Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fuzzy Math

8 Dead Israelis = 500 Dead Americans (but only 11 Dead in Miami & 0.286 Dead in Madison, Wisconsin). However, Rwandan genocide = 165,000 Dead in Madison, Wisconsin.

Confused yet? Jordan Ellenburg over at Slate discusses the fuzzy math of proportional analogies. It is well worth the read.

I tried the math for Island City, and apparently we're the equivalent of a spilled drink. A spilled well drink.

4 comments:

dadvocate said...

30% of me is confused about 65% of the Slate post. 40% thinks it's kind of humorous and 100% of me gets the point.

ruby booth said...

I remember being in a high school foreign policy class where there happened to be four boys named Patrick. (One of whom, inevitably, was our dear hurricane radio Patrick.) Our teacher, struggling to wrap our minds around the impact of war casualties asked us to imagine losing X numbers of Patricks a day, because everyone in the class was friends with at least one of the Patricks.

Worked for me.

liberalandproud said...

"If you want to imagine eight people killed, imagine eight people killed—but people on your block, not across the world. That computation is mathematically and morally unimpeachable, and no calculator is required." (Slate article)
Amen

Dante said...

"imagine eight people killed—but people on your block"

Do I get to pick the 8? If so, I can live with that.