The Norm Chronicles

The Norm Chronicles (2013) by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter is an excellent look at risk in everyday life. Blastland is one of the creators of the wonderful More or Less radio program and Spiegelhalter is a statistician.
The book has three characters, Norm, an average person in as many ways as possible, Prudence, who is always cautious and Kelvin who is a big risk taker. The three of them appear in each chapter and then the risks they are encountering are assessed. The book uses the MicroMort, which is a one in a million chance of death to compare risks. Later on the MicroLife is introduced, which is an extension or reduction of life expectancy due to some activity.
The three characters and the comprehensible standard units provide a framework for calmly looking at the risks of cancer, transport, extreme sports, drinking and other activities that we all engage in. Risks are also compared through time and for different ages.
The book is excellent non-fiction. The main characters provide anchor points and the discussions, facts and figures provide the substance of the book. It’s easy and fun to read and very much worth getting hold of.


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