Saturday, April 9, 2011

200% of Nothing

Dewdney, A.K. (1993), 200% of Nothing: An eye-opening tour through the twists and turns of math abuse and innumeracy. New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Books main ideas/arguments
This book is an interesting look at how math is abused, misused, and altered to fit the agendas of advertising, corporate goals, and personal needs. This book is presents several different found pieces of incorrect mathematics commonly found in our daily lives. These articles were found by “mathematical detectives” to expose those who twist mathematical truths to fit their own needs.
This book could be used as a discussion starter as to how and where math abuse occurs. It could be entertaining to discover the error in each section with students. This could be a great way in which students could become more “street wise” when in comes to mathematics. The distortions range from seemingly accidental to overly bending the truth. This could be used alongside the regular curriculum to sharpen the mathematical understanding of the students. This is mathematics butchered and directly applicable to the lives of the students.
From Lotteries and Lightening
“Does anyone truly understand how little chance he or she has of winning big in a lottery? Private and state lottery corporations, which annually part North Americans from some 30 billion of their dollars, certainly hope not” (28)
This gives explanations to some of our modern day misconceptions. These could be fun problems to have the student try to calculate. This could be a good introduction into probability and statistics.
“In matters of public persuasion, no single instrument is used (and misused) as frequently as polls. To obtain an accurate picture of public opinion, you must take a large enough sample to rule out statistical fluctuations, you must gather the sample carefully, and you must ask the right questions. Experience has show pollsters that missing one of these criteria invites disaster”(38)

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