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T U E S D A Y
In A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, Temple U. math professor John Allen Paulos preaches to the converted. His analysis of the numbers in the news is sound, but the gap between the accessibility of his overall theme—that you can’t trust what you read—and his somewhat technical explanations (not to mention his occasionally pedantic tone), will lose those readers who could learn the most from his elucidations. Still, even for those who already suspect that statistics in the news are not as clear-cut as they seem, Paulos makes some interesting points, including a discussion of the frequency of false positive results to medical tests; “anchoring effects,” which make it difficult to shift people’s perception of statistics they already believe to be true; and the potential effects of meaningless precision in nutritional information. Paulos discusses his findings at 6 p.m. at the Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, 14th & Constitution Ave. NW. $12. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (James Lochart)