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Why do even well-educated people understand so little about mathematics? And what are the costs of our innumeracy? John Allen Paulos, in his celebrated bestseller first published in , argues that our inability to deal rationally with very large numbers and the probabilities associated with them results in misinformed governmental policies, confused personal decisions, and an increased susceptibility to pseudoscience of all kinds.

Innumeracy lets us know what we're missing, and how we can do something about it. Sprinkling his discussion of numbers and probabilities with quirky stories and anecdotes, Paulos ranges freely over many aspects of modern life, from contested elections to sports stats, from stock scams and newspaper psychics to diet and medical claims, sex discrimination, insurance, lotteries, and drug testing.

Readers of Innumeracy will be rewarded with scores of astonishing facts, a fistful of powerful ideas, and, most important, a clearer, more quantitative way of looking at their world. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Survival Manual Brief, witty and full of practical applications. John Allen Paulos , professor of mathematics at Temple University and the author of several other popular books on mathematics, is a regular contributor to national publications, including The New York Times and Newsweek.

He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Read more Read less. Frequently bought together. Add all three to Cart. These items are shipped from and sold by different sellers. Show details. Ships from and sold by Amazon SG. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Previous page. Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea. A Tour of the Calculus.

David Berlinski PH. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data. Next page. Review "Our society would be unimaginably different if the average person truly understood the ideas in this marvelous and important book. Customers who bought this item also bought. No customer reviews. How does Amazon calculate star ratings? The machine learned model takes into account factors including: the age of a review, helpfulness votes by customers and whether the reviews are from verified purchases.

Review this product Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. I bought this book after it was referenced in the very well-written The Panic Virus Seth Mnookin , which I'd highly recommend. I was curious about a professional's take on math skills in the general population.

There's plenty of good insight and information, but it's like the author couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to rant or educate. He covers a number of numerical fallacies and adds explanations, but often it feels like the explanation would come up short to anyone who really didn't understand the particular issue being covered. I'm quite good with math myself so it was easy for me to follow everything, but parts of the book came off more as a "we smart people get why that's so dumb".

Lots of good, but could really use a revision or two. The author goes through a large number of real-world examples of applied mathematics, that I a retired engineer had thought were like breathing out, breathing in. When I shared a couple of them with my adolescent grand-children, I found some enthusiastic "aha!!

Innumeracy opens your mind and makes you question things you have heard on television and the news. John Allen Paulos, who is fantastically witty, explains complex and simple misconceptions in a manner that almost anyone can understand. Paulos writes takes you back into history with Julius Caesar and brings you back to the present with baseball figures and common mistakes in statistics.

It opens your mind to just what exactly numbers can do and how they revolve around almost every aspect in our lives. Innumeracy makes you look at yourself and others around you and see how understanding numbers can help you improve in numerous ways. Paulos applies mathematics to almost every aspect in life. If you believe you are "not a math person," then this is the book for you.

Using real life examples, Paulos makes you understand why math and numbers are so important. Innumeracy shows how celebrities, presidents, and major politicians use numbers in the wrong way.

It is amazing what you will find out in this information-packed book. From statistics to probability to the multiplication principle, this book has it all and is written in such a way that makes even the most boring subject interesting to any reader. Witty and to-the-point, Paulos writes a book that could change the way people think for the better and most likely improve our society as a whole.

If everyone read this book, it is amazing what the results would be. He takes the most relevant and sometimes controversial subjects and applies them to math while pointing out how some things are not correct at all.

You will soon find yourself thinking twice about saying, "I am not a math person" or "Math just isn't my subject. So many of us are bewitched by sloppy statistics, by flawed procedurals that wind up in the mass media and other lies, some benign, some not, that author Paulos felt this book was necessary. He went on to write a couple more according to the same themes. John Allen Paulos passionately explains in a personal essay the probabilistic nature of life.

He believes that too often people are innumerate and have many misconceptions about math. He enumerates these fallacies in the preface Paulos, xii,xiv : 1. Math is nothing more than computation; 2. Math is a completely hierarchical subject; 3.

Storytelling is not effective as an educational tool in mathematics; 4. Mathematics is only for a few; 5. Math numbs or limits our freedom. Since Paulos studied philosophy as an undergrad and mathematics in graduate school, he respectfully acknowledges the duality of the two disciplines. Throughout the book he makes comparisons such as "The romantics believe that a concern with numbers numbs us to the big questions of grandeur of sunsets and waterfalls" Paulos, Paulos provides real world examples of innumeracy in subjects like stock scams, choice of spouse, newspaper psychics, diet, medical claims, lottery, astrology, drug testing, insurance and law.

At times the reader must patiently muster through detailed proofs. But, don't worry as Paulos promises "there won't be a test" Paulos, xiv. Be patient, just rest and relax while reading "Innumeracy" then will you thoroughly enjoy it. If you are among the innumerate then simply read through the math formulas without a concern for grasping the conceptual depth. John Allen Paulos is flexing his numerate muscles giving Innumeracy greater strength.

The author's aim is to make each of us less intimidated by the numbers. He begins by familiarizing the reader with the basis of counting: how many people are in the US; how many people in the US are under 18, how many die each year; how many cigarettes are smoked each year; and how many words are there in a good sized novel? Many of us believe incorrectly in the magic of coincidences.

However, there are no coincidences instead statistical probabilities. For example in a room of 23 random people - 2 or more will have the same birthday. Another example is the old adage "everything comes in threes" Paulos, Again this is just statistical probability since if you wait long enough things will come in sets of three. Another misconception is the "why me?

Bad things happen periodically, the probability is that they're going to happen to somebody, why not you? The fruitful example the author uses to illustrate this concept is regression to the mean. Regression to the mean is the tendency for an extreme value of random quantity followed by a value closer to the mean. In this case he provides the example of very intelligent people who may have intelligent offspring, yet generally will be more likely to be less intelligent than their parents.

John Allen Paulos has an affinity to number ID over name as a means of identification since no two people can have the same ID number. However, he is appalled by the use of an excessive number of digits. In being numerate one would know that an identification number with 9 digits will have one billion possible different numbers.

Innumeracy covers relative risk, which is a significantly large issue for Public Health and the future of health care. This interesting passage in the book proposes that a logarithmic safety index be used.

In this way we would be measuring the relative safety against the relative danger adding on the likelihood of the endeavor. Innumeracy is not a romantic beach read.

Its meager attempt to be sexy is the argument over the "bell-curve" where "the urge to average can be seductive" Paulos, The appeal of this book comes from the nature of the author's experience in having studied philosophy, literature and mathematics. Paulos is a believer in the human condition, specifically the tendency to want it all. Numeracy will help people understand that there are going to be trade-offs.


Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences

Why do even well-educated people understand so little about mathematics? And what are the costs of our innumeracy? John Allen Paulos, in his celebrated bestseller first published in , argues that our inability to deal rationally with very large numbers and the probabilities associated with them results in misinformed governmental policies, confused personal decisions, and an increased susceptibility to pseudoscience of all kinds. Innumeracy lets us know what we're missing, and how we can do something about it.



Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos. Our Assessment: B- : fun facts and examples, but less than ideally presented. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review 's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.


John Allen Paulos

Innumeracy, the mathematical analogue of functional illiteracy, afflicts far too many literate people, even widely read and articulate men and women who might cringe if words such as ''imply'' and ''infer'' were confused. They generally react without a trace of embarrassment, however, to even the most egregious numerical solecisms. Once I was at a gathering of writers in which much was being made of the difference between ''continually'' and ''continuously. I grant the mistake was not hilarious, but no one even smiled. The recent ''Mathematics Report Card'' released by the Educational Testing Service indicates that more than weather reports are at risk. The rampant innumeracy of our high school students and of the educated public in general is appalling, and since this innumeracy can and does lead to muddled personal decisions, misinformed governmental policies and an increased susceptibility to pseudosciences of all kinds, it's not something that can be easily ignored. I'm not primarily concerned with esoteric mathematics here, only with some feel for numbers and probabilities, some ability to estimate answers to the ubiquitous questions: How many?

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