Category Archives: Politics vs. math

Education has always been free

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I was representing my publisher employer at a technology meeting at the dawn of the commercial internet in the mid-1990s when I heard the popular technology guru Esther Dyson presciently say that “the price of information always trends toward zero.” That prediction was not good news for many book publishers like mine, but it has certainly come true in the… Read more »

Politics informed by math #5 – Small conspiracies

In an earlier post I suggested that you can likely doubt that most alleged grand conspiracies are real on probability grounds alone, as the number of one-to-one connections requiring “trust against a lie” grows factorially. By the same logic, the smaller the conspiracy, the better the odds of keeping the trust factor intact. In this post I will look at a… Read more »

Politics informed by math #4 – Grand conspiracies

The political fringes are dominated by conspiracy theories that far too often encroach on the usually more reasonable political middle. In this post I want to look at some math behind grand conspiracies, which involve many people keeping a secret, as contrasted with small conspiracies, which only require a small, tight group to maintain. One classic example of an alleged grand… Read more »

Politics informed by math #3 – “Money is speech”

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Supreme Court Justices may know the law, but I am not convinced that they know math. This post is a little exercise in the math behind the conservative dictum that “money is speech.” To cut to the chase, and if indeed, “money is speech,” then a family whose net wealth in 1963 was in the 99th percentile of U.S. families… Read more »

Politics informed by math #2 – Medicare-for-all

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“Medicare-for-all” has become a common campaign promise on the political left but it suffers in the details, first from any widely-accepted definition, which can range from a (not-so-simple) “public option” to a complete nationalization of the healthcare insurance payments system. Second, all of its configurations that I have investigated suffer from an apparent naivete or lack of understanding of some… Read more »

Politics informed by math #1 – Voter fraud

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This is a first in a series of posts looking at issues in the current political landscape where a better understanding of some basic math principles would likely change the direction of the discussion. We are an innumerate nation (the mathematical equivalent of illiterate). When we make political decisions based on bad math we are harming our fellow citizens, and… Read more »