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William Poundstone

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William Poundstone

William Poundstone is an American author, columnist, and skeptic. He has written a number of books including the Big Secrets series, which causes an uproar among magicians at the time for exposure and a biography of Carl Sagan. He is a cousin of comedian Paula Poundstone.[1]


An enthusiast of Harry Stephen Keeler, he maintains the Keeler homepage and contributed to the anthology A to Izzard: A Harry Stephen Keeler Companion (2002).

In 1983 Poundstone published his first book "Big Secrets: The Uncensored Truth About All Sorts of Stuff You Are Never Supposed to Know". The book was devoted to the telling of such things as the Coka Cola formula, the Kentucky Fried Chicken formula and magic tricks. The four chapters on magic exposed the dancing handkerchief, the floating ball, sawing a woman in two, blindfold drives, the vanishing horse and rider, and various Kreskin stunts.


  • Big Secrets: The Uncensored Truth About All Sorts of Stuff You Are Never Supposed to Know (1983)
  • The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge (1984)
  • Bigger Secrets: More Than 125 Things They Prayed You'd Never Find Out (1986)
  • Labyrinths of Reason: Paradox, Puzzles, and the Frailty of Knowledge (1988)
  • The Ultimate: The Great Armchair Debates Settled Once and for All (1990)
  • Prisoner's Dilemma: John von Neumann, Game Theory, and the Puzzle of the Bomb (1992)
  • Biggest Secrets: More Uncensored Truth About All Sorts of Stuff You Are Never Supposed to Know (1993)
  • Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos (1999)
  • The Big Book of Big Secrets (2001) reprints Big Secrets and Biggest Secrets
  • How Would You Move Mount Fuji? : Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle—How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers (2003)
  • Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street (2005)
  • Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It) (2008)
  • Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) (2010)


  1. William Poundstone official site
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