Buy Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences Bound for Schools & Libraries ed. by Professor John Allen Paulos (ISBN: ) from. by. John Allen Paulos. · Rating details · 3, ratings · reviews. Dozens of examples in innumeracy show us how it affects not only personal economics. Innumeracy – by John Allen Paulos. ISBN: Date read: How strongly I recommend it: 8/10 (See my list of + books, for more.).
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos. Dozens of examples in innumeracy show us how it affects not only personal economics and travel plans, but explains mis-chosen mates, inappropriate drug-testing, and the allure of pseudo-science.
Paperbackpages. Published August 18th by Hill and Wang first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Innumeracyplease sign up. In the chapter on coincidence and probability, Paulos states: Since a year has days if you count February 29there would have to be people gathered together in order for us to be absolutely certain that at least two people in the group have the same birthday.
Victor Nabila coincidence and absolute certainty are two very different concepts. Glenn Morgan check this link for a full description on why this is …more Nabila coincidence and absolute certainty are two very different concepts. Glenn Morgan check this link for a full description on why this is wrong and by how much https: Although I think in the book the author is explaining in the following paragraphs how the sentence you posted is actually false.
See 2 questions about Innumeracy…. Lists with This Book. May 23, Jerzy rated it liked it Shelves: Most of the book is a collection of examples commonly seen in other pop math books: I hoped the book would be an in-depth look at where innumeracy stems from and how to prevent it. The Most of the book is a collection of examples commonly seen in other pop math books: There is a chapter about this, but it’s not the meat of the book.
He mentions standard things like poor math education, psychological blocks like “math anxiety”, and popular misconceptions that math is just cold spiritless arithmetic.
He does propose a few solutions here and there, like getting more non-mathematicians writing about math and highlighting the warmth and passion of the subject to get rid of negative stereotypes But I do really like his idea of placing more emphasis on estimation in schools, and especially that people should build personal mental libraries of collections of things for every power of 10 up to at least a trillion.
Innumeracy – John Allen Paulos
In other words, you should be able to visualize how many is a thousand of something vs a million of something vs a trillion of something. For example, the stadium in our town seats 1, people; a wall nearby has 10, bricks; etc.
It would be handy for aallen to be able to judge for themselves whether or not a number cited in the newspaper is realistic. Another cool idea is his logarithmic risk scale or safety scale. If only 1 in 5 million US aplen is kidnapped each year, the safety index is a much higher 6.
If newspapers and TV started to use this kind of scale, it would be an easier way for people to compare the relative risk of various activities.
I also liked his discussion of coincidences – for example, hearing in the morning that vivid details of your previous night’s dream match what you hear on the news.
Assuming that there’s only a one-in-ten-thousand or one-in-a-million chance of this happening on a given night, over the course of a year in a big country like the USA you’d still get plenty of people to whom this happens simply due to plain chance – not any sort of ESP or anything. So the fact that this has occasionally happened to you or someone you know should not be surprising in the least. The author goes on to bash more pseudoscience in detail; I agree with him but doubt that anybody who believes that stuff in the first place is going to be convinced otherwise by something as simple as facts and math.
Anyway, reasonable people often believe total crap too. It cracks me up that, at one point, phrenological exams were commonly a precondition of employment in big corporations!
There’s also an interesting comment about “winners” and “losers”.
That only applies to the ratio – the absolute difference between number of heads and number of tails is NOT guaranteed to approach zero. If an initial large absolute difference arises due to chance, it’s not likely to go away. So if Harry is betting heads and Tom is betting tails, and after the first tosses Harry just happens to be ahead 60 to 40, Harry is likely to stay ahead for a long time.
The next tosses are likely to split aboutso he’d end up aheadand so on; at tosses Harry’s still most likely to be ahead This doesn’t mean that one side or the other is necessarily likely to get that far ahead – but if someone DOES, by pure chance, then they’re likely to stay ahead. Perhaps in real life some people end up treated like “winners” or “losers” in general because they’ve ended up on the wrong side of the difference in wins; Harry here always seems to be ahead of Tom, even though Tom and Harry are each successful at only about half the things they attempt.
Another good section is about reward and punishment. Say that each of us tends to perform at some mean level on a particular task for example, if I throw darts, assume I’ll tend to hit near the bullseye 10 times out of So if I do poorly today I’m likely to do better tomorrow; and if I do well today I’m likely to do worse tomorrow.
This is called regression to the mean. Now, if we reward good performance and punish poor performance, and regression to the mean occurs, we are likely to assume that punishment causes improvement while praise causes a lapse – even if the punishment or reward had no effect on the next day’s performance.
Finally, he also says mathematicians tend to have a particular sense of humor – they take things literally when they’re not meant to be, or they take a premise to extremes with comical result.
And indeed it makes sense that this kind of play is exactly what you do when solving math problems or coming up with proofs. My puns and bad jokes aren’t pathological – I’m just studying! Jul 09, Lisa rated it did not like it Shelves: On page 94, Paulos bemoans the fact that people attribute combination to causation: He is trying to segue into other reasons for innumeracy, but fumbles, because to make the strongest logical statement, he should have said, “Still, it’s not the whole story, since there are many quite numerate people who have had such poor mathematical education.
I believe I’m not being nit-picky to say that his poor control over logic is a deterrent to finishing his book about the poor state of logic in America. Or maybe, it just proves his point even more strongly So, I’m on page ofand I refuse to read any further. Additionally, I will never pick up any book by Paulos again, nor will I read anything he recommends. View all 7 comments.
Mar 16, blakeR rated it it was ok Shelves: Those are two dependent scenarios, meaning I’d have to multiply them to get the likelihood that I ever might have liked this book, which comes out to.
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
It’s a breezy enough introduction to the problem of innumeracy, but ultimately it has less to do with its subtitle — Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences — and more to do innummeracy Mr. Paulos flaunting his intellectual superiority via a litany of schizoid statistical and probabilistic scenarios.
It feels like a precursor to Malcolm Gladwellwhat with his “Did you know. Even had Paulos focused more on the last word of that subtitle, the consequences and implications, this might have felt more worthwhile. As is it felt pwulos little more than a talent show. Paulos actually admits that mathematicians have a deserved reputation for arrogance, and also that he was attracted to math mainly because it gave him a way of feeling superior to others p.
Both traits are obvious here, and in that sense I have to think that he is one of the least effective ambassadors that Math could have wound up with. His arrogance is particularly off-putting when casually insulting educators a population to which I belong and also when dismissing dreams; though I accept his point about their predictability, I respect the human mind enough to acknowledge we probably don’t understand exactly how they work yet.
He does offer some important reminders and warnings about the misuse of statistics, probability and averages — really interesting paklos two of the last points he makes, about the difference between statistical significance and practical significance, and then introducing his unique and highly useful safety logarithm.
But each of these topics could have benefited from zllen much deeper treatment, with both more examples and a more structured argument of how innumeeacy problem affects us and what we can do to prevent it.
Similarly, the first two chapters could have been condensed into an introduction. Basically, this book was not well organized at all, especially puzzling coming from a “coldly rational” mathematician. Not Bad Reviews blakerosser Feb 24, Elizabeth rated it really liked it Shelves: Easy book to read that addresses mathematical illiteracy or “Inumeracy.
Aug 04, Jonathan rated it liked it Shelves: An easy little read about mathematical illiteracy. The author, it is eventually revealed, was a mathematical prodigy as a child, and still takes immense pleasure in doing things like deftly computing the volume of all the blood in the world in terms of how deep it would fill Central Park, or how fast human hair grows in miles per hour.
He seems genuinely surprised that there might be people for whom these questions are not interesting. He also has some ideas for improving the state of mathematica An easy little read about mathematical illiteracy. He also has some ideas for improving the state of mathematical education, some of which seem plausible and some of which seem downright wacky.
Innumeracy (book) – Wikipedia
For instance, I think we can all agree that math education has been biased towards the rote memorization of formulas and terms at the expense of fluency and “playful” exploration of numerical and geometrical concepts. On the other hand, his suggested solution is hiring mathematicians as full-time staff in every school to oversee the teaching of math and to rotate in as teachers, which seems quite heavy-handed.
The best parts of this book are the bits on probability and patterns. A little discrete math is all it takes to inunmeracy a toolset for evaluating all kinds of claims, and the author’s analysis of the popular pseudoscientific fads of his day are applicable to all sorts of poppycock that happens now.
In the end though, it’s hard to paulo just who this book is for. It feels less like a friendly exhortation directed to pualos mathematically illiterate or innumerate in the author’s parlance than a jeremiad more likely to be read by the literate, explaining why the hoi polloi are so easily duped by cheap parlor tricks. There’s a occasional air of smug superiority, and the author suggests outright that the innumerate students of today are just too lazy to learn about math.
View all 3 comments. Jul 31, TheF7Pawn rated it it was ok. Never judge a book by its cover or, in this case, by its title. The author purports to explain numerical illiteracy “innumeracy” and the consequences of it. However, innukeracy skates joh there to explaining formal logic, probability theory, estimations, critiques of psuedo-science, and then to the reasons why so many people just don’t like math.
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