All numbers are made up, some are useful: Keeping track of stuff is hard

All the data that we trust and believe on a daily basis, is only accurate in a specific context, at a specific time, and at a specific level. If you dig deep enough, ultimately all of the data in the world that drives major and minor decisions alike is built on wobbly foundations.

https://vicki.substack.com/p/all-numbers-are-made-up-some-are

Why you might be counting in the wrong language

Learning numbers in a European language has probably affected your early maths ability. It turns out there are better ways to count.

So even though we might all be using the same numbers, the words we use may influence how we think about them. They say maths is a universal language, but perhaps that’s not true after all.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191121-why-you-might-be-counting-in-the-wrong-language

Art and reality: How accurately does “Euphoria” portray real teens’ lives? Does it matter?

The central point here is that the show Euphoria inaccurately portrays teenagers’ lives which raises the question: Is there a responsibility that comes with creating artwork? Must it be accurate? Who decides?

The claim that the show is inaccurate is backup with statistics raises the question: How can math/statistics help us acquire knowledge? (or understand reality?)

People’s perceptions of teens’ behaviors seems to be generally inaccurate beyond what this show. If presented with this article and appropriate statistics would people change their mind or perceptions of these issues? I’m not sure that it would which leads us to the question: What is the role of intuition in acquiring knowledge? Can mathematical knowledge overcome intuitive beliefs?

This reminded me of an earlier article from the New York Times:

“The Kids Are More Than All Right”

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/the-kids-are-more-than-all-right/

Where Proof, Evidence and Imagination Intersect

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In mathematics, where proofs are everything, evidence is important too. But evidence is only as good as the model, and modeling can be dangerous business. So how much evidence is enough?

Those mathematicians know to be cautious when working with their models. Because they know that no matter how useful and interesting their model, no matter how compelling the evidence they collect, there might be something out there about elliptic curves that they didn’t quite imagine. And if you can’t imagine it, your model can’t capture it, and that means the evidence won’t reflect it.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/where-proof-evidence-and-imagination-intersect-in-math-20190314/

A Songwriting Mystery Solved: Math Proves John Lennon Wrote ‘In My Life’

Mathematics professor Jason Brown spent 10 years working with statistics to solve the magical mystery. Brown’s the findings were presented on Aug. 1 at the Joint Statistical Meeting in a presentation called “Assessing Authorship of Beatles Songs from Musical Content: Bayesian Classification Modeling from Bags-Of-Words Representations.”

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/11/637468053/a-songwriting-mystery-solved-math-proves-john-lennon-wrote-in-my-life

The 12 Most Controversial Facts In Mathematics

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 7.52.49 PM.png“Mathematics has little surprises that are designed to test and push your mental limits The following 12 simple math problems prove outstandingly controversial among students of math, but are nonetheless facts.

“They’re paradoxes and idiosyncrasies of probability. And they’re guaranteed to start an argument or two. If you’re looking for a mathematical way to impress your friends and beguile your enemies, here’s a good place to start.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-controversial-math-problems-2013-3#-1

26% of people watched fewer NFL games because of Colin Kaepernick?!?! Or is it 3%?

This is an interesting case of how numbers get reported and what they mean. Often the numbers that get reported reflect a desire to grab people’s attentions or simply to tell the story the media outlet wants to tell. If you report 26% or 3% neither one is necessarily lying though the two numbers are referring to two different things. (Here is a link to an earlier post about how an Illinois tax increase was reported)

12% of respondents to a recent survey said they watched fewer NFL games and of those 26% said that the main reason was Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem. How should that get reported? And what impression gets left in people’s minds based on the wording?

Another way to think about it is this: 12% of the 26% who watched fewer games comes out to about 3% of the total number of people who watched football. Hmm. That leaves a very different impression than 26%.

Here is the original, misleading ESPN article whose headline has since changed I believe.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20171611/national-anthem-protests-no-1-reason-viewers-tuned-nfl-games

“National anthem protests were the top reason that NFL fans watched fewer games last season, according to a new survey released by J.D. Power.

“The pollster said it asked more than 9,200 people who attended either one football, basketball or hockey game whether they tuned into fewer games and why. Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason.”

And here is a link to a Huffington Post article discussing the issue with how the numbers are reported:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colin-kaepernick-sports-ratings_us_597a2382e4b02a4ebb73e064