http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/video AndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvent s/player.aspx?id=1251 ]]>

Kahneman is a psychologist who received the Nobel in economics for his work in discrediting the notion that people think and behave rationally (that is a greatly simplistic description, of course).

]]>OK, I write subject to correction by knowledgeable types like Curmudgeon, but I think you have this backwards. Everyone has a gut reaction answer to numerical problems, but the thing about number problems is that you have to think about them to get them right. A numerate person isn’t someone who gets the right answer without thinking, it’s someone who’s good at thinking about number problems instead of using his gut.

So for instance, your example is easy because 2/3 of 3 is 2, and 2/4 is 1/2. That is why most people can answer “what’s 2/3 of 3/4″ quickly – the answer comes up directly. But “what’s 3/4 of 2/3″ is harder, even though it’s mathematically equivalent. A numerate person would perceive this and mentally invert the question into the easier format. Numeracy is the combination of being willing to think about what the right numerical answer really is together with a grab-bag of little tricks for making such thinking easier. The latter trait is developed by the former.

]]>I had used this principle come up with a reasonably good mathematical model that predicted behavior in a gaming situation, based on changing behavior using rewards offered in the game.

]]>Yup.

How many people ever ask themselves why they believe what they believe?

It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.

Will Rogers ]]>

Can’t state it better than this:

]]>Felix, on the fact that on the scale that the human mind can reasonably comprehend, one versus a thousand are quite different things and people appreciate the relativeness of that difference, while a billion and trillion are both just “a lot” and the difference between those two large numbers is also “lots”. The former can be perceived as a larger difference than the latter.

]]>Who is having the number problem here is the question…the difference between a billion and a trillion is by magnitude a trillion is a thousnd times bigger than a billion just like 1000 is a thousand times bigger than one. Have to wonder what human mind you are referencing.

]]>(Which also happens to be what I think you really meant!)

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