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Real Math ala Paulos

A web site for ABC News has a special section devoted to commentary by John Paulos. In the 1990s, John Paulos made it big time as an Temple University mathematician-turned-author, especially with his sequence of popular books for the layperson, such as Innumeracy, A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, and Once Upon a Number–The Hidden Mathematical Logic of Stories. The website, called Who's Counting, provides a personal forum for Paulos to make commentary on real world events...as if he were writing new chapters for his various books.

The following is only a sample of Paulos' commentary on a wide variety of things:

  1. The misuse of the median and mean in stating the U.S. economy...fuzzy math?
  2. The decreasing utility of money ala the quest to be a millionaire
  3. Misleading probabilities in politics and baseball
  4. Mathematical oddities in affirmative action
  5. The 9-11 lottery coincidence
  6. The calculation of chances for doomsday
If you as a teacher are looking for ways to bring the real world into your classroom, Paulos' commentary is a great start. Read his commentary carefully before you use it with students, as he sometimes shows a bias and can be provocative.

If you need more of the same, you can also check out Paulos' personal web site.