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Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical…

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception (urspr publ 2010; utgåvan 2010)

av Charles Seife

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4171845,397 (3.51)9
The bestselling author of "Zero" shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-- and shapes-- our daily lives
Titel:Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
Författare:Charles Seife
Info:Viking Adult (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 304 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception av Charles Seife (2010)


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Visa 1-5 av 18 (nästa | visa alla)
This book starts out feeling much like the book: [b:How to Lie with Statistics|51291|How to Lie with Statistics|Darrell Huff|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1388200174s/51291.jpg|415346]. But as I read more, I realized there is a big difference. How to Lie With Statistics is much more innocent. [b:How to Lie with Statistics|51291|How to Lie with Statistics|Darrell Huff|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1388200174s/51291.jpg|415346] is useful, it tells a person how to understand misleading statistics. This book concentrates on current areas of deception such as swinging elections and conviction of innocent persons. For a basic understanding of what to watch for in statistical claims found in news and articles, I suggest the other book is more useful. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
A marvelous account of how people use numbers to their advantage. With a bit of hand-waving and mumbo-jumbo, you can use numerical data to prove almost anything you want. Bend numbers to your will like Humpty Dumpty with words and you can do some sinister things. The author splits this book into eight chapters with each one explaining how 'Proofiness' is ruining that particular area of inquiry.

The main idea is that humans are bad with numbers. Rather than calculating risk and such things, we are terrible at probabilities and figuring. We tend to rely on rules of thumb and heuristics that generalize far too much. So by attaching a number to something, even if that number is spurious or wildly untrue, it makes it seem true and hard to dispose of. The book starts with a relatively old example; remember the McCarthy trials of the 1950s? Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin pulled a number out of his ass that he said represented the number of Communist spies in the State Department and claimed to have proof. The number gave the claim credence and seemed true, but was not. This began the Red Scare or it could have just been a part of it. Another example given is that of the Subprime mortgage lending bubble. Since humans are bad with risk, there are people that take advantage of that fact and sell bad stocks and stakes in companies.

So anyway, I thought this book was great. It went by very quickly and was quite fascinating. It was also aggravating, since a lot of this 'Proofiness' results in unfair things happening. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
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, that could be debatable. But if they tell you that x is 3 times faster than y, we accept it. We even accept people telling us that this group of people is 2 times happier than that group when happiness is something we don't even know how to measure. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but a number will make us swallow anything.

Seife explores the many forms of mathematical fallacies that trap us and gives them clever names such as randumbness and causistry (a mathematical casuistry) and many others. He uses current and historical examples of proofiness and demonstrates again and again and again who the use and abuse of numbers and our credulous acceptance of numerical propaganda is damaging our lives, our health and our democracy.

I loved Seife's early book, Zero, Biography of an Idea. This book brought less joy as some of the examples are infuriating, but he still has a clever and light touch that makes books about math easy and interesting.

I must confess, though, that his information on the derailing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1982 left me stunned and seething. To keep the story to its most basic level, fraudulent test results were knowingly cooked up and released by a hawkish neocon in the Reagan White House to a complicit and equally hawkish NYT reporter. The false data was successful in derailing the treaty (which remains stalled to this day) but subsequently it was proved that not only was the data false, but it was deliberately and knowingly falsified for the specific purpose of breaking down the peace talks.

I have to ask if it would have made a difference 20 years later when the case for the Iraq War was being made if it were widely known that the 1982 leaker was Richard Perle and the conniving and complicit reporter responsible for the false stories that derailed the treaty was Judith Miller. Why were they able to say anything that anyone anywhere would take seriously? Why, when there were questions about the accuracy of the WMD stories did not one say RICHARD PERLE AND JUDITH MILLER LIED IN 1982? Did no one think that was relevant?

( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Nov 22, 2015 |
A leftist slanted liberal rant about the unfairness of life. Some very interesting technical explanations of polling, voting schemes, statistical error, court systems, and census techniques. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
Visa 1-5 av 18 (nästa | visa alla)
A few other recent books have explored how easily we can be deceived — or deceive ourselves — with numbers. But “Proofiness” reveals the truly corrosive effects on a society awash in numerical mendacity. This is more than a math book; it’s an eye-opening civics lesson.
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The bestselling author of "Zero" shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-- and shapes-- our daily lives

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