Slippery Math in Public Affairs: Price Tag and Defense

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Examines flawed usage of math in public affairs through actual cases of how mathematical data and conclusions can be distorted and misrepresented to influence public opinion. Highlights how slippery numbers and questionable mathematical conlusions emerge and what can be done to safeguard against them. This pragmatic book examines flawed usage of math in public affairs through actual cases of how mathematical data and conclusions can be distorted and misrepresented to influence public opinion-highlighting how slippery numbers and questionable mathematical conclusions emerge and what can be done to safeguard against them. Gives specific examples of governmental and private sector math manipulation. Slippery Math in Public Affairs analyzes the cost of "slippery math" in terms of squandered resources identifies common misperceptions about the role of math in public affairs discusses how math education can be reformed to sharpen public awareness of "slippery math" offers exemplary self-study programs to improve perspective on the use of math depicts the development of math models and their use and misuse considers proper and improper polling methods With nearly 200 references cited, this book will benefit math teachers; educators; mathematicians; applied statisticians; multivariate analysts; biomathematicians and medical personnel; public administrators; political scientists; business administrators; operations managers; urban and public affairs officials; economists; demographers; sociologists; anthropologists; public-policy makers; public affairs analysts and commentators; journalists; and the general reader who seeks to avoid being manipulated by math; and is essential reading for undergraduate and graduate students in the aforementioned disciplines.

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Editorial Reviews

Adams (mathematics, Pace U., NY) takes to task the numbers used by all and sundry to support theories quantitatively. Following a brief synopsis of the use of fabricated numbers by a nonprofit organization, the US Department of Defense, and others, Adams describes various ways numbers are used and when and why we should be wary of their validity. Warily, one wonders why a book that is not on hard math should be so expensive. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780824707903
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Slippery Numbers in the Public Arena 1
1 Boldfaced Lies 4
2 Something's Amiss 10
3 Coming Up with the Numbers 23
4 Political and Ideological Coloring 49
5 Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere 62
6 There's Less to It Than Meets the Eye 72
7 Lessons from Chapters 1 to 6 86
Pt. 2 Math Model Portraits 117
8 What's the Cost of Smoking? 120
9 Andy and Rasa Take Vacations 129
10 Math Model Development 136
11 As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap 146
12 Hyperbole and Hype 162
13 Lessons from Chapters 8 to 12 174
Pt. 3 The Price Tag 189
14 The Numbers You Don't Know Can Hurt You 191
15 Consequences of Math Fiction 199
Pt. 4 Preventive Medicine: Education 211
16 Mathematics Education 213
Epilogue 220
References and Readings of Interest 229
Index 241
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