Proofiness: How You're Being Fooled by the Numbers

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Penguin, Sep 23, 2010 - Mathematics - 320 pages
5 Reviews
The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives.

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything.

"Proofiness," as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Tonstant.Weader - LibraryThing

I would say this is my MUST READ of the year. It's a witty exploration of the many ways numbers mislead us. We are programmed to believe numbers. If someone tells you that x is faster than y, well ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - klburnside - LibraryThing

This title of this book is a play on Stephen Colbert's concept of "truthiness." The author defines proofiness as manipulating numbers to prove something that you know in your gut to be true. Numbers ... Read full review


Title Page
Rorschachs Demon
Risky Business
Poll Cats
Electile Dysfunction
An Unfair Vote
Alternate Realities
Propaganda by the Numbers

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About the author (2010)

Charles Seife is the author of five previous books, including Proofiness and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction and was a New York Times notable book. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, Wired, New Scientist, Science, Scientific American, and The Economist. He is a professor of journalism at New York University and lives in New York City.



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