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Why was the scoring system for Olympic figure skating doomed even without biased judges? By anchoring their discussions in real-world scenarios, Derrick Niederman and David Boyum show that skilled quantitative thinking involves old-fashioned logic, not advanced mathematical tools. Useful in an endless number of situations, What the Numbers Say is the practical guide to navigating today's data-rich world. From the Hardcover edition. What the numbers say: Why do the nutritional values on a Cheerios box appear different in Canada than in the U.

How is it that top-performing mutual funds often lose money for the majority of their shareholders? Why was the scoring system for Olympic figure skating doomed even without biased judges? By anchoring their discussions in real-world scenarios, Derrick Niederman and David Boyum show that skilled quantitative thinking involves old-fashioned logic, not advanced mathematical tools. What the numbers say: A better audience for the book might be math educators.

As a teacher, I found numerous examples in the book that will be helpful. Moreover, the last chapter, in which they discuss ways to reform math education, is a gem.

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What the authors are saying is that people need good basic intuition about numbers in order to understand a world that is increasingly dominated by numerical data. The traditional math curriculum tries to prepare a student to study Newtonian physics. Instead, I think that the authors would argue that the curriculum ought to be aimed at enabling a student to understand stock market ratios and statistical research.


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One random note is that the authors attribute the phrase "independence from irrelevant alternatives" to John Nash. I may be wrong, but I believe that it was Kenneth Arrow who brought that concept to the fore. By filling the book with interesting examples that illustrate the type of quantitative reasoning that they consider important, the authors make a compelling case for the math education reform that they advocate.

What the Numbers Say: A Field Guide to Mastering Our Numerical World

However, if their primary audience is math educators, that fact is obscured on the book jacket, which makes the intended audience unclear. Premised on the idea that we now live in a "quantitative information age", in which a person can hardly get through a day without reaching some conclusion based on numerical data, but that most people are poor quantitative thinkers who routinely make poor decisions because they are unskilled in analyzing numerical data, authors Derrick Niederman and David Boyum offer us "What the Numbers Say", a guide to spotting the most common kinds of data manipulation and determining what those numbers really mean.

I should say that you do not need to know any mathematics beyond a 6th grade level to understand this book or to successfully decipher the numerical data that one encounters in everyday life. There are interesting examples taken from the stock market, business world, and current events for every subject that is discussed.


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And the examples don't have a pervasive political bias. In "A Peace Offering for the Math Wars", the authors offer a critique of the current mathematics curricula and the lack of quantitative thinking instruction in U. In the book's last chapter, the authors get up on their soapbox about mathematical and quantitative education in American schools, so I trust they won't mind if I get up on mine. I wholeheartedly agree with most of what they say, but I find the authors' reaction to American students' performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study puzzling.

Boyum to conclude that American students are bad at math and that American schools are bad at teaching it. Americans do better than average. There are always some anglophone nations that do worse and some that do better.

What the Numbers Say by Derrick Niederman, David Boyum | ogozoqosolym.tk

I think the results for American students are rather good considering that we have a significant population of non-native-English speakers in our schools and a very heterogeneous population -culturally, ethnically, and geographically- in general. In any case, the authors acknowledge that "mathematical knowledge and quantitative reasoning are quite different things". So why the fuss? Speaking on another subject, the authors lament the elementary school mathematics curricula, which is full of useless stuff.

That's a hopeless cause, because it doesn't take 6 years to cover basic mathematics.

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So most of elementary school education is filler and repetition -in all subjects. Junior high school and high school mathematics could be improved though. Not really, but at least in theory. There is nothing in a "pre-algebra" class that anyone needs to do algebra; there's nothing in a "pre-calculus" class that anyone needs to do calculus; and there's nothing in a geometry class that couldn't be memorized in 10 minutes. Ditching those courses would allow school systems to require that all students take a quantitative reasoning course and one year of calculus without placing any more burden on students or budgets.

In the meantime, why not design a quantitative reasoning curriculum that could be made available to high school students taking internet or correspondence courses and publishers of homeschooling materials? As for all those students who reach for a calculator when their brain would do just fine See all 10 reviews.

What the Numbers Say

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