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I finished A Mathematician Reads

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 18, 2000

I finished A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, recommended (in a round-a-bout sort of way) by Jessamyn. It’s an excellent book about how to become better at deciphering what the media tells us about the world. A sample excerpt from the book (reprinted without permission) concerning the leading causes of death in America:

“Heart disease and cancer are the two leading killers of Americans. Of the approximately two million Americans that die each year, for example, almost half die from cardiovascular diseases and about one-fourth from malignancies of various sorts. But accidental deaths - falls, car accidents, drownings, poisonings, fires, gun mishaps, and the like - result in slightly more lost years of potential life (subtracted from the conventionally chosen age of sixty-five), according to the Centers for Disease Control. The average age of accident victims is much lower than that of victims of cancer and heart disease. Along this dimension, AIDS and murder loom ominously as well. For all such circumstances, the number of dead is smaller, but the number of years of life lost is greater.” (pg. 139)

Makes you think about things from a slightly different perspective, doesn’t it? This book is full of stuff like that; I highly recommend it.