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Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
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.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published
August 18th 2001
by Hill and Wang
(first published 1988)
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(showing 1-30)
Most of the book is a collection of examples commonly seen in other pop math books: how a particular gambling game or con trick lets the house win most of the time; tricky things about Bayes' Theorem and Simpson's Paradox; how raising the price by 40% and then lowering the new price by 40% does not give you back the original price; the difference between statistical correlation and causation; etc.
I hoped the book would be an in-depth look at where innumeracy stems from and how to prevent it. The ...more
I hoped the book would be an in-depth look at where innumeracy stems from and how to prevent it. The ...more
On page 94, Paulos bemoans the fact that people attribute combination to causation: "...when people reason that if X cures Y, then lack of X must cause Y."
But just a few pages later, on 108, he states: "In short, there is an obvious connection between innumeracy and the poor mathematical education received by so many people. [...] Still, it's not the whole story, since there are many quite numerate people who have had little formal schooling."
For those who are only as bright (or dim) as Paulos ...more
But just a few pages later, on 108, he states: "In short, there is an obvious connection between innumeracy and the poor mathematical education received by so many people. [...] Still, it's not the whole story, since there are many quite numerate people who have had little formal schooling."
For those who are only as bright (or dim) as Paulos ...more
Let's say there was a <1% chance that I would buy an unknown book after stumbling randomly upon it on a bargain shelf (something I haven't done in almost a decade after perusing dozens of such shelves in that time), and then a 30% chance that I would then like that book (giving myself some credit for taste while taking into account the vast quantities of extant crap). Those are two dependent scenarios, meaning I'd have to multiply them to get the likelihood that I ever might have liked this b
...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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, he skates from 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. Although his points are valid, and at times slyly humorous, the tone is at times condescending and and self-pitying. I wanted to like this book but the open
...more
Quick, essential reading.
While it hasn't completely killed my interest in coincidences, it tried valiantly to do so. The author's anger at the popularity of pseudosciences (astrology, mediums, fortune-telling, etc.) comes across pretty clearly, and it's hard not to agree with him. In fact... it's impossible to disagree with him in certain sections, since he's using cold, hard mathematics. (He'd hate that I used the adjective 'cold,' there...)
I don't have much more to say beyond the fact that thi ...more
While it hasn't completely killed my interest in coincidences, it tried valiantly to do so. The author's anger at the popularity of pseudosciences (astrology, mediums, fortune-telling, etc.) comes across pretty clearly, and it's hard not to agree with him. In fact... it's impossible to disagree with him in certain sections, since he's using cold, hard mathematics. (He'd hate that I used the adjective 'cold,' there...)
I don't have much more to say beyond the fact that thi ...more
Моя 2 книжка на англійській яку прочитав повністю.
Вердикт - непогано. Деякі глави були дуже цікавими і змусили здивувати і згадати те, що знав. Інші - не такі цікаві, бо я факти з них знаю, проте написані відмінно. Читається легко.
Рекомендується до прочитання всім, особливо тим, хто все життя жаліється на математику.
Вердикт - непогано. Деякі глави були дуже цікавими і змусили здивувати і згадати те, що знав. Інші - не такі цікаві, бо я факти з них знаю, проте написані відмінно. Читається легко.
Рекомендується до прочитання всім, особливо тим, хто все життя жаліється на математику.
El libro es un compendio de hechos que ya aparecen en otras obras del estilo (el clásico de "has respirado el mismo aire que un personaje histórico", y numerosos juegos de azar explicados). No está mal para leer si no se tiene mucho que hacer, nada más.
Durante todo el libro persiste la sensación de que el autor no pretende llegar a ningún punto en especial. La exposición es clara, eso sí; pero el hecho de que el libro sea tan generalista y no se profundice en ningún tema, teniendo todo el rato l ...more
Durante todo el libro persiste la sensación de que el autor no pretende llegar a ningún punto en especial. La exposición es clara, eso sí; pero el hecho de que el libro sea tan generalista y no se profundice en ningún tema, teniendo todo el rato l ...more
Innumeracy is a great book for the era of Ebola panic (even if it is quite dated). Paulos expounds on mathematical concepts as they relate to everyday life - the true nature of particular risks, gambling chances, and understanding extremely large and small numbers. There are a lot of mathematical puzzles (always fun) and real-world examples of the (mis)application of seemingly abstract concepts. There's also some overlap with Thinking, Fast and Slow regarding cognitive blocks to thinking mathema
...more
In "Innumeracy", John Allen Paulos argues that the level of mathematical illiteracy in the United States is shocking and unacceptable, that innumeracy has real and pernicious negative effects, and that it is promoted by poor teaching.
It's a pity: I share Paulos's love for mathematics, and I agree with the message of "Innumeracy", but I find his approach glib and pompous. At one point he says he finds it hard to write at length, preferring brevity and concision. That's all well and good, but it c ...more
It's a pity: I share Paulos's love for mathematics, and I agree with the message of "Innumeracy", but I find his approach glib and pompous. At one point he says he finds it hard to write at length, preferring brevity and concision. That's all well and good, but it c ...more
Reading Innumeracy is probably most fun for people who already understand 95% of the math Paulos uses. Plus a lot of the examples aren't from current events despite what the back cover says.
I bet a lot of his stated intended audience--innumerates--aren't making it past the first chapter, let alone getting all the way to the end. And the book is only 135 pages.
But if the reader will stick with it, or maybe skip over sections not understood, it's worth the time spent reading. Hey, it's only 135 p ...more
I bet a lot of his stated intended audience--innumerates--aren't making it past the first chapter, let alone getting all the way to the end. And the book is only 135 pages.
But if the reader will stick with it, or maybe skip over sections not understood, it's worth the time spent reading. Hey, it's only 135 p ...more
Do you know the old IT/electronics saying that "only intelligent one understand that 1+1 is equal to 10"? Well you might be forgiven for not knowing binary but the problem of illiteracy and especially mathematical type of it is widespread and frankly speaking quite disturbing. Sure, what would a philosophy student need trigonometric functions or logarithmic smoothing of some multi-variable function for you ask yourself and you might be right, yet the problem persists with even more extreme cases
...more
Jul 28, 2011
Yang Ming Wen
added it
"Why do even well-educated people understand so little about mathematics?", exclaimed the author in the book's introduction. But after some pounding on the question, one could realize that such claim can hardly be valid by definition. After all, how can someone be regarded as "well-educated" if he has not be learned some of the fundamental mathematical principles presented in the book? Thus the question could be reiterated as:
"Why do even well-educated people who understand mathematics, demonstr ...more
"Why do even well-educated people who understand mathematics, demonstr ...more
Until I came in contact with this book, I never knew I could be termed as a “numerate.” Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy And Its Consequences, written by John Allen Paulos, had not only taught me a new vocabulary word but had also shown me an unappealing truth, innumeracy. Innumeracy, “the inability to deal comfortably with the fundamental notions of number and chance,” was the overlooked issue John Allen Paulos presented to me. Personally, I was rejoiced to be able to understand myself bett
...more
An interesting, entertaining, as well as informative book. I don't generally read books about mathematics and the like, but the title of the book was an instant attention-grabber.
There's nothing quite like reading a book for which you are the target audience, because I am indeed, innumerate. As predicted by the author, I'm the kind of person who, when presented with an enamoring mathematical technique, instantly wonders whether or not this would be necessary to know for the quiz.
To me, and man ...more
There's nothing quite like reading a book for which you are the target audience, because I am indeed, innumerate. As predicted by the author, I'm the kind of person who, when presented with an enamoring mathematical technique, instantly wonders whether or not this would be necessary to know for the quiz.
To me, and man ...more
Overall, Innumeracy is a very good book addressing a very important topic, mathematical illiteracy and its consequences. As a professional statistician, I'm not the ideal person to review this book. I want to nitpick at how Paulos expresses certain statistical concepts and challenge nuances in his logic in other sections. I want to complain about how little math and how few numbers the book contains. But if I step back and acknowledge the book was not written for me, I can see that Innumeracy co
...more
This was a very quick read, which is what I was looking for, on a topic that more people should read. In fact, that's the whole point of the book. Paulos provides his case for why the 'innumerate,' that is people who are not mathematically literate in basic principles of probability, statistics, large numbers, etc., should work to become more comfortable with math. He makes a great case for how being innumerate is a detriment in everyday life, and provides easy to understand examples as lessons.
...more
Jun 23, 2016
Dan Richter
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition
Recommended to Dan by:
The Guardian
Shelves:
mathematik
Paulos betont, wie wichtig es ist, ein Gefühl für Wahrscheinlichkeiten zu entwickeln, was natürlich nur funktioniert, wenn man sich mit dem Instrumentarium einigermaßen auskennt. Das Buch von 1990 scheint mir immer noch sehr aktuell, zumindest für Deutschland. Die meisten Schüler begegnen der Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung und dem Umgang mit sehr großen und sehr kleinen Zahlen erst sehr spät – in der 11. oder 12. Klasse. Wenn man davon ausgeht, dass nicht alle Fächer beliebig ausgedehnt werden könn
...more
The author has a hidden agenda, satirically bringing up Reagan in the case of him believing he had the absolute power in making decisions in comparision to the millions of Americans who believe in astrological readings as fact. There is also mention of the case regarding Clever Hans and his horse where it was believed that the horse could count the number of a dice that his trainer threw on the floor, but was actually lead by a gesture his trainer would make. Although I believed the horse would
...more
"The same people who cringe when words such as `imply' and `infer' are confused react without a trace of embarrassment to even the most egregious numerical solecisms." (p. 3)
"Confronted with these large numbers and with the correspondingly small probabilities associated with them, the innumerate inevitably respond with the non sequitor, `Yes, but what if you're that one,' and then nod knowingly, as if they've demolished your argument [about still consequential differences in probability:] with t ...more
"Confronted with these large numbers and with the correspondingly small probabilities associated with them, the innumerate inevitably respond with the non sequitor, `Yes, but what if you're that one,' and then nod knowingly, as if they've demolished your argument [about still consequential differences in probability:] with t ...more
3.5
Very easy read on how the general public just doesn't get numbers and math.
Amazon.com
This is the book that made "innumeracy" a household word, at least in some households. Paulos admits that "at least part of the motivation for any book is anger, and this book is no exception. I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems to indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens."
But that is not all that drives him ...more
Very easy read on how the general public just doesn't get numbers and math.
Amazon.com
This is the book that made "innumeracy" a household word, at least in some households. Paulos admits that "at least part of the motivation for any book is anger, and this book is no exception. I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems to indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens."
But that is not all that drives him ...more
Innumeracy is a strong general overview of basic mathematical principals for any person interested in the subject. It would also be nice reading for any math student, barring the section on pedagogy, which isn't so relevant.
The book's biggest strength is it's perspective. By writing from the position of someone dismayed by a the public's lack of mathematical knowledge, Paulos is able to engage the reader in a polemic against ignorance. The humor gives the reader a sense of "insider baseball," s ...more
The book's biggest strength is it's perspective. By writing from the position of someone dismayed by a the public's lack of mathematical knowledge, Paulos is able to engage the reader in a polemic against ignorance. The humor gives the reader a sense of "insider baseball," s ...more
This book is along the same lines as “What the Numbers Say”, although it wasn’t as engaging. And since “What the Numbers Say” was written after this one, they did build off it, expanding on several topics Paulos touched upon.
Still, Paulos does a fantastic job driving home the need to shake off the shackles of innumeracy and become a numerate society again.
I really enjoyed his discussions of various ways being numerate helps one think clearly and logically and understand the world around us. He i ...more
I've read a few books similar to this one and this has been my favorite so far. It doesn't get too deep into complex mathematics and does a good job of explaining the fallacies people fall for when they can't effectively deal with numbers. For some reason, adults are completely comfortable telling peers that they can't think mathematically but would never admit illiteracy. A culture that doesn't hold a fluency with numbers and math in high regard is one that is likely to be fooled or taken advan
...more
Innumeracy (1988) by John Allen Paulos is a book that laments the lack of math general knowledge in society.
The book looks at how people lack general knowledge about the big numbers about populations and so on and that people do not have the math ability to reason about many probabilities and many numbers in general. Paulos spends quite a lot of time describing how people are not taught to think in terms of magnitudes.
Paulos points out that "I'm terrible at math and or not interested in it" is ...more
The book looks at how people lack general knowledge about the big numbers about populations and so on and that people do not have the math ability to reason about many probabilities and many numbers in general. Paulos spends quite a lot of time describing how people are not taught to think in terms of magnitudes.
Paulos points out that "I'm terrible at math and or not interested in it" is ...more
Some of the examples are a little out of date (Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, for instance...) but I'm finding it very well written and accessible. I would consider myself numerically literate (numerate) but I have not been employing my math knowledge on a daily or professional basis. As such, I don't agree that conceptualizing scientific notation is easier than a number written verbally or in longhand (say, 1,000,000,000,000 versus 1 trillion versus 1.0 x 10^12) but I do believe it's usef
...more
This was my second or third time through this small yet immensely powerful book. This should be required reading for just about anyone, high-school and college on up. It's not about math so much as it is about how we (often erroneously) think about numbers in our everyday lives. If everyone read and absorbed this material, much sensational media about perceived dangers (from sharks, vaccines, GMOs, and so forth) would be met by a much more skeptical audience, one primed to ask substantive questi
...more
This book could easily be a 500 page book. Written by a mathematician, it's up to the point.
It's incredible how much we rely on mathematics in our daily lives yet a lot of us have little sense of it. If you want to get a better understanding of the world you can't afford ignoring mathematics, regardless what your occupation is. Reading this book will not make you numerate, but it will likely convince you why it's important to be one.
We talk probability everyday. I can hardly watch a game of ba ...more
It's incredible how much we rely on mathematics in our daily lives yet a lot of us have little sense of it. If you want to get a better understanding of the world you can't afford ignoring mathematics, regardless what your occupation is. Reading this book will not make you numerate, but it will likely convince you why it's important to be one.
We talk probability everyday. I can hardly watch a game of ba ...more
topics | posts | views | last activity | |
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Goodreads Librari...: ACE for "El hombre anumérico" | 2 | 10 | Aug 01, 2014 11:11AM | |
Atheists and Skep...: Innumeracy | 6 | 27 | May 13, 2013 05:33PM |
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1 trivia question
More quizzes & trivia...
“The nuclear weapons on board just one of our Trident submarines contain eight times the firepower expended in all of World War II.”
—
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“For example, knowing that it takes only about eleven and a half days for a million seconds to tick away, whereas almost thirty-two years are required for a billion seconds to pass, gives one a better grasp of the relative magnitudes of these two common numbers.”
—
3 likes
More quotes…
May 14, 2015 08:28PM