and non-believers alike. While some superstitions can be explained away as pure common sense - it's just a dangerous thing to do - others, like four-leaf clovers, rabbit feet, and 'lucky' pennies as signs of good fortune are a little harder to explain away. With humour, science, and a bit of a tongue-in-cheek attitude this University of Toronto statistics professor is sure to entertain and inform you in equal measure!" -- Books on Beechwood
"5 stars out of 5. Indispensable Reasoning for Everyone - Beautifully Done. Stumbling upon a book on luck and probability written by a professor of statistics, one might expect to see a lot of formulas and calculations. Well, not in this case. This is a book for everyone - the math phobic included. In prose that is friendly, lively, authoritative, witty and immensely captivating, the author discusses a great many real-world topics from a luck/probability point of view. The topics are quite varied: coincidences, superstitions, sports, lotteries, polling, astrology and religion just to name a few. The author also includes a few snippets from his personal life, giving the book a very special human touch. When discussing a given topic, perhaps some ridiculous superstition, the author does not immediately dismiss it out of hand; he first of all takes a serious look at the associated numbers and logic which then lead him to the obvious conclusion. I enjoyed this book very much, as I did his prior book (Struck by Lightning) and I hope to see more such books in the future from this gifted author. If I could make a small recommendation, perhaps some formulas/technical details could be included in his future books, if only in appendixes; this would more thoroughly illustrate the nitty-gritty elements that could be enjoyed by mathematics enthusiasts like me. An excellent read!" -- First amazon review (Oct 6, 2018):
"Congratulations on the book, it's a marvelous, wonderful read ... a delightful new book." -- The Drew Marshall Show (3:57 and 19:20)
And it was initially running 4.67 out of 5 on goodreads.com.
On Oct 31 between 11:00 and 12:00 ET (12:00 and 1:00 AT), I did a call-in show on CBC Maritime radio (see audio file beginning at the 11:49 mark). I gave talks about my new book in the university lecture series in Oakville on Oct 29 (see photo), in Markham on Nov 1, and in Toronto's Bloor Cinema on Nov 7 (see photo, audio). On Sat Nov 17 between 2:30 and 3:00, I was interviewed live on JOY 1250 radio in Oakville (see audio, mp3). On Nov 23 I was interviewed for a Globe & Mail article about hockey probabilities.
On Tues Dec 4 at 6:15, I gave a talk to CFI Toronto at 485 Queen St W, Toronto (see poster, eventbrite, meetup, Open Book announcement). On Wed Dec 5 at 5:00, I gave a talk at the Rotman School (see Facebook, excerpt, streaming, mp4). Then on Thurs Dec 6 at 6:30, I gave a public talk about luck for CANSSI in Vancouver (see eventbrite, announcement, video, mp4). The next day, Fri Dec 7, I was interviewed by Global News Morning BC television at 10:15am (see video, mp4), and by The Simi Sara Show (radio) at 12:35pm.
In 2019, I will give talks about the book to the Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT) on Sat Jan 12 (see announcement, Facebook), to the Harvard Club of Toronto on Wed Mar 6 (see event), at University of Toronto Senior College on Wed Mar 13 (see announcement), to the Centre for Inquiry Canada in Ottawa on Sun Mar 17 (see eventbrite, meetup, Facebook), at the University of Windsor on Mon Mar 25 (see tweet, poster), to Oraynu on Tues Apr 2 (rescheduled from Feb 12; see event), at CRAM Toronto at 9:00 PM on Fri Apr 5 (see interview), at the 2019 MBNCanada National Forum on Thurs Apr 11, at Brentwood Library on Tues Apr 16, at Northern District Library on Wed Apr 17, to the Halton Peel Humanists on Tues May 14 (see meetup, facebook, youtube), at Mississauga Secondary School on Wed May 22, at the U of T Alumni Reunion on Sat June 1, to the Grey Bruce Humanists on Sun Oct 20, and to the Western University Senior Alumni on November 22.
I will also give a French-language research talk to graduate students at UQAM in Montreal on Mar 15, a research colloqium at the University of Windsor on Mar 26, a DA/Fujitsu Monthly Meeting seminar on April 23, a Criminal Law Conference talk in Vancouver on Jun 7, and a research talk at the JSM in Denver on July 30. Plus I will perform music for Middle Raged on March 8/9/10/23 in Oakville and March 13 in Toronto. And I did media interviews about lottery probabilities for CBC Kitchener on Jan 12, and CBC Iqaluit on Jan 16, plus interviews about luck and statistics with CBC Windsor on March 26, and with Canadian Atheist on April 12 / April 27 / May 21, and about the Toronto Raptors with CityTV News (also on 680 News) on May 13, with 680 News on May 15 (see audio), on CTV National News (21:36) on May 25 (see mp4 file), and for CP / sportsnet / Toronto Star / CityNews / TSN and also for CityTV television on May 30, and for CBC Newsworld and Radio-Canada (in French) on May 31. I also did interviews for BBC about a safe on June 5, and about Raptors probabilities for CTV News Channel and for torontolife.com on June 10.
In 2020, I will speak on February 4 at the Arts and Letters Club.
For publicity announcements, please follow me on Twitter.
The book Knock on Wood may be ordered from e.g. amazon.ca (or kindle) or amazon.com (or kindle), or from most bookstores.
See also Jeffrey Rosenthal's previous book and non-research writings and home page.