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Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
 
 
Author
Charles Seife.
Publisher Viking  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780670022168
Pages/Publication Date 295/2010
Daedalus Item Code 41014
This item is not available.
Description
According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid—you actually lose IQ points—while the BBC announced a few years ago that no natural blonds would be born after 2202. With a nod to Stephen Colbert's coined term "truthiness," science writer Charles Seife here takes us on a delightful tour of deceptive statistics, cherry-picked data, coincidences, and other examples of how numbers can be used to convince people of almost anything. He also looks at the dark side of such evidence, and how it has been used to topple leaders, fix elections, damage the economy, convict the innocent, and acquit the guilty.

"Seife conducts a thorough investigation into why so many of us find it so easy to believe things that are patently ridiculous. Why, for example, does anyone take seriously the idea that some vaccines can cause autism, or that athletes who wear red have a competitive advantage? It's all comes down to numbers, the author argues, and the ways they can be used to make people believe things that are not true. He introduces us to the concepts of Potemkin numbers (deliberately deceptive statistics), 'disestimation' (turning a number into a falsehood by taking it too literally), fruit-packing (a variety of deceptive techniques including cherry-picking data and comparing apples to oranges), and 'randumbness' (finding causality in random events). He explores the many ways we misunderstand simple mathematical terms—confusing average, for example, with typical—and our natural tendency to treat numbers as truth and to see patterns where none exist. Despite its serious and frequently complex subject, the book is written in a light, often humorous tone."—Booklist (starred review)

 
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