CHAPTER 1NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS: THE WHY AND THE HOW

STATISTICS AND NUMBERS THAT CONFOUND US

My attitude toward numbers was strongly influenced by having Miss Ball for Algebra in the 10th grade. She was most successful—in turning off any interest I had in numbers! Her stated philosophy was: “Don’t try to understand why. Just do it!” Most of us have run into such a figure at some time in our youth. If we ever thought that there wasn’t much fun in numbers, Miss Ball made sure we forever believed it. To be fair, there were other, kinder teachers who explained reasons and tried to tie mathematics to popular applications. But they were hampered by being required to use textbooks that asked questions such as:

Mary had twice as many apples in her ...

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