Academic journal article et Cetera

Mathsemantics -- Mathsemantics: Making Numbers Talk Sense by Edward MacNeal

Academic journal article et Cetera

Mathsemantics -- Mathsemantics: Making Numbers Talk Sense by Edward MacNeal

Article excerpt

Edward MacNeal, a market research consultant specializing in air travel analysis, has served as executive secretary of the International Society for General Semantics. This puts him in a ringside seat from which to observe our many foibles and failings with elementary math. It all started when he and his wife devised a test for job applicants "good with numbers" and found that only about one in four could add 2 apples to 5 oranges and get 7 fruit. The whole test appears in an appendix for those who want a challenge. The discussion is, by design, not "rigorous" in the mathematical sense; instead, its commonsensical and conversational approach makes the most serious material highly readable.

Other books that overlap with this one are John Paulos' recent Innumeracy, and Darrell Huff's classic, How to Lie with Statistics. Mathsemantics shows why we have the problems described in the other two books, and to an extent how we might start avoiding them. MacNeal concludes that our problem is one of adult education; I agree, and further recommend that every teacher of elementary mathematics should be beaten over the head with this book until its contents are fully absorbed. …

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