Chapter 20. Not So Random Numbers

When it comes to calculating things these days, we have a bewildering array of tools in front of us. Unfortunately, we often don’t use the most powerful one of all—our brain. What I’m trying to say here is that we sometimes jump into the middle of figuring something out by opening a blank spreadsheet when what we really need to do is consider what it is we are trying to accomplish. Don’t let the tool govern the method of solution. The old adage applies: To the man with only a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

There’s a good antidote to this reflex, one I have used for many years. I imagine that I have the problem and am stranded on a desert island. How would I approach the solution using only the tools of ...

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