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200 Percent of Nothing: An Eye-Opening Tour through the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy
     

200 Percent of Nothing: An Eye-Opening Tour through the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy

by A. K. Dewdney, S. Ross (Editor)
 

Acclaim for "In today's world, 'innumeracy' is an even greater danger than illiteracy, and is perhaps even more common. Advertisers and politicians exploit it; intellectuals (self-styled) even flaunt it. I hope that this wise and witty book will provide cures where they are possible, and warnings where they are necessary.

"It's also a lot of fun. I can guarantee

Overview

Acclaim for "In today's world, 'innumeracy' is an even greater danger than illiteracy, and is perhaps even more common. Advertisers and politicians exploit it; intellectuals (self-styled) even flaunt it. I hope that this wise and witty book will provide cures where they are possible, and warnings where they are necessary.

"It's also a lot of fun. I can guarantee that 100%."—Arthur C. Clarke

"Dewdney retells with charm and wit magnificent morsels of mathematical mayhem discovered by his army of volunteer 'abuse detectives.' From 'sample trashing' to 'numerical terrorism,' from 'percentage pumping' to 'dimensional dementia,' 200% of Nothing plumbs the depths of innumeracy in daily life and reveals what ordinary people can do about it.

A rich, readable, instructive, and persuasive book."—Lynn Arthur Steen, Professor of Mathematics, St. Olaf College

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Corporations, special-interest groups, government and the media deliberately misuse mathematics to sell products and propositions, charges Scientific American math columnist Dewdney. In an entertaining, stinging expose, he lashes advertisers, car salespeople, traffic safety officials, mutual fund-managers, lotteries, soft-drink manufacturers and others who pump up percentages and mangle ratios, charts and numerical logic. Aided by scores of examples. Dewdney punctures politicians who doctor figures to serve their purposes, reporters who distort statistics, alternative health practitioners who inflate their claimed cure rates. Happily, readers need only basic mathematics to follow his reasoning. After assessing the shocking ``innumeracy'' of today's students, Dewdney presents a brief self-defense course for readers who want to be mathematically streetwise. Illustrated. (May)
Library Journal
Comedian George Carlin, as the ``Hippie-Dippie Weatherman,'' comments on the media abuse of numbers when he says in his forecast, ``And now for some temperatures from around the nation: 58, 72, 85, 49, and 77.'' Dewdney (mathematics, Univ. of Western Ontario), whose articles in Scientific American were culled for this book, discusses this type of math abuse, as well as ``percentage pumping,'' ``irrational ratios,'' ` `compound blindness,'' ``filtering,'' and ``dimensional dementia.'' Dewdney's approach is similar to John Allen Paulos's Innumeracy (Hill & Wang, 1989) but delightfully more witty. Both books can be considered essential sources on math abuse, but Dewdney's less technical style is likely to appeal more to lay readers. Public school math teachers should also be able to use Dewdney's excellent examples in teaching math literacy. For all public and school libraries.-- Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.
Booknews
The author of Scientific American's Mathematical Recreations series for over eight years debunks a lot of deliberate and accidental misuse of mathematics in everyday life. Among his favorite targets are lotteries, cancer risks, and government finances. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471577768
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
01/28/1993
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.29(h) x 0.79(d)

Meet the Author

A. K. Dewdney, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Western Ontario. Well known for his popular "Mathematical Recreations" column, which ran in Scientific American for more than eight years, he is also the author of several books, including The Armchair Universe and The Planiverse: Computer Contact with a Two-Dimensional World.

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