Thursday, November 8, 2007

Innumeracy: It's not just for Americans any more

Here you can read about a scratch lottery game in England where lower temperatures are the winners. Apparently the innumeracy in England is so bad that they had to discontinue the game. Players were confused as to whether the larger (in absolute terms) negative numbers were higher or lower than the smaller figures:

"Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: “On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn’t.

“I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I’m not having it.”"

It would be funny if it weren't so sad. Hat tip Good Math Bad Math.

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