Headlines in a Math Literate World

Math and statistics are commonly misinterpreted and — sorry, journalist friends — often in headlines. It’s a small space to convey a message and the sensationalist headlines that result may increase readership or, these days, “clicks”. But sometimes they’re just not right.


Ben Orlin at Math With Bad Drawings, sought to draw attention to this travesty with a great series called “Headlines in a Math Literate World”. Some of my favorites are below, but click over to his blog for the full list. And keep these in mind next time you’re skimming the headlines.


Our WorldProposal Would Tax $250,000-Earners at 40%
Mathematically Literate WorldProposal Would Tax $250,000-Earners’ Very Last Dollar, and That Dollar Alone, at 40%


Our WorldLocal Heat Wave Seen as Sign of Global Warming
Mathematically Literate WorldLocal Heat Wave Not Seen as Meaningful Indicator of Global Trends

Our WorldStill No Broad Agreement on Global Warming
Mathematically Literate World*Still 97% Agreement on Global Warming

Our WorldAverage Football Player Earns $3 Million, Lasts 4 Years in NFL
Mathematically Literate WorldAverage Football Player Earns $0 Million, Lasts 4 Years in High School


Our WorldRates of Cancer Approach Historic High
Mathematically Literate WorldRates of Surviving Long Enough to Develop Cancer Approach Historic High

*I made a small correction to the original post here. The latest numbers show 97% percent (not 90%) agreement amongst scientists on global warming.

3 thoughts on “Headlines in a Math Literate World

  1. Love this. Will read headlines (at least in some sources) with an appropriate amount of skepticism. Are you the cartoon artist here, Gail? Pretty good!


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