This week’s Math Goggles Challenge is inspired by Dr. Keith Devlin and his Introduction to Mathematical Thinking course on Coursera.org. By the way, if you are not sure what Math Goggles are and why wear them, here’s a good intro into the challenge.
Back to Dr. Devlin and this week’s challenge. In his very first lecture in the Intro to Math Thinking course, Dr. Devlin draws attention to the news headlines or, more specifically, to the rather common misuse of language in them. We, the readers, generally do not notice such misuse, unless it’s either a really glaring one or we are acting nitpicky. After all, we all know what the headline “Stolen Painting Found by Tree” means.
But in math precision is extremely important. Which explains, in large part, the time we took to craft definitions of the terms used in the Moebius Noodles book. Mathematicians have to be very literal. So this week, let’s look for ambiguous headlines. If you are pressed for time, you can always enter “ambiguous headlines” in the search bar of whatever Internet browser you use.
Otherwise, check out your daily paper or online news sites. Here are a few I spotted today:
Once you find the headlines, see if you can figure out a way to fix them to remove the unintended meaning. Don’t forget to share your finds with us.