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The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

Posted June 08, 2017 5:00 PM by MaggieMc

Can you calculate your tip at a restaurant?

Can you do basic addition and subtraction problems?

Can you convert a fraction to a percentage?

Do you know how to take the average of a set of numbers? The median? The mode? Can you do it in your head?

Knowing my audience, a group of engineers and engineering enthusiasts, I suspect you answered yes to all of these questions. But that’s not the answer everyone would give—and that’s not just true of those with lower levels of education.

Recently, I’ve been hearing about the growing “numeracy” problem in our society. According to Alan Smith in his TED Talk entitled “Why you should love statistics,” numeracy is “the ability to deal with fractions, percentages, and decimals.”

Smith deals largely with England in his talk; however, he says numeracy is “not just an English problem,” with the United States leading the way with 40% of young people showing low numeracy skills in an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) survey in 2016.

Now, researchers at the University of Miami are indicating that a poor understanding of ratios impacts everyday life. Evidently, consumers make “poor purchase decisions” when they need to use ratios to assess a product’s value.

One example ScienceDaily gives is that of consumers comparing fuel efficiency of two cars using the ratio miles per gallon prior to purchasing a car:

“They often flub the numbers by incorrectly assuming the mathematic equation to find miles per gallon would be to average the sum of the mileage of both cars and then divide by two, instead of using a more complex equation needed to accurately compare ratios.”

According to researchers, the example above results in only 25-30% of shoppers reaching the correct answer.

Michael Tsiros, a professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, suggests this issue could be resolved by consumers having “ready access to software that calculates ratios.”

Within the context of the numeracy problem, that seems like a cop-out: solving the immediate problem of ratio-calculating errors affecting individual purchases, but not addressing the question of how to make our population better at ratios.

Despite having taken higher level math courses, I can admit to moments of low numeracy—largely because I have access to my favorite “computational knowledge engine” and a calculator. Still, I can’t say I’m comfortable with the situation.

Have you noticed the numeracy problem growing? Or is it, as one reader of Alan Smith’s older reports joked, that this figure is only shocking to the 51 percent—or in the U.S., 60%—of the population with high numeracy?

Image Credits: Alan Smith/Ted and Lane Oak/Unsplash

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#1

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/08/2017 5:18 PM

In the 1980's, A&W came out with a 1/3 pound hamburger at the same price as McDonald's 1/4 pound hamburger, more meat for the buck. It even beat the 1/4 pound hamburger in blind taste tests.

It was not successful because too many people thought 1/3 pound was smaller than 1/4 pound.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/76144/why-no-one-wanted-aws-third-pound-burger

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/08/2017 7:01 PM

That's quite sad, but an excellent example of how targeted marketing needs to take in to account the demographic's perception of the product, regardless of whether or not it is actually factually correct.

I wonder how many Americans were saved by eating less by their poor math skills (I bet it is some small fraction of a percent).

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#27
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 10:36 PM

"...I wonder how many Americans were saved by eating less by their poor math skills..."

Probably bought 2 - 1/4 pounders and actually ate more.

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 12:08 AM

Yea, two 1/4 pounder burgers. I suppose 1/8 pounds of beef is better than 1/4 pounds.

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#3

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/08/2017 7:29 PM

They only have to know how to google it....things have changed...why do you think everybody has a smartphone in their hand? You're comparing yesterday's standards with today's technological reality.... soon we'll be plugged in directly, and school will be a distant memory, as will these archaic ponderings...

http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

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#16
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 9:23 AM

I agree. People grab a calculator for everything. I do a lot of figuring in my head and would come up with the answer and someone else would pull out a calculator and punch it up then say "Yea, you're right." Core Math is another problem. Not only core math but schools only teaching enough to get students to pass state wide Star tests instead of actually teaching them the skill. Our engineers with their Ti-85's, even for basic math problems they always resort to that. They can't come up with .375 for 3/8 at the mere mention of one or the other. People are getting weak in math because we have too many electronic crutches.

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#4

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/09/2017 4:26 PM

As someone with a degree in Math, it is difficult for me to figure out what the reasoning behind this is. I still have no idea.

“They often flub the numbers by incorrectly assuming the mathematic equation to find miles per gallon would be to average the sum of the mileage of both cars and then divide by two, instead of using a more complex equation needed to accurately compare ratios.”

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#5
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/09/2017 4:33 PM

I'm stumped by that one too. If you were comparing two cars with different mileage ratings, you would just compare the numbers not average them. 48 MPG > 23MPG.

Am I missing something? (other than my sanity?)

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#6
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/09/2017 5:24 PM

This sounds like a misprint to me....I took it to mean comparison of their own personal driving habits, miles highway vs miles city(stop and go)....Comparing the 2 averages is what most people would do...

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#9
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/09/2017 9:45 PM

If that's what they are trying to say, then the correct way to treat it is to invert to gallons per mile. Then you can proportionally average them, weighted by miles in the city and country. Then invert the answer to get back to miles per gallon.

You're right, nobody does it the right way.

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#42
In reply to #6

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/13/2017 1:47 PM

I think you're right, that must have been what they were trying to say. I couldn't figure it out.

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#7

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/09/2017 5:25 PM

I don't see it as just a mathematics problem but a whole knowledge base and capacity to learn and then think rationally based on what they learned problem.

Just look at every idiot running their mouth off at some protest saying things so wrong and stupid about what they believe and claim they relate to it's embarrassing to everyone who actually does understand their topics of concern.

I have yet to see one screaming aobut,

Freedom of speech,

Fascism,

racism,

culturalism,

gender equality,

civil rights,

equal rights,

liberty,

freedom,

feminism,

socialism,

democracy,

and so much more that make it so blindingly obviously clear they have no clue what any of it really means and stands for in relation to how and what they are claiming by and for it.

Hell, I think most of them embody the wrong side of their own concerns so uncannily well they should be cutting their own throats in shame just for the true social betterment they claim to be fighting tooth and nail for.

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#8
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/09/2017 6:49 PM

Ah to be young and have a cause....I guess the '60's was before your time, but social protesting was the raves of that time...You give these people too much credit, and take them too seriously, they are joiners that mostly are just there to be part of something that feels good to do, trying to change things for the better....now the reality that they are not, doesn't seem to matter, just the romantic notion that they are is enough...

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#22
In reply to #8

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 6:43 PM

Ahh the 60's, "if you remember them you weren't there" an ex wife.

As for the 60's protestors, they are now in charge of our education system, with the corresponding dirth of results.

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#30
In reply to #8

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 10:15 AM

SE, I for one realize, from experience, just how on point that observation is.

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#10

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 1:03 AM

A couple years ago at our School Board Retreat, a guest speaker told us that smart phones have changed education. He said that we can find out about virtually anything at any time with that little device. So having knowledge will not be as important in the future. What he did say was that solving problems is the key to success in the future.

How much to tip - just use your phone. You don't even need to know that 15% is the accepted standard, since you can get that information in a fraction of a second. The important thing is to decide if the service was good enough to earn 15% or if it was exceptional and 20% is better.

Converting a fraction to a percent? Easy with your phone. The important thing is to know what the percent means and how to compare it to another percent

The present and future are different and we need to embrace these differences. This means that we need to focus on understanding the data and using it to solve problems - something engineers should be good at. We also need to get rid of the idea that being a warehouse of knowledge isn't important, since anyone can find data on the internet.

I'm trying really hard to accept this new paradigm shift.

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#11
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 4:25 AM

Two points, from a health professional's view:

1. Do you believe all you read on the internet? I don't.

2. Do you always have access to a phone? I can calculate the necessary dose of a drug while opening the ampoule with sterile gloves on.

Granted, engineering information on the internet is likely to be more reliable than health information, but in my limited experience there are a lot of places where phones don't work. As for using them as calculators, fat-fingered entry without numerical understanding is likely to produce only fat-fingered results.

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#12
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 8:20 AM

Why type when you can just ask it?...I guess if you don't have a smartphone you wouldn't know that....

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#13
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 8:43 AM

Small problem here. After a period of inactivity my smartphone needs a PIN. It doesn't recognise a fingerprint through gloves, and I'm not going to take my gloves off for either fingerprint recognition or to type a PIN. Incidentally I asked Siri what the dose was for a 70kg person at 1mg/kg. He referred me to "per to mg/kg Converter, Chart .. End memo"

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#14
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 9:00 AM

You ask the wrong question, you get the wrong info....everybody knows that...

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#17
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 11:49 AM

OK, here are the right questions:

1. How do I activate my phone without taking my gloves off?

2. What is the right dose of propofol for a 5kg child?

I await Siri's/Alexa's replies with interest

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#20
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 6:20 PM
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#29
In reply to #20

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 5:05 AM

Sorry, but that does not answer question 1. The phone on the table has gone into standby, and I am wearing gloves. How do I activate the phone without touching it?

You will note that your first reference starts by pushing the home button and the second one requires manual data entry as well.

If I were to have relied on using a calculator and/or a mobile phone all the time I would have been a very slow worker, possibly dangerously so, and also a terrible teacher.

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 10:31 AM
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General. or Open the Display & Brightness menu.
  3. Select Auto-Lock.
  4. Set the sleep timer to your preferred time. never

RTFM....haha

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#48
In reply to #31

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 5:49 AM

OK, so the battery goes flat twice a day instead of once. Or I bring a charger which takes up another socket and gets stolen when I leave the room.

Where exactly are you coming from? What's wrong with acquiring and retaining knowledge and with the ability to do mental arithmetic?

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#54
In reply to #48

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 11:52 PM

What if while entering your data you happen to hit a wrong key?

Your machine, regardless of sophistication will return a wrong answer. If you can't estimate the answer mentally on your own, you could be making a big error.

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#39
In reply to #29

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 9:16 PM

If phone is in an accessible location, push the buttons/tap the icons with pencil eraser or stirring rod.

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#49
In reply to #39

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 6:02 AM

I accept you are trying to be helpful, but no. Pushing buttons with pencil eraser or stirring rod works, but tapping icons with such implements does not work.

In any case, I put my gloves on for a sterile procedure. The pencil eraser and stirring rod are not sterile. If I prod the phone with a sterile instrument it becomes unsterile.

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#44
In reply to #29

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 2:30 AM

Hold on!

My point was that much of the information that we store in our brains may have value to us today (or in the past), but in the future, it won't be very important. This is due to being able to access a world of information in our little mobile device.

The reason I wrote the post, was because of the content of the OP's post. Today's kids won't need to memorize as much as we did and they shouldn't have to. What will be of more importance is how they use the information to solve problems.

In the medical field, at this point and time, you should know the proper dose to administer. In the future, you may not need to. All the equipment in the room, as well as the charts will be "connected". Proper dosages will be listed on the chart (maybe some sort of tablet or even a wall projector). Under/overdosage should become a thing of the past when this happens - another example of how our future will demand less stored data in our brains.

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#53
In reply to #44

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 11:40 PM

Those little mobile devices aren't always available or fully charged.

A younger co-worker used his so much during the day, that by the end of a shift he was out of battery power. I received several communications from him that were incomplete for that reason.

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#55
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/28/2017 6:07 AM

Most times there's enough charge to do a search. In the future, our devices will have better batteries and use less power, so running out of power will be a rare occasion.

Think about this for a minute. The information is sitting there on the internet. What differentiates two "researchers" is how they run a search to find the information, how they "filter" the information to make sure they're getting the answer to the right question and finally, how they interpret the information, so they can solve the problem. The future will reward those who know how to get the answer to the question and to be able to use data to solve the problem. Storing facts in your brain isn't going to hold nearly as close to as much value as it does today.

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#56
In reply to #55

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/28/2017 10:31 PM

There will always be a situation where those devices are rendered useless for some reason or other.

A former co-worker had the motto "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" above his desk.

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#32
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 10:52 AM

Cortana responds to voice commands.

I just asked my phone, "Hey Cortana"

The phone responds, Oh, Hi Michael.

I ask the question exactly as stated above.

Cortana responds with a list of web results about Propofol and a voice that says,

"Propofol should only be administered by a licensed anesthesiologist. Would you like to see some phone numbers?"

Now granted I use Cortana frequently so her responses are fairly complete now and advised by its understanding of what I usually search for and my personal profile which tells Cortana I am not a qualified anesthesiologist.

Cortana is, and I would assume Siri an Alexa are also, "learning" machines that provide better responses the more they are used. When I first started asking Cortana things the answers could be quite comical, but after a year now, it is amazingly accurate.

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#50
In reply to #32

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 6:34 AM

I asked my phone:

"What's the point of having Siri?"

Answer:

"Interesting question"

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#51
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 10:02 AM

My personal take on it is, "Cool!" but not really useful for most things since interacting with a computer or smart phone is a fairly complex process. We just don't realize that it is. Sure, its easy to say "remind me to pick up XX at the store" to your phone and have it then use GPS to remind you of xx when you are at the store. but most of our daily tasks are not as simple and require intrinsic knowledge. This is where Cortana is doing better than the rest.

Still, as time goes on at our current level of development, the real winner in the battle between Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google will be Alexa. The reason for that is that at our current level of development Alexa can actually do something useful since it is connected to a, for lack of a better term, consumer networks where it can easily track your purchases and usage and become fairly helpful in maintaining a house and its necessary supplies or when you see something on tv or think of it out of the blue, and can just say get YY for so an so's birthday and it will select it, have it wrapped for birthday giving ad delivered on that day. all with a simple verbal command. However that simple verbal command has much detail and nuance in it that is not explicitly stated. Information that is based on both knowledge and experience.

It's all just beginning. How long will it be before we do most of our interaction with machine by voice? Probably not as long now as you might think. I forget the name of it, but it is a "law" about technology development and it basically states that once something is deemed financially doable, the progress takes off like a nuclear reaction.

Me, I am looking forward to the day I can wake up, pick up my smart phone and tell my car to go get an oil change and be back in an hour. LoL

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#52
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 12:31 PM

How long will it be until a hacker gets into your Alexa, orders 10000 bricks for the house you didn't realise you had committed yourself to building, directs all the numbers in your phone to the Far East, and wipes your hard drive as an encore?

Meanwhile I will be at work, doing sums in my head.

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#15

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 9:20 AM

I'm a retired electrical engineer who went to college when we only had slide rules. You had to have good numeracy skills to know which end of the "slip stick" to use for your answer. The world is full of examples of poor numeracy skills by people that should have known better. One that immediately comes to mind is the Mars probe that crashed (1999) because one team was using English units and the other metric. I'm still stymied that at one of their joint design reviews someone didn't stand up and say "Wait a minute - something isn't right!" I have a brother who is a CPA who needed a calculator to answer the following question I posed to him: "which is cheaper, a dozen eggs for a $1.20, or 18 eggs for $1.80?"

We need to go back to the math that was taught in primary education before the wave of "new math" began sweeping the nation in the late 1960's/early 1970's.

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#18
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 2:40 PM

Over the years we have learned to rely on calculators to be more accurate than our mental calculations. It has become a habit to just grab our electronic device and punch a few keys and an accurate answer appears. We are creatures of habit.

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#19
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/10/2017 5:29 PM

Correction. We are creatures of convenience.

If we were not none of the things we use and take for granted today would exist and we would still be walking the earth hoping our next meal comes before we become something elses.

We didn't like walking so much so we tamed large animals that could carry us.

They proved to be a labor intensive concept after a while so we went to machines.

Now operating the machines and using what used to be basic sense to operate them is proving too difficult so we are working on making the machines do that stuff for us.

At this rate in another 1000 years or less we will have convinced ourselves out of existence and the machines will be looking at ways to make their life easier by taming animals to to their work.

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#24
In reply to #19

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 7:30 PM

Perhaps we have a habit of seeking convenience.

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#26
In reply to #18

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 9:16 PM

I'll grant you that by using a calculator an answer certainly does appear. However the accuracy of that answer depends on how correctly the numbers were input, and if the right operands in the correct sequence were used. Years ago in the NYC school system, an experiment was conducted whereby HP rigged some of their calculators to give the incorrect response a small percentage of the time. Out of hundreds of students using these calculators in the experiment, only about 1% ever questioned the correctness of the answer displayed on the calculator. I agree with your premise that calculators will be more accurate than our mental calculations, but if you don't at least guesstimate the answer, and blindly accept the calculator's answer, you could be in for a huge surprise.

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#45
In reply to #26

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 2:43 AM

I agree that having an approximate (guesstimate) is important, so you can if the answer the calculator gave makes sense.

I would like to emphasize that those of us who grew up with the belief that knowledge is king, don't want to give up on that belief. We've worked hard to gain all these important facts and information. The smartphone has been a game changer, in that you can find out almost anything in a matter of seconds.

The internet has been around for a while and it's become a much more reliable tool over the years. What has made the internet more "valuable" to us is the smart phone. Before, a Google search could be done from your desktop or your laptop. It was mobile, but you had to set up your laptop, be in a wi-fi hot spot, then you could get the information. Now, you only need to have your phone with you.

If we think about how effective we become when there are no interruptions, then think about how effective the new generation will be, because their brains aren't filled with redundant information. Their brains can be trained to be more creative when solving problems.

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#21
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 1:04 PM

Any task takes a certain amount of intelligence. As machines get smarter, humans get dumber to compensate.

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 6:53 PM

I think you are confusing knowledge and intelligence....

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#25
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/11/2017 7:31 PM

Not dumber, but more ignorant.

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#33

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 11:47 AM

I see a definite increase, not only in the "math" but other everyday things like grammar. I recall when I went to university, some profs said, "you aren't expected to know everything, but make sure you know where to look it up". Of course, some things/formulae you had to memorize for exams as not all were "open book" type. Generally speaking, it should be much easier now with the internet, you just have to know "where to look".

I don't always have a calculator or smart phone close at hand so I can still do the basic math by hand - really old school - pen/pencil and paper. That seems to impress a lot of people, especially the younger generations. One question always arises - "how did you do that?" However,,, the answer is rarely understood.

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#34
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 1:38 PM

One question always arises - "how did you do that?" However,,, the answer is rarely understood.

One of my favorite sayings (on a T-shirt): I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.

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#40
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 9:25 PM

"...some profs said, "you aren't expected to know everything, but make sure you know where to look it up".

Reminds me of my freshman calculus teacher when announcing that our first major test would be "open book" : "A smart man isn't one who knows all the answers, but where to find them, and what to do with them when he finds them."

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/13/2017 12:08 AM

Yea, I quietly laughed when we had an open book test in a lab and someone brought a dozen books in with them. Unfortunately the point of the lab test was proper use of an oscilloscope to probe a circuit and none of the books was a manual. The test time ran out and he hadn't even been able to set up the oscilloscope to perform the measurement.

If you don't know the basics (which was the whole point of the lab test) a book alone won't help, especially if you have limited time.

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#46
In reply to #33

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 2:54 AM

I felt that the 3 most important things I "got" out of college were:

1. How to research properly.

2. How to use the information to solve problems.

3. Confidence - It was the first true challenge in my life that I succeeded at.

Smart phones have made #1 super fast and easy.

That makes #2 much more important for success in your career.

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#35

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 2:00 PM

As a relatively new engineer (4 years out of school), I grew up around calculators and used them very frequently in college. They didn't even teach us a thing about slide rules, although from talking with more experienced engineers, I get the idea that they were a pain in the ***.

Now that I am in the industry, I've found that there are many situations where mental math is a huge time saver. This is especially true with fraction to decimal conversions for drill sizes, etc.

However, I still resort to my calculator for anything even remotely complex or involving multiple steps. Not because of incapability, but to reduce the risk of making a simple mistake that will bite me later on. A few extra seconds to punch in the numbers and be 100% sure always seems worth it to me.

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#36
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 2:06 PM

Some may have thought that slide rules were a p.i.t.a. but, they were a lot better than the alternatives available, such as log tables - something else you have probably never heard of. Remember,,, a lot of the old bridges you cross, buildings you enter, etc. were all designed with either slide rules, log tables, or the very long way of manually doing each and every calculation, and then having someone else check your numbers.

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#37
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Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 2:20 PM

One quick Google search for log tables (had to filter out the furniture for sale) and I can see your point about the slide rule being a much better alternative.

I have an immense respect for the engineers and builders who constructed such amazing things essentially by hand. I'm certainly fortunate to work at a time when complex mathematical tools are so common. And that's without even mentioning simulation software.

It makes me wonder what futuristic tools new engineers will be using when I'm well into my career looking like an old-timer with my TI-89.

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#38
In reply to #37

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/12/2017 4:01 PM

So many tools available these days, especially CAD/CAM. Imagine the draftsmen that used to be employed on the drawing board! Sometimes though, I wonder if even CAD is better or faster. For simpler designs, I still find it faster on the drawing board. (that is probably because I am not very good at CAD as I don't use it much). But I have had the experience where I was told that the designs would take about 18 hours each on the tube and I did them up in about 2 hours each for 18 simple designs using only a straight edge, pencil and my calculator. The printing wasn't very nice looking, but it was legible.

I still think that basic engineering drawing should be a mandatory course (even a short course) for all the new "designers" out there, just so they get an idea of what is required.

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#47
In reply to #38

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/23/2017 3:08 AM

In our Freshman year, we were required to take a one semester Drafting course. Back then, I didn't like the class too much, but I now see the importance. I can read drawings, I can put my ideas on paper and I visualize what the drafter was trying to portray.

I do think it's important, because it's a great communication tool. Yes, engineers should also have a good idea about CAD/CAM, but taking one semester to learn how to draw is just a good idea.

I have an analogy - when programming, we almost never revert to machine code. In our jobs, we're working at a higher level of coding, so why is machine code important? I see it as the nuts and bolts of programming. Understanding where each bit goes is important - how it gets stored in the register, etc. Similar to how physics is important to engineers, even though we are working on things above the level of where did the electron go?

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#43
In reply to #36

Re: The Numeracy Problem is Hurting Our Purchases

06/14/2017 9:28 PM

When Noah landed the ark, he told the two snakes to go forth and multiply. They replied, "We can't multiply, we're adders". So Noah chopped down some trees and sawed them up into logs. Then he built a table, a table of logs. "Now you can multiply!"

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