Category Archives: Mathematics

John Allen Paulos, INNUMERACY: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences (1988)

This slender book was first published in 1988 (I have the 1990 paperback edition) and became a bestseller. It was one of the earliest books on the very general theme of how many people don’t understand the world around them, … Continue reading

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L&Qs&Cs: Innumeracy and Covid

Humans are intuitively not good at proportions and other statistical concepts, but those concepts can be taught. They are not, and politicians and partisan news sources use public misunderstanding of these concepts to their advantage.

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Ls&Cs: Two Mathematical Ideas

First: Slate: What Does It Really Mean When a Headline Says “75 Percent of Cases Occurred in Vaccinated People”?, subtitled, “A simple math lesson to calm some of the panic around breakthrough cases.”

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Links and Comments: Science Matters, 18 Mar 2021

Catching up on things that have caught me eye the past week or two. How humans have remade the Earth; about Daylight Saving Time; Dark Matter; How time might flow in two directions; the Nature of mathematics.

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Links and Comments: The Game of Life; Authoritarianism; Conservatives and the Feudal System

NYT, from last week’s Tuesday Science section: The Lasting Lessons of John Conway’s Game of Life. (Print title: “Life, In All Its Glory” with subtitle “Fifty year on, a game still offers lessons about simplicity, complexity and uncertain.”) The article … Continue reading

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John Allen Paulos, IRRELIGION (2008)

John Allen Paulos, Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Hill and Wang, 2008. John Allen Paulos is a professor of mathematics who’s become, over the past three decades, well-known as … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: World Getting Better; Choosing What to Believe; Questions for Atheists; Mathematical Ideas; Trumpian Cruelty

Vox: 23 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better. From 2014, but updated this month. These data echo the theme of Steven Pinker’s recent books. File under: human progress, despite conservative paranoia and fears \\ … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Friedman on historical change, why evangelicals like Trump, Paulos on math and biography, Gawande on science, the case against reality

Today in NYT, Thomas L. Friedman: Another Age of Discovery. Friedman lets Ian Goldin, co-author of a book about the lessons we can draw from the period of 1450 to 1550, i.e. a period of extraordinary change. Then: Gutenberg undermined … Continue reading

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Lying with Phony Graphs

If the anti-abortion anti-Planned Parenthood folks had a case, you’d think they wouldn’t need to lie with transparently inept graphs that misrepresent the actual data. Scroll down on this link to see an actual chart, legitimately scaled, showing the services … Continue reading

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Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong, Post 3

Subtitled: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. Third post (after this and then this) about this fascinating book, an examination of several basic principles (linearity, inference, expectation, regression, and existence) and how they apply to every-day, real world situations, situations that … Continue reading

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