The bad news is that, in an age of science, complex financial planning, and competing deficit forecasts to support competing stimulus packages, the average citizen needs math more than ever. The good news, according to this delightful and eye-opening numeracy primer, is that it's all sixth-grade math. Niederman, a mathematics Ph.D, and author of The Inner Game of Investing, and Boyum, a public policy consultant, assert that quantitative competence is mostly a matter of simple habits of mind, including: trust numerical data over anecdotal observations, but always question what the data are really saying; think in terms of probabilities rather than certainties; and make rough-and-ready estimates so your calculations don't go off track. With such rules of thumb and a little arithmetic, the authors illuminate basic ideas about probability, statistics and measuring and comparing numbers. Their lucid, light-handed, equation-free style is based on a skeptical examination of the dogmas of our modern culture of quantity, in which they take a close look at such numerical sacred cows as the batting average, the body-mass index and the wind-chill factor; clarify the math behind public policy nostrums like Social Security privatization and the flat tax; and reveal what they see as the statistical distortions of The Bible Code and the reasons for taking Zagat scores with a few grains of salt. They conclude with some recommendations on instilling quantitative common sense in students (restricting calculators in the classroom is job one). This engaging book is a great challenge to fuzzy math of all stripes.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Heir to John Allen Paulos (A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, 1995), this duo continues the noble cause of dispelling math phobia, especially its application in the vital life-skills department. Quantitative information pervades daily affairs, lending an illusion of precision to personal decisions, especially financial ones, that is often just that, illusory. Is lower-priced car A in fact cheaper to own than higher-priced car B? Rather than regard a number as a totem of truth, Niederman and Boyum campaign to instill a healthy skepticism, born of asking, "To what question is this number supposed to be the answer?" Ladling out humor throughout, the authors point out pitfalls in accepting numbers at face value, illustrating how the entity advancing the number often chooses a measurement favorable to itself, a practice notorious in public policy debate. Deception is not inherently intentional, the authors say, and usually stems from lousy quantitative reasoning rather than from dishonesty. Tilting toward an entertaining rather than a didactic presentation, Niederman and Boyum's wry asides and sports examples enliven their message. Gilbert Taylor
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Forgot if this was any good for the kids, just didn't want this popping up all the time so I decided to review it as average and unmemorable.Published 13 months ago by vinnie
"What the Numbers Say" offers readers an engaging overview of the importance of mathematics and numerical literacy in today's increasingly complex and technologically advanced... Read morePublished on November 5, 2007 by K. Scott Proctor
This is an outstanding book, describing in detail, yet in layman's terms, many of the problems regarding the public's understanding of mathematics. Read morePublished on June 17, 2006 by Charles Ashbacher
In a way, I feel very frustrated with this wonderful book, it remainded me when my father recommended me the 7 Habits of Covey and told me " Its sad I found this at 60 and not a... Read morePublished on June 12, 2006 by Humberto Mejia
For some reason I purchased this book, started reading it, and got side tracked for about a year. At the time that I put it aside I guess it hadden't made a big impact on me to the... Read morePublished on January 19, 2006 by D. R. Pitts
This book should be required reading for every high school graduate in the country. It is full of useful information to expand your numerical thought process. Read morePublished on June 13, 2005 by Aaron D. Mitchell
Various topics are discussed, such as percentages, units and measurements, probability, statistics, etc. Read morePublished on June 30, 2003
This book, by a friend and former colleague, is a wonderful introduction to the ways that numbers are used, and misused, in our work and everyday lives. Read morePublished on June 10, 2003 by Harold A. Pollack