Automotive Holiday Deals Books Holiday Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Indie for the Holidays egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty Deals Gifts for Her Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Cyber Monday Video Game Deals Outdoor Deals on HTL

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0385482547
ISBN-10: 038548254X
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Unbeatable customer service, and we usually ship the same or next day. Over one million satisfied customers!
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
131 Used from $0.01
More Buying Choices
19 New from $3.50 131 Used from $0.01 5 Collectible from $4.99

There is a newer edition of this item:

Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Math professor Paulos's irreverent investigation of the often faulty use of statistics and fact in newspaper articles.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


... this book should be mandatory reading for every journalist - as well as the readers, viewers and former tutors they supposedly serve. -- Robert Matthews, New Scientist, 1995

A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper is irresistible. -- Rudy Rucker, Scientific American, 1995

Although the combination of math and newspapers sounds uniquely unappetizing, John Allen Paulos creates a truly thought- provoking book from that mixture. -- USA Today, Best Bet, 1995

But the dirty secret about the media's contribution to American "Innumeracy," first examined in a delightful book by that title by John Allen Paulos, is about to be revealed in his sequel, "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. -- Max Frankel, New York Times, 1995

Even better, Paulos' wit and humor - admirably displayed in Innumeracy - are in top form. His irreverent and pointed comments entertain as well as educate. Though Paulos writes about a bewildering number of topics, he has something fresh and interesting to say about each. -- Charles Seife, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1995

In his new book, the mathematician John Allen Paulos continues his witty crusade against mathematical illiteracy ...... Mr. Paulos's little essay explaining the Banzhaf power index and how it relates to Lani Guinier's ideas about empowering minorities is itself worth the price of the book. -- Richard Bernstein, New York Times, 1995

It would be great to have John Allen Paulos living next door. Every morning when you read the paper and came across some story that didn't seem quite right - that had the faint odor of illogic hovering about it - you could just lean out the window and shout, "Jack! Get the hell over here!"..... Paulos, who wrote the bestseller Innumeracy (the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy), has now written a fun, spunky, wise little book that would be helpful to both the consumers of the news and its purveyors. -- Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 1995

Paulos uses his considerable talents and a breezy style to discuss many ways to apply simple, or at least simply explained, mathematics and logic to analyze the contents of the newspaper. ... the book is a compendium of unusually sound advice, which, if widely read and understood, could improve a lot more for us than the way we read the newspaper. -- Journal of the American Medical Association, 1995

This is press criticism, but not of the usual kind .... This is press criticism of the sort that George Orwell had in mind when he observed that what's important isn't news, and what's news isn't important. ..... This is a subversive book. Paulos argues that the world is so complex that it cannot be accurately described, much less manipulated. ...... a wise and thoughtful book, which skewers much of what everyone knows to be true. -- Lee Dembart, Los Angeles Times, 1995

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (September 26, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038548254X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385482547
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #699,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(My web page is and my twitter feed is @johnallenpaulos.)

John Allen Paulos is an extensively kudized author, popular public speaker, and former monthly columnist for, the Scientific American, and the Guardian. Professor of math at Temple University in Philadelphia, he earned his Ph.D. in the subject from the University of Wisconsin.

His forthcoming book (November, 2015) is A Numerate Life - A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours. Other writings of his include Innumeracy (NY Times bestseller for 18 weeks), A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper (on the Random House Modern Library's compilation of the 100 best nonfiction books of the century), Once Upon a Number (chosen as one of the best books of 1998), and A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market (a brief tenant on the BusinessWeek bestsellers list). He's also written scholarly papers on probability, logic, and the philosophy of science as well as scores of OpEds, book reviews, and articles in publications such as the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Nation, Discover, the American Scholar, and the London Review of Books and has an extensive web and media presence.

In 2003 he received the American Association for the Advancement of Science award for promoting public understanding of science, and in 2013 the Mathematics Communication Award from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
I found Professor Paulos's book, Innumeracy, to be a delightful expression of the key elements of mathematical ignorance that can be harmful, along with many new ways to see and think about the world around. You can imagine how much more pleased I was to find that A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper is an improvement over that valuable book. Every editor and newspaper writer should be required to read and apply this book before beginning their careers. Almost all those who love the news will find some new appreciation for how it could be better reported. Those who will benefit most are those with the least amount of background in math, logic and psychology. Although the subjects are often related to math, if you can multiple two numbers together using a calculator you will probably understand almost all of the sections. If you already know math well, this book will probably only provide amusement in isolated examples and you may not find it has enough new to really educate you. Most of the points are regularly treated in the mathematics literature.
In the introduction, Professor Paulos reveals a long and abiding love for newspapers. And he reads a lot of them. He subscribes to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times, skims the Wall Street Journal and the Philadelphia Daily News, and occasionally looks at USA Today (he likes weather maps in color on occasion), the Washington Post, the suburban Ambler Gazette, the Bar Harbor Times, the local paper of any city he is in, and the tabloids.
This knowledge is reflected in the book's structure. There are four sections, reflecting the typical four section format of many weekday papers.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Exploring once again the numerical ignorance of the American society,Paulos examines serious realities and the potentially harmful consequencesof the lack of a basic number sense in the general population. From supposed experts "explaining" the economy and the recent actions of the stock markets to sheer guesses given as hard facts, so much of our lives is affected by incorrect suppositions. It also points out how many jobs in our society are economically irrelevant in a very real sense.
Consider the section entitled "Darts Trounce the Pros: Luck and the Stock Market," where stocks were picked by throwing darts and the results compared to that of the "pros." Over a six-month period, the choices performed by the random process has a 42 percent gain as opposed to the Dow Jones rate of 8 percent and the experts rate of 2.2 percent. As time went on, the gains tended to move toward equality, but the reality is that those stocks picked by market watchers generally match the behavior of a random selection. In other words, money spent on "expert" stock advice is essentially wasted, with the obvious exception of insider trading.
Economic forecasts are also subjected to a similar investigation. In a convoluted world economy, where the behavior is essentially chaotic, it is impossible to predict what the future behavior will be. Recently, the executive and legislative branches of the U. S. government have been pounding each other over their separate long term predictions of the behavior of the U.S. economy. Such "knowledge" is being used in the attempt to balance the budget of the U.S. federal government.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By on April 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
Althought it took a few chapters to get in to the groove of the book, "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper" quickly drew my interest. Although some topics are repetitive, and at times you wonder what the point is, in essence the author does a good job at teaching us how to understand what we read. Broken down in short (2-3 page) chapters, this book is ideal for people who need something to read for 5-10 minutes - although it is just as rewarding in a longer-term reading session. The use of complex math is limited, and he explains things well - although some may have to re-read his mathematical and logical points to fully understand them. Overall, for people intrigued with logic, mathematics, or understanding how people perceive the world, it's a worthy read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Gibson on February 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a clever and useful book about the foibles in the media's use of statistics, with short primers on complexity, psychology, and probability theory -- and an occasional lapse into philosophizing that ends almost as soon as it begins. Ultimately this book, deliberately written so as to emulate the fragmented, unsustained format of the newspaper, suffers from this very cleverness: no issue is taken up long enough for Paulos to do it proper justice, very much like the newspaper (and television) reporting of which he is so rightly skeptical.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazonian on September 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Should be required reading for journalists, and, since it isn't, the rest of us should read it so we'll recognize how we are being misled by journalists' ignorance.
Using actual stories covered in the various sections of the newspaper, Paulos explains mathematical concepts that should have been considered by the reporter. He says that, in addition to the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How, reporters should ask how many, how does that quantity compare with other quantities, are we looking at the right categories and relationships, are the statistics derived from a random sample or a collection of anecdotes...
One example Paulos provides shows how readers can be misled by numbers, especially if the reporter uses the numbers provided by a biased source. In a story about contamination, suppose a pint of a toxic chemical were spilled in the ocean and the chemical becomes evenly dispersed around the globe. Seems like a minuscule amount of contamination, and not worth worrying about. But, if the ocean water were tested, it would show almost 6,000 molecules of that toxic chemical in a pint of water. Now, it looks like a reason to panic.
Although not an easy read, most of the math is simply and entertainingly presented, and occasional dull passages are short and easily skipped.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: make up companies