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Topic: replying to Milo's inquiry
Replies: 2   Last Post: Aug 16, 2006 11:45 AM

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markdotmath

Posts: 12
Registered: 1/30/05
replying to Milo's inquiry
Posted: Aug 14, 2006 8:43 AM
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att1.dat (1.9 K)

> 3. Widows are more likely among suicides than widowers.
> 4. Widows are more likely to commit suicide than widowers.


Hi Milo,

I really like this dialogue because not only do I have to think about
what everyone is saying, I have to deal with your making me reflect on
my own thoughts.

Let me use the above two statements to explore this a little further.

I contend that no numeracy is necessary to realize that statement 3 and
4 say different things. "More likely" is not only a mathematical
relationship (as we see it) but it is first and foremost a language
statement. Do literate people understand it? I suppose so. Would a
non-numerate comparison be possible to further understand it, in the
sense of really knowing the groups in which the categories exist?
Widows are one group; suicides another and widowers the third. How do
they compare with each other? Are any sub-groups (not mathematical
groups) of the other? Are they separate and distinct? Could I draw a
picture showing how they relate to each other? (Yes, a Venn diagram
would be handy but a literate person could draw circles and map this
out without "knowing" it was a Venn diagram). If you could get sets of
literate/innumerate, illiterate/innumerate, literate/numerate.
illiterate/numerate and manage to conduct a controlled experiment, it
would be interesting to see the outcomes. i'm not quite sure what I
would predict because it would be hard to identify the questions to
ask.

I won't pursue this ad nauseum at this point, but I hope my little
foray into this example helps detail a little of what I perceive to be
a difference between literacy and numeracy. I don't deny the critical
nature of necessary and inescapable overlap in some cases, but I am a
little cautious in generalizing obvious cases from ones which are more
subtle, and in this case (i think), more subtle than I had first
suspected ... later, mark



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