Final Exam Guidelines MMG525OL01

Final Exam Guidelines MMG525OL01

Originally this was a 25-question online Exam. Yikes! I have replaced it with the following:

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The Final Exam Concerns Innumeracy. No, I did not just make that word up.

Here is a brief definition from Wikipedia (I know we have doubts about Wikipedia but look at the references that follow the article and you can examine the primary sources yourself):

Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences is a 1988 book by mathematician John Allen Paulos about “innumeracy,” a term he embraced to describe the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy: incompetence with numbers rather than words. Innumeracy is a problem with many otherwise educated and knowledgeable people. While many people would be ashamed to admit they are illiterate, there is very little shame in saying “I’m a people person, not a numbers person.” Or “I always hated math”.[1] [2] [3] [4]

Paulos speaks mainly of the common misconceptions in regard to numbers. He looks at real-world examples in stock scams, psychics, astrology, sports records, elections, sex discrimination, UFOs, insurance and law, lotteries and drug testing.[1] Paulos discusses innumeracy with quirky anecdotes, scenarios and facts, encouraging readers in the end to look at their world in a more quantitative way. The book sheds light on the link between innumeracy and pseudoscience. For example, the fortune telling psychic’s few correct and general observations are remembered over the many incorrect guesses. He also stresses the problem between the actual number of occurrences of various risks and popular perceptions of those risks happening.[1] The problems of innumeracy come at a great cost to society.[5] Topics include probability and coincidence, innumeracy in pseudosciencestatistics and trade-offs in society. For example, the danger of getting killed in a car accident is much greater than terrorism and this danger should be reflected in how we allocate our limited resources.

Key points relevant to the Final Exam:

1. Innumeracy is as big a problem in the world as Illiteracy and has just as far ranging consequences. Those who don’t understand numbers, stats and basic probability actually suffer more. They have trouble dealing with modern life (can’t read a bus schedule or fill out most forms that have numbers, etc.).

2. Innumeracy is correlated with pseudo-science (reading the bumps on your head was once considered a science), anti-science (prohibiting scientists from publishing data on Climate Change because it brought down coastal property values. This actually happened in several states) or nonsense masquerading as science (the earth is 3000 years old). This last is a great story, myth, belief system but is not mathematically possible when we have 5,000-year-old trees still living today. Source:

3. Innumeracy affects social policy decision making in ways that are harmful. Now we are getting to the meat of this assignment!

Your task in the Final Exam has 3 parts.

1. Research Innumeracy on your own and provide two reliable references along with a summary in your own words of the findings.

2. Take the statement (#3 above) as your starting point and using the Covid-19 Pandemic, make the case for or against the proposition that “Innumeracy adversely affected the decisions made by many nations but primarily the USA in terms of responding to the Pandemic.” By adversely affected, we mean deaths, economic harm and social chaos. Your (minimum) two-page response must also include quotes by experts, references and supportive statistics and studies.

3. Finally, what should world leaders in general and the USA in particular have done differently if their decisions had been informed by science, math, statistics and verifiable evidence. Did any of the world leaders get it right, based on numeracy? How can we tell? Submit your final paper to the assignment page. Ten points.


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