Daily Illuminator

April 5, 2011: Statistics, Not Calculus

I was going to call this one "The Best Idea I've Heard This Year," but decided to go for a title that would show up in a search.

Thanks to Brian Sullivan at Northeastern U. for pointing me to this great TED talk by Arthur Benjamin. In a nutshell: Math education in the US leads up to calculus. But almost nobody but engineers, economists, and math professors goes on to use calculus in real life. On the other hand, few students are taught statistics, and that would be useful in daily life. Plus, a lot of things that panic or obsess the American public would lose their power if we actually understood statistics.

 So . . . Watch the clip.

-- Steve Jackson

(Of course, the casinos and lotteries would go broke if everybody learned about probabilities in high school, and the TSA would lose its funding if our elected representatives understood statistics, so probably the Illuminati will kill Benjamin's idea in its cradle. But we can dream.)


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