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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Prime Example

Here we go again. Another group of concerned citizens has convinced themselves that there is something innately carcinogenic. Not to denigrate the severity of cancer, but seriously , when is this going to end? Whether it's power lines, toxic waste, or irradiated tomatoes, you can be almost certain that the actual statistical effect is no better than chance. This is why I want to become a teacher. The simplest mathematical reasoning could prevent this from happening fifty jillion times a year. I often think that probability should be prioritized over algebra and geometry. The average person can easily avoid using the slope of a line or the parallel postulate, but everyone uses statistics. Every decision we make is guided in some part by our ability to estimate the likelihood of events.

I am constantly hearing phrases like "Isn't that weird?" or "What are the odds of that?" The answers are invariably "Not really" and "Pretty darn good." I completely understand where people are coming from. It's not like evolution has prepared us all that well for this kind of thinking. In fact, we kind of suck at it. That's why we have to be taught the required tools and concepts in school.

Here it is, only my second post, and already I'm ranting. I would like to be able to say this will be an exception, but that would be a lie. I am frustrated with the lack of math reasoning I see in the world around me, and I want to do something about it. Hopefully, I will calm down a bit.

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