Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its
Consequences (1988)
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction; Ch 1: Examples and Principles; Ch 2: Probability and Coincidence; Ch 3: Pseudoscience; Ch 4: Whence Innumeracy? Ch 5: Statistics, TradeOffs, and Society; Close
Amazon Review: "Sprinkling his discussion of numbers and probabilities
with quirky stories and anecdotes, Paulos ranges freely over many
aspects of modern life, from contested elections to sports stats, from
stock scams and newspaper psychics to diet and medical claims, sex
discrimination, insurance, lotteries, and drug testing. Readers of
Innumeracy will be rewarded with scores of astonishing facts, a fistful
of powerful ideas, and, most important, a clearer, more quantitative way
of looking at their world."
Back
Cover: "The innumerate will surely
profit from this entertaining book." The New York Times Book
Review
"Why do even welleducated
people understand so little about mathematics? And what are the costs of
our innumeracy? John Allen Paulos, in his celebrated bestseller first
published in 1988, argues that our inability to deal rationally with
very large numbers and the probabilities associated with them results in
misinformed governmental policies, confused personal decisions, and an
increased susceptibility to pseudoscience of all kinds. Innumeracy lets
us know what we're missing, and how we can do something about it."
[Publisher]
"Our society would be
unimaginably different if the average person truly understood the ideas
in this marvelous and important little book."  Douglas Hofstadter
Inside
Front Cover: Praise for Innumeracy
"Paulos involves the reader
in the fun of numeracy in his entertaining, thoughtprovoking book."
Christian Science Monitor
"[John Allen Paulos] takes
us a couple of steps closer to numeracy, and it all in all an
enlightening place to be." The New York Times
"Paulos gives us a readable
romp across a varied landscape... [He] makes numbers, probability
and statistics perform like so many trained seals for the reader's
entertainment and enlightenment." The Philadelphia Inquirer
Reviews
(from Paulos website)
"To combat [innumeracy] John Allen Paulos has concocted the perfect
vaccine: this book, which is in many ways better than an entire high
school math education! Our society would be unimaginably different if
the average person truly understood the ideas in this marvelous and
important book. It is probably hopelessly optimistic to dream this way,
but I hope that Innumeracy might help launch a revolution in math
education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for
polio."  Douglas Hofstadter, author of Godel, Escher, and Bach
This elegant survival manual is brief, witty, and full of practical
applications.  Stefan Kanfer, Time Magazine.
Like carrying on a conversation with an engaging, articulate math whiz
who easily shifts from the profound to the funny.  Christopher Farrell,
Business Week.
Paulos makes numbers, probability, and statistics perform like so many
trained seals for the reader's entertainment and enlightenment.  Jon
Van, Chicago Tribune.
The innumerate will surely profit from this entertaining book.  Morris
Kline, New York Times Book Review.
This admirable little book is only 135 pages long. You can read it in 2
hours. Chances are that they could be among the most enlightening and
even profitable 120 minutes you ever spent.  Henry Kisor, Chicago
SunTimes.
The world, as seen by Paulos, is less mysterious, yet somehow more
elegant, less magical, yet more wonderful. So many apparently strange
events do, in fact, become all the more magnificent in their
notsofearful symmetry.  Arthur Salm, San Diego Tribune.
He takes us a couple of steps closer to numeracy, and it is all in all
an enlightening place to be. Christopher LehmanHaupt, New York Times.
One wonders why no one ever explained it this way before.  Sheila
Tobias, author of Overcoming Math Anxiety.
Innumeracy would improve the quality of thinking of virtually anyone. 
Isaac Asimov
A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper
(1995)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction, (1) Politics, Economics and the Nation, (2)
Local Business and Social Issues, (3) Lifestyle, Spin and Soft
News, (4) Science, Medicine and the Environment, (5) Food,
Book Reviews, Sports and Obituaries.
Reviews (from Paulos web site):
But the dirty secret about
the media's contribution to American "Innumeracy," first examined in a
delightful book by that title by John Allen Paulos, is about to be
revealed in his sequel, A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper.  Max
Frankel, New York Times. 
This is press criticism,
but not of the usual kind .... This is press criticism of the sort that
George Orwell had in mind when he observed that what's important isn't
news, and what's news isn't important. ..... This is a subversive book.
Paulos argues that the world is so complex that it cannot be accurately
described, much less manipulated. ...... a wise and thoughtful book,
which skewers much of what everyone knows to be true.  Lee Dembart,
Los Angeles Times.
.. this book should be
mandatory reading for every journalist  as well as the readers,
viewers and former tutors they supposedly serve.  Robert Matthews, New
Scientist.
It would be great to have
John Allen Paulos living next door. Every morning when you read the
paper and came across some story that didn't seem quite right  that had
the faint odor of illogic hovering about it  you could just lean out
the window and shout, "Jack! Get the hell over here!"..... Paulos, who
wrote the bestseller Innumeracy (the mathematical equivalent of
illiteracy), has now written a fun, spunky, wise little book that would
be helpful to both the consumers of the news and its purveyors.  Joel
Achenbach, Washington Post.
Even better, Paulos' wit
and humor  admirably displayed in Innumeracy  are in top form. His
irreverent and pointed comments entertain as well as educate. Though
Paulos writes about a bewildering number of topics, he has something
fresh and interesting to say about each.  Charles Seife, Philadelphia
Inquirer.
This book will bring a
great deal of pleasure to many  as it did to the reviewer. It is full
of fun, full of information, full of insights.  Peter Hilton, American
Mathematical Monthly.
Although the combination of
math and newspapers sounds uniquely unappetizing, John Allen Paulos
creates a truly thought provoking book from that mixture.  Best Bet,
USA Today.
In his new book, the
mathematician John Allen Paulos continues his witty crusade against
mathematical illiteracy ...... Mr. Paulos's little essay explaining the
Banzhaf power index and how it relates to Lani Guinier's ideas about
empowering minorities is itself worth the price of the book.  Richard
Bernstein, New York Times.
As intriguing as these
examples may be, Paulos' book is much more than an assortment of helpful
hints for news readers. As a lifelong fan of newspapers, Paulos provides
a wideranging collection of musings on mathematics, the media and life
itself.  Jon Van, Chicago Tribune.
To
the rescue comes our hero John Allen Paulos, that mysterious masked
mathematician on a white horse, with his new book, "A Mathematician
Reads the Newspaper." ...If paranoia could be cured by math, Paulos
would be the Jonas Salk of the disease. His dissection of conspiracy
theories is delicious.  Molly Ivins, Syndicated Columnist.
Paulos uses his
considerable talents and a breezy style to discuss many ways to apply
simple, or at least simply explained, mathematics and logic to analyze
the contents of the newspaper. ... the book is a compendium of unusually
sound advice, which, if widely read and understood, could improve a lot
more for us than the way we read the newspaper.  Journal of the
American Medical Association.
... A Mathematician Reads
the Newspaper is irresistible.  Rudy Rucker, Scientific American.
Once Upon A Number: The Hidden Mathematical
Logic of Stories (1998)
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction;
(1) Between Stories and Statistics; (2) Between Subjective
Viewpoints and Interpersonal Probability; (3) Between Informal
Discourse and Logic; (4) Between Meaning and Information; (5)
Bridging the Gap.
Editorial
Reviews
Amazon.com: Mathematician John Allen Paulos bravely bridges the
scientific and literary cultures with this amusing, enlightening look at
numbers and stories. If you think those two things go together like a
"horse and a paperclip," as Allen wryly observes, you only have to look
at phenomena like the Bible codes, the stock market's ups and downs, and
the Clinton sex scandal to begin to understand the hidden bonds between
them. Put simply, mathematics can describe everything that happens, and
everything that happens contextualizes mathematics. In demonstrating
this, Paulos continues the noble numeracy crusade he began with A
Mathematician Reads the Newspaper and Innumeracy. Perhaps the most
compelling thought experiments in the book are those of the statistics
of stereotyping and race relations. Paulos shows, mathematically, that
minority status makes achieving equality extraordinarily difficult.
If you want to keep hold of your comfortable worldview, don't read Once
Upon a Number. But you'll be missing out on an unforgettable reminder of
what chance, coincidence, and odds really mean, along with several
valuable life lessons that may help you understand lost socks, racism,
and mistaken identity. Therese Littleton This text refers to an out
of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly: "This book is not concerned with the history
of great theorems, but with bridging, or at least clarifying, some of
the gaps between formal mathematics and its applications." This
statement of purpose, more clearly than the book's title, best sums up
Paulos's goals in his latest work. Paulos (Innumeracy) insists that
statistics cannot be disconnected from the stories or narrative
contexts  that attach them to the complexities of the world. He
demonstrates this idea through examples including recent controversies
over birth order and the socalled Bible codes. Before we can agree on
the meaning of statistics about birth order, he contends, we must agree
on what the terms involved mean. Is an only child the same as a
firstborn? What about a baby born to a large family but then adopted by
a childless couple? Paulos turns to the Bible codes to demonstrate that
it is the stories we tell about seemingly improbable coincidences,
rather than the mathematics involved, that make them compelling. Not
only are most seeming coincidences of "stunning insignificance," he
explains, but in the case of textual analysis, they are easy to
generate. Paulos shows this by easily locating the names "Bill" and
"Monica" in the U.S. Constitution. The author may occasionally frustrate
readers with an indirect approach, and some sections read more like
trenchant observations than argument, but his sense of humor is always
quite winning. Paulos's insightful and amusing observations on how the
truths discovered through mathematics should be applied to our everyday
lives will appeal to an audience beyond math and science enthusiasts.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. This text refers to an
out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just
Don't Add Up (2007)
From
Publishers Weekly Few of the recent books on atheism have been worth
reading just for wit and style, but this is one of them: Paulos is truly
funny. Despite the title, the Temple University math professor doesn't
actually discuss mathematics much, which will be a relief to any
numerically challenged readers who felt intimidated by his previous book
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. In this short
primer (just the gist with an occasional jest), Paulos tackles 12 of the
most common arguments for God, including the argument from design, the
idea that a moral universality points to a creator God, the notion of
first causes and the argument from coincidence, among others. Along the
way, he intersperses irreverent and entertaining little chapterlets that
contain his musings on various subjects, including a rather hilarious
imagined IM exchange with God that slyly parodies Neale Donald Walsch's
Conversations with God. Why does solemnity tend to infect almost all
discussions of religion? Paulos asks, clearly bemoaning the dearth of
humor. This little book goes a long way toward correcting the problem,
and provides both atheists and religious apologists some digestible food
for thought along the way. (Jan. 3) Copyright © Reed Business
Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Reviews:
“He’s done it again. John Allen Paulos has written a charming book
that takes you on a sojourn of flawless logic, with simple and clear
examples drawn from math, science, and pop culture. At journey’s end,
Paulos has left you with plenty to think about, whether you are
religious, irreligious, or anything in between.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson,
astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History and author of Death
By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries "For years John Allen Paulos
has been our guide for reading newspapers, playing the stock market, and
understanding what all those graphs and charts and formulas really mean.
No one knows how to dissect an argument better than Paulos. Now he has
turned his rapier wit to the grandest question of them all: is there a
God? Those who are religious skeptics will find in Paulos’s analysis new
ways of looking at both old and new arguments, and those who believe
that God’s existence can be proven through science, reason, and logic
will have to answer to this mathematician’s penetrating analysis."
—Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for
Scientific American, and the author of How We Believe, The Science of
Good and Evil, and Why Darwin Matters
"Using the methods of mathematics, reason and logic, Paulos wrestles
religious belief systems to the ground and in the process proves he is
as good a writer as he is a mathematician. The book is short, to the
point and humorous, and God knows, this subject could use more
humor."—Joan Konner, Dean Emerita of the Columbia Graduate School of
Journalism and editor of The Atheist’s Bible
"Another virtuoso performance from a master in the use of mathematics
to explore the conundrums and mysteries of everyday life."Sylvia Nasar,
author of A Beautiful Mind
"John Allen Paulos has done us all a great service. Irreligion is an
elegant and timely response to the manifold ignorance that still goes by
the name of 'faith' in the 21st century." Sam Harris, author of the
New York Times best sellers, The End of Faith and Letter to a
Christian.
Video:
Beyond Belief 2007
(SE2535) John Allen Paulos 14
Beyond Belief 2007 (SE2535)
John Allen Paulos 24
Other books by Paulos:
