Proofiness by Charles Seife
The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

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Synopsis

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives.

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything.

"Proofiness," as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.
 

About Charles Seife

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CHARLES SEIFE is the author of Sun in a Bottle and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction book, and was named a New York Times Notable Book. He has written for Science Magazine, New Scientist, Scientific American, The Economist, and Wired. He is an associate professor of journalism at New York University and lives in New York City.
 
Published September 23, 2010 by Penguin Books. 320 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Proofiness

Kirkus Reviews

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Seife favors no party, giving examples of how all segments of the political spectrum deal in bogus numbers when it fits their agenda.

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The New York Times

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Although Seife never says so explicitly, the book’s title alludes to “truthiness” — the Word of the Year in 2005, according to the American Dialect Society, which defined it as “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” The...

Sep 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of ...

Publishers Weekly

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Science journalist Seife (Zero) borrows the title of his book from comedian Stephen Colbert's well-known term "truthiness."

Jul 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of ...

New York Journal of Books

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Seife claims that “It was in NASA’s interest to disregard risks to keep the project alive,” reasoning that “if Congress got wind of just how risky NASA’s human spaceflight projects were, the programs could well have been canceled.” In the case of the manned moon mission, disregarding risks worked...

Mar 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of ...

Dallas News

Instead, Charles Seife, a former mathematician and now journalism professor at New York University, got there first.

Sep 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Charles Seife, who has had enough of this mathematical manipulation, defines "proofiness" as "the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something you know in your heart is true--even when it's not.'' His book is a guide to the many ways numbers are distorted in American life, not jus...

Sep 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of ...

Science News

Or so argues Seife, a mathematician-turned-journalist who tackles some of society’s biggest math problems in his new book.

Sep 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of ...

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