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A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

Book Description

With the same user-friendly, quirky, and perceptive approach that made Innumeracy a bestseller, John Allen Paulos travels though the pages of the daily newspaper showing how math and numbers are a key element in many of the articles we read every day.  From the Senate, SATs, and sex, to crime, celebrities, and cults, he takes stories that may not seem to involve mathematics at all and demonstrates how a lack of mathematical knowledge can hinder our understanding of them.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Preface to the 2013 Paperback Edition
  7. Introduction
  8. Section 1: POLITICS, ECONOMICS, AND THE NATION
    1. Lani “Quota Queen” Guinier: Voting, Power, and Mathematics
    2. Bosnia: Is It Vietnam or World War II?: Psychological Availability and Anchoring Effects
    3. Recession Forecast If Steps Not Taken: Unpredictability, Chaos, and Pooh-Poohing the Pooh-Bahs
    4. Afta Nafta, Lafta; Free Traders Exult: Headlines and the Inverted Pyramid
    5. Pakistan’s Bhutto Gambles in Trade Negotiations: On Dice and Bluffing
    6. Clinton, Dole in Sparring Roles: Who’s News and Grammar Checkers
    7. Iraqi Death Toll Unknown: Benchmark Figures in War, Crisis, and the Economy
    8. D’Amato Agrees Hillary Most Honest Person Clinton Knows: Ambiguity and Nonstandard Models
    9. Fraud Alleged in Pennsylvania Senate Race: Political and Mathematical Regression
    10. Cult Members Accuse Government of Plot: Newspapers, Coincidences, and Conspiracy Theories
  9. Section 2: LOCAL, BUSINESS, AND SOCIAL ISSUES
    1. Company Charged with Ethnic Bias in Hiring: Test Disparities Need Not Imply Racism
    2. SAT Top Quartile Score Declines: Correlation, Prediction, and Improvement
    3. Guns Will Soon Kill More Than Cars: Comparability and Intensity
    4. Abortion Activists Bomb Clinic: Prohibitions and Arithmetical Arguments
    5. DNA Fingers Murderer: Life, Death, and Conditional Probability
    6. Darts Trounce the Pros: Luck and the Market
    7. Cellular Phones Tied to Brain Cancer: Multiplication, Health, and Business
    8. GM Trucks Explode on Side Collision: From Pity to Policy
    9. The $32 Billion Pepsi Challenge: Advertising and Numerical Craftiness
    10. Brief Fads Dominate Toy Industry: S-Curves and Novelty
    11. Area Residents Respond to Story: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
    12. Researchers Look to Local News for Trends: The Present, the Future, and Ponzi Schemes
  10. Section 3: LIFESTYLE, SPIN, AND SOFT NEWS
    1. A Cyberpunk Woody Allen: How to Write a Profile of the Fledgling Celebrity
    2. Tsongkerclintkinbro Wins: Everybody’s Got an Angle
    3. Florida Dentist Accused of Intentionally Spreading AIDS: Rumors, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, and National Obsessions
    4. Interlude: Selves, Heroes, and Dissociation
    5. Candidates Contradict Each Other’s Denials: Self-Reference, Intentions, and the News
    6. Special Investigator Says Full Story Not Told: Compressibility and the Complexity Horizon
    7. Newspaper Circulation Down: Factoids on Tabloids
    8. Computers, Faxes, Copiers Still Rare in Russia: Information and the Commissars
  11. Section 4: SCIENCE, MEDICINE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT
    1. Ranking Health Risks: Experts and Laymen Differ: The Dyscalculia Syndrome
    2. Asbestos Removal Closes NYC Schools: Contaminated Mountains Out of Mole Spills
    3. Super Collider a Waste of Money: Science Journalism and Advocacy
    4. Harvard Psychiatrist Believes Patients Abducted by Aliens: Mathematically Creating One’s Own Pseudoscience
    5. FDA Caught Between Opposing Protesters: Statistical Tests and Confidence Intervals
    6. Senators Eye Hawaii Health Care Plan: Scaling Up Is So Very Hard to Do
    7. Breakthrough Forecast by End of Decade: You Can’t Know More Than You Know
    8. Rodent Population Patterns Difficult to Fathom: Ecology, Chaos, and the News
    9. More Dismal Math Scores for U.S. Students: X, Y, and U
  12. Section 5: FOOD, BOOK REVIEWS, SPORTS, OBITUARIES
    1. 761 Calories, 428 Mgs. Sodium, 22.6 Grams of Fat per Serving: Meaningless Precision
    2. Top Designs for the Busy Working Woman: Fashion, Unpredictability, and Toast
    3. Agassi Wins Again: Scoring and Amplifying Differences
    4. New Survey Reveals Changing Attitudes: Societal Gas Laws
    5. Near-Perfect Game for Roger Clemens: How Many Runs in the Long Run
    6. Bucks County and Environs: A Note on Maps and Graphic Games
    7. Ask About Your Mother-in-Law’s Lladro: Explanations, Advice, and Physics
    8. Garden Club Gala: Incidence Matrices on the Society Pages
    9. Ten Reasons We Hate Our Bosses: Lists and Linearity
    10. Stallone on Worst-Dressed List: Traits and Rates
    11. New Biography Fills Much-Needed Gap: Books and News
    12. Which Way Mecca?: Religion in the Paper
    13. R. L. Vickler, 85, Aide to Truman: The Length of Obituaries
  13. Conclusion
  14. Bibliography
  15. Index