Numeracy and the Paris Attacks
By David Henderson
One of my pleasures in teaching is learning that students have taken things they’ve learned and passing them on to their colleagues, friends, and families. That happened recently in my distance learning class. A few weeks ago, in a 40-minute section I teach on numeracy, I covered John Mueller’s article in Regulation titled “A False Sense of Insecurity.” I gave some of the highlights of Mueller’s article in a post last month titled “Krugman, Mueller, and McCain on Terrorism.”
Last Tuesday, a student in my class who is in D.C., Ali Nikravesh [he gave me permission to use his name], reported that after the Paris murders, he received an email message prohibiting unofficial travel of DoD personnel to France. He read it and thought it reflected a lack of numeracy and so he emailed a link to the Mueller article to his colleagues and texted the PDF to friends and family. The reaction he got from colleagues and from many family and friends was “I didn’t know that, I never thought of it that way, and that helps.”
I mention their reaction because a common complaint that many commenters have posted on my posts is that “people don’t think that way, people can’t think that way, people are innumerate and will retreat to their prejudices, so don’t bother.” This is evidence that it’s worth bothering.
Update: I corrected the middle paragraph above after hearing from Ali. He told me that he does not have social media accounts.