Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences

John Allen Paulos

Why do even people with high levels of education have such a limited understanding of mathematical concepts? And what are the consequences of our inability to count? In his widely acclaimed best-selling book that was first released in 1988, John Allen Paulos makes the argument that the inability of humans to deal rationally with very large numbers and the probabilities that are associated with those numbers leads to misinformed governmental policies, confused personal decisions, and increased susceptibility to pseudoscience of all kinds. Innumeracy enlightens us on what we lack and how we might address this deficiency.

Paulos covers a wide range of topics in modern life, from contested elections to sports statistics, from stock scams and newspaper psychics to diet and medical claims, sex discrimination in insurance, lotteries, and drug testing. He does this by peppering his discussion of numbers and probabilities with offbeat stories and anecdotes. Readers will come away from Innumeracy with dozens of astounding facts, a handful of potent concepts, and most importantly, a clearer and more quantitative way of looking at the world around them.