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Proofiness: How You're Being Fooled by the Numbersby Charles Seife
Synopses & Reviews
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.
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.
From the author of Zero, comes this "admirable salvo against quantitative bamboozlement by the media and the government" (The Boston Globe)
In Zero, Charles Seife presented readers with a thrilling account of the strangest number known to humankind. Now he shows readers how the power of skewed metrics-or "proofiness"- is being used to alter perception in both amusing and dangerous ways. Proofiness is behind such bizarre stories as a mathematical formula for the perfect butt and sprinters who can run faster than the speed of sound. But proofiness also has a dark side: bogus mathematical formulas used to undermine our democracy-subverting our justice system, fixing elections, and swaying public opinion with lies. By doing the real math, Seife elegantly and good-humoredly scrutinizes our growing obsession with metrics while exposing those who misuse them.
About the Author
Charles Seife is the author of several books, including Sun in a Bottle and Zero. His work has appeared in such publications as Science, The New York Times, New Scientist, Scientific American, The Economist, and Wired. He lives in New York City.
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