News talk 2014-02-10: Illogical math for students default content graphic

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Students face illogical mathematics in standardized questions
Joe for America ↑

Mike Caro says:

The near-total intellectual meltdown of American society surrounds us. Don’t be swayed by arguments that claim that older generations always said the same thing about younger ones. That may be true, but it doesn’t refute the obvious fact that U.S. citizens (and perhaps citizens in developed nations worldwide, on average) really are getting stupider.

The poor round-off logic cited in this mathematics test question possibly is a good example. But a more powerful example is the frequent use of claims, even in science articles, similar to “contains five times fewer calories,” “a thousand times less massive,” “earning three times less money,” and so on.

What bothers me so much about that isn’t the clear lack of logic in not understanding that “one times” less money is zero, but that if you visit forums where articles using this language is criticized, you don’t see, “Good point.” Instead, you see arguments about why it’s okay to use that wording. Everyone understand it, they say.

But, actually, if people understand it, there’s something terribly wrong happening. There’s a difference between, “I think I know what you meant,” and “it makes sense to me.” So, you’re doomed if you understand “it,” but you’re okay if you understand what was intended by the mistake. This story, in a small way, helps illustrate the problem. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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