Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters (Hardcover)

Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters By Brian Klaas Cover Image
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This “captivating illustration of the follies of trying to model and forecast the unpredictable world” (Financial Times) is both “empowering” (The New Statesman, UK) and “compelling” (New Scientist) as it challenges our most fundamental assumptions—by social scientist and Atlantic writer Brian Klaas.

If you could rewind your life to the very beginning and then press play, would everything turn out the same? Or could making an accidental phone call or missing an exit off the highway change not just your life, but history itself?

In Fluke, myth-shattering social scientist Brian Klaas takes a deep-dive into the phenomenon of random chance and the chaos it can sow, taking aim at most people’s neat and tidy version of reality. The book’s argument is that we willfully ignore a bewildering truth: but for a few small changes, our lives—and our societies—could be radically different.

Offering an entirely new lens, Fluke explores how our world really works, driven by strange interactions and apparently random events. How did one couple’s vacation cause 100,000 people to die? Does our decision to hit the snooze button in the morning radically alter the trajectory of our lives? And has the evolution of humans been inevitable, or are we simply the product of a series of freak accidents?

Drawing on social science, chaos theory, history, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Klaas provides a brilliantly fresh look at why things happen—all while providing mind-bending lessons on how we can live smarter, be happier, and lead more fulfilling lives.

About the Author

Brian Klaas grew up in Minnesota, earned his DPhil at Oxford, and is now a professor of global politics at University College London. He is a contributing writer for The Atlantic, host of the award-winning Power Corrupts podcast, and frequent guest on national television. Klaas has conducted field research across the globe and advised major politicians and organizations including NATO and the European Union. You can find him at BrianPKlaas.com and on X @BrianKlaas.

Praise For…

“Provides a captivating illustration of the follies of trying to model and forecast the unpredictable world we inhabit [and also] entertainingly reminds us that modern society is a complex adaptive system…Fascinating.”
—Financial Times

“Fluke is full of examples of mind-boggling randomness…There’s something empowering about feeling every moment of your life could change the world.”
—The New Statesman

Fluke is provocative and compelling, bringing the complex relationship between order and chaos vividly alive. There is every chance you will love it.”
New Scientist

“Klaas poses the question, ‘If you could rewind your life to the very beginning and then press play, would everything turn out the same?’….He finds his answers in a multi-disciplinary survey of political science, philosophy, economics, evolutionary biology, geology and more, synthesizing and juxtaposing winningly…Fluke is engagingly written and Klaas has a nice way of broadening out anecdotes to make wider points….Some of these stories are quite gripping.”
The Arts Desk

“The book can provoke existential unease, but it also helps explain the cockamamie nature of the way things are, and it’s an always-interesting read. A handy user’s manual to a surprising, improbable, ‘infinitely complex’ world.”
Kirkus Reviews

At this book’s fascinating core is the idea that all of our actions count because of the web of connectivity that envelops us.  Brian Klaas is masterful in surfacing stories of history upended on a whim.”
—Jonah Berger, New York Times bestselling author of Contagious

Fluke is the intellectual equivalent of a slap across the face…Klaas’s beautifully written application of chaos theory to human experience won’t just shift your paradigm, it’ll detonate it.”
—Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

“Klaas explores how seemingly inconsequential actions have life-changing consequences. This utterly captivating book will make you rethink everything you have ever done.”
—Sabine Hossenfelder, physicist and New York Times bestselling author of Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions

“A brilliant meditation on the eternal clash between chaos and order, and determinism and freedom.  Klaas grapples with some of the most difficult, mind-bending questions of our time—or any time—[and] makes these heady topics a blast to read.”
—Scott Patterson, New York Times bestselling author of Chaos Kings and The Quants

“Consistently gripping—dazzling in its sweep and thrillingly brain-twisting in its arguments.”
—Tom Holland, author of Rubicon and Persian Fire

“Klaas calls attention to the way chance redirects our lives and spins us into new orbits, showing how we can be energized by all of the jostling….A must read!”
—Maya Shankar, founder of the White House Social and Behavior Sciences Team and creator of the podcast, A Slight Change of Plans

“In truth we are subject to a ceaseless barrage of unpredictable, but life-changing, events. Marshalling a series of provocative examples, Brian Klaas paints a convincing picture of the central role of randomness, and why there can nevertheless be a bit of order amid the chaos.”
—Sean Carroll, author of The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion

“Drawing on many disciplines, this fascinating book explores the combination of chaos and order that governs our lives and probes the deep question of whether we truly have free will.”
—Mervyn King, co-author of Radical Uncertainty and former Governor of the Bank of England

“Klaas expertly weaves riveting stories about real people, posing deep questions with uncertain answers. Self-exploration is a journey into the unknown, and Klaas is a genial guide.”
—Donald D. Hoffman, author of The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes
Product Details
ISBN: 9781668006528
ISBN-10: 1668006529
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English