Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters
Want to know what chaos theory can teach us about human events? In the perspective-altering tradition of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan comes a provocative challenge to how we think our world works—and why small, chance events can divert our lives and change everything, 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? And would you remain blind to the radically different possible world you unknowingly left behind?
In Fluke, myth-shattering social scientist Brian Klaas dives deeply into the phenomenon of random chance and the chaos it can sow, taking aim at most people’s neat and tidy storybook 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.
Praise for Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters
“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.”
“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.”
“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