- Grade Level: 09 - 12
- Paperback: 180 pages
- Publisher: HOLT MCDOUGAL; 1 edition (August 18, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0809058405
- ISBN-13: 978-0809058402
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences 1st Edition
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This is the book that made "innumeracy" a household word, at least in some households. Paulos admits that "at least part of the motivation for any book is anger, and this book is no exception. I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems to indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens."
But that is not all that drives him. The difference between our pretensions and reality is absurd and humorous, and the numerate can see this better than those who don't speak math. "I think there's something of the divine in these feelings of our absurdity, and they should be cherished, not avoided."
Paulos is not entirely successful at balancing anger and absurdity, but he tries. His diatribes against astrology, bad math education, Freud, and willful ignorance are leavened with jokes, mathematical or the sort (he claims) favored by the numerate.
It remains to be seen if Innumeracy will indeed be able, as Hofstadter hoped, to "help launch a revolution in math education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for polio"--but many of the improvements Paulos suggested have come to pass within 10 years. Only time will tell if the generation raised on these new principles is more resistant to innumeracy--and need only worry about being incomputable. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Our society would be unimaginably different if the average person truly understood the ideas in this marvelous and important book.” ―Douglas Hofstadter
“[An] elegant ... Survival Manual ... Brief, witty and full of practical applications.” ―Stefan Kanfer, Time
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Top Customer Reviews
Lots of good, but could really use a revision or two.
If you are earnestly interested in learning some practical math yet utterly uninitiated in numerical ways this may be the book for you. If, however, you are firmly stuck in your innumerate ways, I doubt that this book is compelling or shocking enough to convince you otherwise. If you are numerate, but curious about how the other half lives, you will need to manage bouts of boredom sitting in the choir while Paulos preaches. I mostly fall into the last catergory, yet I managed to find some revelations and some interesting bits here and there. Also, the author has a friendly, conversational style with a touch of irreverance -- I appreciate that.
Yet I nearly gave up on this book before I reached the halfway point, and I RARELY give up on books. What pulled me through is the author's excellent advice from the foreword: feel free to skip the bits that are too complicated for the novitiate or too obvious for the adept. A generous gift from the author -- take advantage of it and you will enjoy the book all the more. :)
This book focuses heavily on statistics although it does touch on a number of other flavors of math, including fractions and magnitudes. Still, the best concrete examples come from stats, yet I am sure that better books must exist for providing the "gee-whiz! I didn't realize what a boob I was for not realizing X, Y and Z about real life statistics" revelations that may shake the sluggish right brain of the innumerate. This book has the advantage of being thin, though, and it does fit nicely into one's pocket. ;) The book also comments on potential social factors that turn budding math whizzes into the innumerate masses -- I didn't expect it, and it is refreshing.