The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
By Charles Seife
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670022168, 304pp.)
Publication Date: September 23, 2010
Categories: History & Philosophy
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.
Charles Seife, a journalist with Science magazine, has also written for New Scientist, Scientific American, The Economist, Wired UK, and The Sciences, among many other publications. His previous titles include Alpha & Omega and Zero. He received an MS in Probability Theory and Artificial Intelligence from Yale.
Math is the only truly exact science, but numbers can also be used to fudge and deceive. Author Charles Seife explores the ways numbers can lie in his new book, Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception. More at NPR.org
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"A delightful and remarkably revealing book that should be required reading for . . . well, for everyone."
-Booklist (Starred review)