Our innate desire for meaning and pattern can lead us astray… (p.81)
Giving due weight to the fortuitous nature of the world is, I think, a mark of maturity and balance. (p.133)
John Allen Paulos is an American professor of mathematics who won fame beyond his academic milieu with the publication of this short (134-page) but devastating book thirty years ago, the first of a series of books popularising mathematics in a range of spheres from playing the stock market to jokes.
As Paulos explains in the introduction, the world is full of humanities graduates who blow a fuse if you misuse ‘infer’ and ‘imply’, or end a sentence with a dangling participle, but are quite happy to believe and repeat the most hair-raising errors in maths, statistics and probability.
The aim of this book was:
- to lay out examples of classic maths howlers and correct them
- to teach readers…
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