Maths ideas from John Allen Paulos

Books & Boots

There’s always enough random success to justify anything to someone who wants to believe. (Innumeracy, p.33)

It’s easier and more natural to react emotionally than it is to deal dispassionately with statistics or, for that matter, with fractions, percentages and decimals. (A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper p.81)

I’ve just read two of John Allen Paulos’s popular books about maths, A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper: Making Sense of the Numbers in the Headlines (1995) and Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences (1998).

My reviews tended to focus on the psychological, logical and cognitive errors which Paulos finds so distressingly common on TV and in newspapers, among politicians and commentators and every walk of life for the simple reason that I didn’t understand the way he explained most of his mathematical arguments.

I also criticised the style and presentation of the books which I found meandering, haphazard and so that…

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