A Random Miscellany of Writings

These more or less random selections will be supplemented from time to time whenever the recurrent byte shortages that plague the Philadelphia area allow.

(All writings are copyrighted by John Allen Paulos)

"John Allen Paulos is one of the greatest mathematical storytellers of all time, one of those rare individuals who can quite beautifully use the medium of story to communicate math and statistics. In this immensely entertaining work (Once Upon A Number), he also does the reverse: he uses the medium of math (and statistics) to tell us about the medium of story. Each of his insights and one-liners is great and together they offer a profound, new view of the relation between math and stories."
— Doron Zeilberger, winner, Steele prize in mathematics and the Euler medal
Archive of My Who’s Counting columns (more than 100 columns) on ABCNews.com Counting On Dyscalculia in Discover Magazine The Math of Romantic Crushes in The New York Times Monty Hall Revisited on ABCNews.com Evolution and the Development Of Complexity In Economics And Biology in The Guardian
"If you've ever wanted to recapture that sense of near-mystical rapture, there is no better place than this book (Beyond Numeracy), and no more humane and enthusiastic mentor than John Allen Paulos ..... Paulos painstakingly presents even the most recondite ideas in concrete, easily visualizable terms. ..... But Paulos's principal genius lies in the recognition that many of those humans are "unknowing mathophiles" who "have been thinking math all their lives without realizing it." For those, for anyone, who ever sat rapt at the austere beauty of a proof and later wondered where the wonder went, it's here."
— Curt Suplee. Washington Post

"The world, as seen by Paulos (in Innumeracy), is less mysterious, yet somehow more elegant, less magical, yet more wonderful. So many apparently strange events do, in fact, become all the more magnificent in their not-so-fearful symmetry."
— Arthur Salm, San Diego Tribune
Why Don’t Americans Elect Scientists in The New York Times Mammogram Math in The New York Times Magazine Metric Mania in The New York Times Magazine It Was Easy to Show How Much BP Oil Spilled on ABCNews.com Review of Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise in The Washington Post
"It would be great to have John Allen Paulos living next door. Every morning when you read the paper and came across some story that didn't seem quite right - that had the faint odor of illogic hovering about it - you could just lean out the window and shout, "Jack! Get the hell over here!"..... Paulos, who wrote the bestseller Innumeracy (the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy), has now written a fun, spunky, wise little book (A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper) that would be helpful to both the consumers of the news and its purveyors."
— Joel Achenbach, Washington Post
Stories vs. Statistics, an Opinionator piece in The New York Times Review of He Conquered the Conjecture (on Grigory Perelman and the Poincare conjecture) in the New York Review of Books Review of Infinitesimal in The New York Times The Nonsense of Numerology During 9-11 on ABCNews.com Ruminations on the Gore-Bush Tie in Florida In 2000 in The Philadelphia Daily News
"(In Innumeracy) Paulos makes numbers, probability, and statistics perform like so many trained seals for the reader's entertainment and enlightenment."
— Jon Van, Chicago Tribune

"(Throughout I Think, Therefore I Laugh) Paulos is brilliant at capturing difficult ideas in a memorable joke. I've never laughed so much while thinking so hard."
— Brian Butterworth, author of What Counts: How Every Brain Is Hardwired for Math.

"Many scholars nowadays write seriously about the ludicrous. Some merely manage to be dull. A few - like Paulos - are brilliant in an odd endeavor (Mathematics and Humor)."
— Harvey Mindess, Los Angeles Times
Groucho Meets Russell, from I Think, Therefore I Laugh A New Biblical Hoax, from Once Upon a Number We're Measuring Bacteria With A Yardstick, in The New York Times A Self-Referential Parable, from Once Upon a Number Tsongkerclintkinbro Wins, in The New York Times
"His brief essays are arranged alphabetically by topic, and as with one of its precursors, Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, it makes for an often jolly little book (Beyond Numeracy). ... The lore has it that when Pythagoras discovered his great theorem on right triangles, he was so transported that he sacrificed 100 head of oxen to the gods as a token of gratitude. On this scale, Mr. Paulos's book is surely worth an ox or two."
— Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal
Where Mathematics Comes From, American Scholar Fractal Nature Of Human Consciousness, from Beyond Numeracy O.J. Simpson - Murder He Wrote, Philadelphia Inquirer Irreligion - Why The Arguments For God Just Don't Add Up reviews of Irreligion
"Paulos' goal is nothing less than lofty. He hopes to reconcile the personal aspect of human life, which refers to the stories we tell and live by, and the impersonal, which is essentially mathematical, statistical and scientific. ... Both delightful and wise, this little book (Once Upon a Number) cries out to be kept close at hand, to be looked into from time to time, to be treasured as an old friend."
— Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times
Mathematics And The Unabomber, in The New York Times Review Of Stephen Gould's Full House, in The Washington Post Remembrance Of Innumeracies Past, from Innumeracy Review Of Quantification Of Western Society, The Los Angeles Times
"To combat [innumeracy] John Allen Paulos has concocted the perfect vaccine: this book, which is in many ways better than an entire high school math education! Our society would be unimaginably different if the average person truly understood the ideas in this marvelous and important book. It is probably hopelessly optimistic to dream this way, but I hope that Innumeracy might help launch a revolution in math education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for polio."
— Douglas Hofstadter, author of Godel, Escher, and Bach
Review Of Arthur Clarke's 3001, The New York Times A Math Quiz for Presidential Candidates on ABCNews.com Math Moron Myths, The New York Times Computation Versus Understanding?, Forbes Magazine Sexual Codes In U.S. Constitution, from Once Upon a Number
"He's done it again. John Allen Paulos has written a charming book (Irreligion) that takes you on a sojourn of flawless logic, with simple and clear examples drawn from math, science, and pop culture. At journey's end, Paulos has left you with plenty to think about, whether you are religious, irreligious, or anything in between."
— Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History and author of Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries
12 Irreligious Questions For The Presidential Candidates on ABCnews.com Dick Cheney's 1% Solution on ABCNews.com Wittgenstein and Lewis Carroll, from Mathematics and Humor Final Tallies Minus Exit Polls – A Statistical Mystery in the Philadelphia Daily News Ramsey Order & Self-Organization on ABCNews.com
"This is press criticism, but not of the usual kind .... This is press criticism of the sort that George Orwell had in mind when he observed that what's important isn't news, and what's news isn't important. ..... This is a subversive book. Paulos argues that the world is so complex that it cannot be accurately described, much less manipulated. ...... a wise and thoughtful book (A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper) , which skewers much of what everyone knows to be true."
— Lee Dembart, Los Angeles Times
Creationist Probability Mistakes on ABCNews.com An Abortion Reductio Ad Absurdum on ABCNews.com Review Of Erdos, Nash Biographies, The Los Angeles Times Lanchester’s Law and the Misguided (Putting It Kindly) Iraq War on ABCNews.com Review of the Theory That Would Not Die in The New York Times
"Paulos is the real McCoy, and his newest offering, A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market, is a double-chocolate nougat of a book - a rich, densely packed delight. It is also rueful, funny and disarmingly personal."
— Kai Maristed, Los Angeles Times
A Market Paradox, Wall Street Journal, adapted from A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market American Sucker, in The Los Angeles Times My Lowest Ebb(Ers) in The Wall Street Journal A Stock Market Scam, from Innumeracy Review of the Theory That Would Not Die in The New York Times
"A quirky and surprisingly poignant book (A Numerate Life) about the struggle to make sense of one’s own life story. With the help of logic and statistical reasoning, Paulos shines a light on the paradoxes and delusions that so often bedevil our remembrance of things past."
— Steven Strogatz — Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of The Joy of X
Wittgenstein and Carroll, from Mathematics and Humor “Electrified Paté”, in The American Scholar A Numerate Life - Contents God and Girls in Thailand on 3quarksdaily.com Twitter "War" - Neil deGrasse Tyson and John Allen Paulos

How the Conjunction Fallacy and Confirmation Bias Make Fake News Credible, in Slate