“I’ve been on both sides of the ‘hot hand.’ I’ve had it, and I’ve faced opponents who had it. And I’ve written extensively about the role it played in my life. But Ben Cohen offers up an original and riveting deep dive on this fascinating topic, which relates to so many other pursuits. A feast for anyone interested in the secrets of excellence.”—Andre Agassi, winner of eight Grand Slam titles and author of Open
The Hot Hand is the story of a seductive idea that has been studied, interrogated and debated by some of the smartest people on the planet for decades.
The psychologists and economists who spent their precious time exploring the science of streaks weren't just ordinary academics. They were genius scholars and Nobel Prize winners. They devoted themselves to a provocative question about a phenomenon that is rooted in basketball, but the reason for their obsession is that the hot hand is widely applicable beyond basketball. It touches nearly every industry and shapes our daily lives.
Oh, and more thing: It's not supposed to exist.
The Hot Hand tells stories about the night that changed Stephen Curry’s life and the investor who made his billions betting against streaks. It shows how this phenomenon influenced an Iraqi sculptor’s asylum, the search for a missing World War II hero, and the mystery of a Van Gogh painting. It reveals how the plague helped Shakespeare and how Spotify made its shuffle feature less random to feel more random. And it teaches how the recognition of patterns and cultivation of streaks can be fruitful—and disastrous.
A brilliant investigation into when streaks exist and how to take advantage of them, The Hot Hand is essential reading for anyone who thinks they’ve got a shot.
PRAISE FOR THE HOT HAND
"Cohen returns, always, to the game of basketball, but he pauses along the way to provide fascinating looks at coin tosses, investments, farm yields, and other real-world instances of how probability plays out in the world. Sports fans and science geeks alike will enjoy these travels in the world where numbers, luck, and superstardom meet."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review!)
"Fascinating, eye-opening and consistently entertaining, The Hot Hand asks a big question: how do we determine when one success will likely follow another? The answer is not only surprising, but instructive."—Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
"Long before I reached the end of this provocative and uniquely brilliant book, I knew I would never be ‘finished’ with it. Cohen’s research shows how every day, from basketball to business to beet farming, human events are profoundly shaped by the power of streaks. I will never make another difficult decision without considering this."—Sam Walker, author of The Captain Class
"A fascinating book on the elusive allure of being on a roll. For any fans of human psychology, or numbers geeks, wolves of wall street, basketball obsessives—and anyone else who loves great stories that hint at the mysteries behind our decision-making, belief…and occasional runaway success."—Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies
March 19: Golden Fig Books, Durham, N.C. (7:30 p.m.)
March 28: Montclair Literary Festival, Montclair, N.J. (Montclair Public Library, 11:15 a.m.)