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.

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Innumeracy is an examination of some of the consequences in everyday life of mathematical illiteracy. These consequences - confused personal decisions, muddled governmental policies, even an increased susceptibility to pseudoscience - are not as visible as are those of illiteracy or general cultural ignorance. Unlike the latter failings, however, innumeracy often afflicts intelligent, well-educated people, the kind of people who can understand the most complicated of legal discussions, the most nuanced of emotional interchanges, but whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of a number or a probability.

Topics addressed include stock scams, parapsychological claims, medical testing, insurance frauds, sports records, sex discrimination, coincidences and chance encounters. Our society would be unimaginably different if the average person truly understood the ideas in this marvelous and important book. It is probably hopelessly optimistic to dream this way, but I hope that Innumeracy might help launch a revolution in math education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for polio.

You can read it in 2 hours. Chances are that they could be among the most enlightening and even profitable minutes you ever spent. So many apparently strange events do, in fact, become all the more magnificent in their not-so-fearful symmetry. John Allen Paulos. Buy Now. All rights reserved. Web Design by Angela Lu. Contact paulos temple.


Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences

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.


John Allen Paulos

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