Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its…

Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences (original 1988; edition 2001)

by John Allen Paulos

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,681284,249 (3.83)32
Title:Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
Authors:John Allen Paulos
Info:Hill and Wang (2001), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos (1988)

Recently added byAlexanderHulpke, JGL53, Lindoula, PaulAndAna, private library, Enoire, bwa32, emilykira

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 32 mentions

English (26)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (28)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
[Update on 9/20/15 Reread: upgrading to five stars and changing "Good" to "Excellent"] Excellent, brief intro to probability, common fallacies of statistical correlation, absurdities of astrology, numerology, and other pseudosciences. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
OK, maybe 1 1/2 stars. I didn't hate it. It just didn't do much for me.

Actually, I finished it, but it was just because the book was so short. I'm not going to count this one towards my goal for this year.

I might have liked this book better if I had read it when it was new. A lot of references and examples were dated 1988/1991.

But the real problem, to me, was that the author was trying to accomplish 2 incompatible purposes, while keeping the mathematics easy enough for the general reader.
1. Keeping things light and pleasant.
2. Arguing his view on various social (and sometimes political) issues.
Even when I agreed with his views, it just didn't come across as light and pleasant.

It didn't help that I was already aware of most of the pitfalls he discussed. I had encountered them in other contexts. So I wasn't learning much of anything.

I may toss the book in the trash. Or see if Half Price Books wants it. ( )
  CarolJMO | Dec 12, 2016 |
4 ILL but no CC
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
It's one thing to continue educating myself with book such as these, and make headway towards being fooled less and less by ridiculous statistics and pseudoscience in general. It's another to have it delivered by a clever, snarky individual to make the reading pleasure even more profound. I seriously enjoyed this one. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
Similar to Charles Seife's Proofiness, John Paulos discuss the devasting consequences of how innumeracy - people's inability to comprehend very large numbers - could be. Innumeracy could lead to susceptibility to pseudoscience. Unlike Seife's book, the quality of this book is severely lacking. Other than the short about the author section indicating that the author is a professor of mathematics, this book does not have a bibliography or an index.

As someone who has background knowledge of mathematics, I was able to understand and appreciate the complexities of the issues discussed. This book could not be assigned to high school students as the language is very technical and heavy with statistics. It is difficult to follow the amount of data given. To a high school student with insufficient math background, this book may as well be written in a foreign language. ( )
  ktnguyen | Apr 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Mr. Paulos is the sort of person who, when he hears that something or other is selling at a fraction of its normal cost, is likely to remark ''that the fraction is probably 4/3.'' He writes that this is often greeted by ''a blank stare.'' He takes it to be one of incomprehension, but a reader of ''Innumeracy'' may suspect behind the look an impulse to throttle Mr. Paulos. Still, there is so much of value in his book that one can easily restrain such an urge. He takes us a couple of steps closer to numeracy, and it is all in all an enlightening place to be.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Allen Paulosprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kousbroek, RudyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Los, BettelouTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prinsen, ErikCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vala, KlausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Sheila, Leah, and Daniel for numberless reasons
First words
"Math was always my worst subject."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0809058405, Paperback)

This is the book that made "innumeracy" a household word, at least in some households. Paulos admits that "at least part of the motivation for any book is anger, and this book is no exception. I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems to indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens."

But that is not all that drives him. The difference between our pretensions and reality is absurd and humorous, and the numerate can see this better than those who don't speak math. "I think there's something of the divine in these feelings of our absurdity, and they should be cherished, not avoided."

Paulos is not entirely successful at balancing anger and absurdity, but he tries. His diatribes against astrology, bad math education, Freud, and willful ignorance are leavened with jokes, mathematical or the sort (he claims) favored by the numerate.

It remains to be seen if Innumeracy will indeed be able, as Hofstadter hoped, to "help launch a revolution in math education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for polio"--but many of the improvements Paulos suggested have come to pass within 10 years. Only time will tell if the generation raised on these new principles is more resistant to innumeracy--and need only worry about being incomputable. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Examines the nation's burgeoning inability to deal rationally with very large numbers, assesses the impact on government policymaking and everyday life, and shows what can be done about this.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
50 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.83)
1 4
1.5 2
2 9
2.5 3
3 63
3.5 20
4 95
4.5 8
5 62

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 118,487,734 books! | Top bar: Always visible