A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper Paperback – 1 Apr 1996
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Mathematics is all around you. And it's a great defence against the sharks, cowboys and liars who want your vote, your money, or your life - as Paulos's latest book makes crystal clear (Ian Stewart, author of Does God Play Dice?) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
John Allen Paulos is professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is author of several books, including the bestseller Innumeracy which was a New York Times bestseller for 18 weeks and A Mathematician Plays the Market. He has appeared on many television and radio shows in the United States and has contributed articles to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the London Review of Books.
In 2003, Paulos won the American Association for the Advancement of Science award for promoting public understanding of science.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the introduction, Professor Paulos reveals a long and abiding love for newspapers. And he reads a lot of them. He subscribes to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times, skims the Wall Street Journal and the Philadelphia Daily News, and occasionally looks at USA Today (he likes weather maps in color on occasion), the Washington Post, the suburban Ambler Gazette, the Bar Harbor Times, the local paper of any city he is in, and the tabloids.
This knowledge is reflected in the book's structure. There are four sections, reflecting the typical four section format of many weekday papers.Read more ›
Paulos' highlights the problem that there are often not clear right and wrong answers even in these "mathematical" cases as the way you frame the problem makes all the difference as well as the spectre of complexity. It is a clever book but it seems to lose momentum as it goes on and some sections seem much more a personal I want to talk about this than something directly relevant. There is also a more pessimistic feel than Innumeracy - more of a complaining tone, which is why I gave it a 4 and not a 5.
A worthy read.
From the start, though, one is struck by a very heavy American bias. I think he tries to name drop by using examples of people he thinks his readers will know, but outside of the USA, names of the justices of the US supreme court are not commonly known pieces of trivia. That left this UK-based reader a little nonplussed, as it could have been made far more inclusive.
It's a real shame, particularly as I read through the first part, which was on the subject of politics, its relentless US-centricism detracted from some otherwise very good prose. Paulos doesn't really go into much mathematics here. His focus is more about rational thinking and how that can apply to things of a mathematical nature. So do not expect a particularly pedagogical text or worked examples. Numbers are fairly thin on the ground. As such, some who, like me, picked up the book expecting a book primarily about mathematics might be left wondering if the title wasn't a little misleading.
In truth, it's much more about general rationality than it is about maths. Given the expectations generated from the title, this inevitably left me rather disappointed. I know it was a follow up to an earlier book of his, entitled Innumeracy, which may have been closer to a better title for this work than the one it has.
The way the book is supposed to be structured is meant to roughly mirror a newspaper. So the front part of the book has more politics, the middle is more 'lifestyle' and there is a bit about sports (almost invariably US-based sports) towards the end.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is really quite fun. The setup is a lot of very short chapters that each talk about a different way mathematics can be used erroneously in media, from scare tactic... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Manx_Giraffe
Stretching maths to some very flipant and often silly areas. Can come of with some excellent points and statements but mostly a hard and unfocused read.Published 17 months ago by TheReviewer
I liked this book. Some bits were really thought provoking and made me lie in bed at night, trying to do mental arithmetic. Read morePublished on 6 Dec. 2011 by Amazon Customer
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