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Title: Straight Line or Not?

Abstract

Until this spring, I had never heard of the book Factfulness. Then Bill Gates made a big splash in the news by giving each U.S. graduate from college a copy. In reading the book, I found it to be a remarkable combination of hopefulness and commentary about some of our blindspots regarding numeracy, and how we interpret and internalize information in a media-saturated world. If you have not read the book, I recommend it highly—not only for how it can help us think about the world in a more informed and balanced way, but also how it analyzes classic mistakes that we are all prone to. The book describes our instincts to erroneously divide things into groups when distributions are more accurate (the gap instinct), misallocate attention to fear-triggering but low probability events (the fear instinct), plus eight more. But beyond that, Factfulness also presents helpful strategies to tame these debilitating instincts and prevent them from leading us toward false conclusions and perceptions. In this column, I would like to focus on one of these 10 instincts: the straight line instinct, which suggests that we often are tempted to extrapolate patterns with straight lines, when these may not be appropriate.more » Factfulness gives several examples in which incongruous results are obtained, including one that projects the growth rate of newborns unaltered through adulthood and reaches outlandish heights.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1511252
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-18-31110
Journal ID: ISSN 0033-524X
Grant/Contract Number:  
89233218CNA000001
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Quality Progress
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 51; Journal Issue: 10; Journal ID: ISSN 0033-524X
Publisher:
American Society for Quality Control
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING

Citation Formats

Anderson-Cook, Christine Michaela. Straight Line or Not?. United States: N. p., 2018. Web.
Anderson-Cook, Christine Michaela. Straight Line or Not?. United States.
Anderson-Cook, Christine Michaela. Mon . "Straight Line or Not?". United States. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1511252.
@article{osti_1511252,
title = {Straight Line or Not?},
author = {Anderson-Cook, Christine Michaela},
abstractNote = {Until this spring, I had never heard of the book Factfulness. Then Bill Gates made a big splash in the news by giving each U.S. graduate from college a copy. In reading the book, I found it to be a remarkable combination of hopefulness and commentary about some of our blindspots regarding numeracy, and how we interpret and internalize information in a media-saturated world. If you have not read the book, I recommend it highly—not only for how it can help us think about the world in a more informed and balanced way, but also how it analyzes classic mistakes that we are all prone to. The book describes our instincts to erroneously divide things into groups when distributions are more accurate (the gap instinct), misallocate attention to fear-triggering but low probability events (the fear instinct), plus eight more. But beyond that, Factfulness also presents helpful strategies to tame these debilitating instincts and prevent them from leading us toward false conclusions and perceptions. In this column, I would like to focus on one of these 10 instincts: the straight line instinct, which suggests that we often are tempted to extrapolate patterns with straight lines, when these may not be appropriate. Factfulness gives several examples in which incongruous results are obtained, including one that projects the growth rate of newborns unaltered through adulthood and reaches outlandish heights.},
doi = {},
journal = {Quality Progress},
number = 10,
volume = 51,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
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