A Numerate Life | Pocketmags.com

Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Upgrade to today
for only an extra Cxx.xx

You get:

plus This issue of xxxxxxxxxxx.
plus Instant access to the latest issue of 300+ of our top selling titles.
plus Unlimited access to 26000+ back issues
plus No contract or commitment. If you decide that PocketmagsPlus is not for you, you can cancel your monthly subscription online at any time. Auto-renews at €10,99 per month, unless cancelled.
Upgrade Now for €10,99 Learn more
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Italy version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Leggi ovunque Read anywhere
Modalità di pagamento Pocketmags Payment Types
Trusted site
A Pocketmags si ottiene
Fatturazione sicura
Ultime offerte
Web & App Reader
Loyalty Points

A Numerate Life

The man who brought us Innumeracy and touted the benefits of mathematical thinking begins his ‘anti-memoir’ by conveying concerns and questions we should have about biographies . . . or our own lives.

Excerpted by the author from A Numerate Life: A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours, published in November 2015 by Prometheus Books.

Whether because of my natural temperament, my training as a mathematician, or a late midlife reckoning and reconsideration, I look on the whole biographical endeavor, my own included, as a dubious one. Even George Washington’s signature line about cutting down the cherry tree, “I cannot tell a lie,” is probably flap-doodle. More likely he said, “No comment” or “I don’t recall the incident” or maybe “The tree was rotten anyway.” I tend to scoff when reading that a new biography has revealed that the great So-And-So always did X because (s)he secretly believed Y. I’m not particularly ornery, but I often react to such statements about the alleged actions or beliefs of well-known people with a silent That’s B.S. A more likely reaction if someone makes the claim directly to me is a polite, but pointed “How do you know that?” or even “How could anyone know that?” or, in the case of autobiographies, “How could anyone remember that?”

Memories are often inaccurate or fabricated, perspectives biased, “laws” and assumptions unfounded, contingencies unpredictable; even the very notion of a self is suspect. (But like the nutritionist who secretly enjoys candy and donuts, I’ve always enjoyed reading [auto]biographies, ranging from James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson,LL.D. to Mary Karr’s Liars’ Club.)

Given my skepticism of the biographical enterprise, it might seem I’ve taken a bold and/or foolhardy step to write a quasi-memoir of my own, but quasi- here means “not so much.”

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer - March April 2016
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - March April 2016
Or 349 points
Getting free sample issues is easy, but we need to add it to an account to read, so please follow the instructions to read your free issue today.
Email Address
Annual Digital Subscription
Only € 3,16 per issue
Or 1899 points

View Issues

About Skeptical Inquirer

Biological Race and the Problem of Human Diversity Skepticism and the Nature of the Mind The Mote in Thy Brother’s Eye Searching for the Yowie, the Down Under Bigfoot ...and much more.