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This title in other editions

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

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Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception Cover

ISBN13: 9780670022168
ISBN10: 0670022160
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades — and shapes — our daily lives.

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers — they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything.

Proofiness, as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.

Review:

"Science journalist Seife (Zero) borrows the title of his book from comedian Stephen Colbert's well-known term 'truthiness.' Seife defines proofiness as 'the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true — even when it's not.' He presents a rogue's gallery of shady figures: Potemkin numbers, or fabricated statistics, such as that a million people attended a rally when the real number is much smaller; disestimation, which means taking estimated numbers too literally, such as census results; and fruit packing, and in particular cherry picking, in which people ignore data that doesn't support their point of view. A central chapter analyzes the 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate race and how the candidates manipulated the vote recount in a complex game of one-upmanship. Seife skewers much of the polling that is conducted continuously nowadays as well as the media's use of the numbers polls spit out. In an important chapter he dissects the justice system's often cynical misuse of data to obtain convictions. Seife presents the material in his typically outspoken style, producing a quick and enjoyable text for his wide base of readers. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"Despite its serious and frequently complex subject, the book is written in a light, often humorous tone....A delightful and remarkably revealing book that should be required reading for...well, for everyone." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Sprightly written, despite its sobering message." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades and shapes daily lives. Proofiness, as Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side.

Synopsis:

An eye-opening look at the ways we misjudge risk every day and a guide to making better decisions with our money, health, and personal lives

In the age of Big Data we often believe that our predictions about the future are better than ever before. But as risk expert Gerd Gigerenzer shows, the surprising truth is that in the real world, we often get better results by using simple rules and considering less information.

In Risk Savvy, Gigerenzer reveals that most of us, including doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, and elected officials, misunderstand statistics much more often than we think, leaving us not only misinformed, but vulnerable to exploitation. Yet there is hope. Anyone can learn to make better decisions for their health, finances, family, and business without needing to consult an expert or a super computer, and Gigerenzer shows us how.

Risk Savvy is an insightful and easy-to-understand remedy to our collective information overload and an essential guide to making smart, confident decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Synopsis:

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives.

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything.

"Proofiness," as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.

About the Author

Charles Seife is the author of Sun in a Bottle and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction book, and was named a New York Times Notable Book. He has written for Science Magazine, New Scientist, Scientific American, The Economist, and Wired. He is an associate professor of journalism at New York University and lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Thomas Kirby, March 3, 2011 (view all comments by Thomas Kirby)
This is a very interesting book, with real-world examples of various forms of statistical and mathematical abuse and tomfoolery. The author picks on both sides, although some readers may think their side was picked on more, but they should take into account who has been in power over the past several years. "Picks on" may be bad wording, maybe "exposes" would be better. Hopefully, after reading this book, you will at least have a better idea of what you need to learn to make informed decisions.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
SawtellGal, September 18, 2010 (view all comments by SawtellGal)
Not sure if it is Chaos Theory fractals meeting Bob Dylan's Answer In The Wind here - but if you need to drink milk by knowing what percentage fat is in it, then who's going to be worried if advertisers and others massage the 'crowd' numbers a little....Maybe this is an opening for a GIS company to run a satellite over an outdoors event and provide an independent verifiable crowd estimate...only hitch is who's going to pay for it?
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(2 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670022168
Subtitle:
The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
Author:
Seife, Charles
Author:
Gigerenzer, Gerd
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Subject:
History -- Philosophy.
Subject:
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Subject:
History
Subject:
Mathematics -- History.
Subject:
Psychology
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
September 2010
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
42 charts and illustrations t/o
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » General
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » History
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » Popular Surveys and Recreational

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Viking Books - English 9780670022168 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Science journalist Seife (Zero) borrows the title of his book from comedian Stephen Colbert's well-known term 'truthiness.' Seife defines proofiness as 'the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true — even when it's not.' He presents a rogue's gallery of shady figures: Potemkin numbers, or fabricated statistics, such as that a million people attended a rally when the real number is much smaller; disestimation, which means taking estimated numbers too literally, such as census results; and fruit packing, and in particular cherry picking, in which people ignore data that doesn't support their point of view. A central chapter analyzes the 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate race and how the candidates manipulated the vote recount in a complex game of one-upmanship. Seife skewers much of the polling that is conducted continuously nowadays as well as the media's use of the numbers polls spit out. In an important chapter he dissects the justice system's often cynical misuse of data to obtain convictions. Seife presents the material in his typically outspoken style, producing a quick and enjoyable text for his wide base of readers. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "Despite its serious and frequently complex subject, the book is written in a light, often humorous tone....A delightful and remarkably revealing book that should be required reading for...well, for everyone."
"Review" by , "Sprightly written, despite its sobering message."
"Synopsis" by , The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades and shapes daily lives. Proofiness, as Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side.
"Synopsis" by ,
An eye-opening look at the ways we misjudge risk every day and a guide to making better decisions with our money, health, and personal lives

In the age of Big Data we often believe that our predictions about the future are better than ever before. But as risk expert Gerd Gigerenzer shows, the surprising truth is that in the real world, we often get better results by using simple rules and considering less information.

In Risk Savvy, Gigerenzer reveals that most of us, including doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, and elected officials, misunderstand statistics much more often than we think, leaving us not only misinformed, but vulnerable to exploitation. Yet there is hope. Anyone can learn to make better decisions for their health, finances, family, and business without needing to consult an expert or a super computer, and Gigerenzer shows us how.

Risk Savvy is an insightful and easy-to-understand remedy to our collective information overload and an essential guide to making smart, confident decisions in the face of uncertainty.

"Synopsis" by ,

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives.

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything.

"Proofiness," as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.

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