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July 29th, 2016, 10:00 AM   #1
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Math Mistakes You've Seen In Everyday Life

What math mistakes have you seen people make in everyday life? I'm talking about concepts that do not require a high level of education and can be useful even if your career has nothing to do with math. Here's an example. A person thought the probability of a draw in a soccer game would be 1/3 because there are three possible outcomes. When introducing probability to students, examples of coins and dice are given that involve equally likely outcomes, but people should know that not all outcomes are equally likely. To give an example of two outcomes that are luckily not anywhere near equally likely, when you get in your car, you could get to your destination, or you could die in a car accident. I also saw somebody doing college admissions make an arithmetic mistake that helped a student get accepted. A student needed at least 15 points out of 20 from four categories worth up to 5 points each. The person evaluating the student mistakenly wrote that 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 = 16. I don't remember what order the 3s and 4s were in, but order is irrelevant in addition.
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July 29th, 2016, 01:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by EvanJ View Post
The person evaluating the student mistakenly wrote that 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 = 16.
3 + 3 + 4 + 4 = 16 including taxes...
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July 29th, 2016, 03:24 PM   #3
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I don't think this counts as real life, but it's a good story anyway.

When I was in college (years 11 and 12), my friends and I went to the maths staffroom to ask our teacher a question about our assignment. While we were waiting for her to be available, a different teacher turned to us and asked "What's 3x3?"
We all looked at each other and said "9".
He held up the test he was marking and said "According to this person, it's actually 6."
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July 29th, 2016, 06:52 PM   #4
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Years ago I witnessed a TV commercial for a local circus with a boy announcing dates something such
as the 11th through the 14th of that month. At the end of the commercial, he held up three fingers
and shouted, "That's three days!"

A day or two later, after the commercial was reshot, the same boy appeared in a TV commercial and
at the end of the commercial, he held up four fingers and shouted, "That's four days!"
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July 30th, 2016, 10:33 AM   #5
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Football announcers take a team's takeaways - giveaways and incorrectly call it "turnover ratio." It's "turnover differential." Several sports say "winning percentage," but it's expressed as a decimal out of 1,000, not out of 100.
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July 30th, 2016, 10:48 AM   #6
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Math Focus: Stochastic processes, statistical inference, data mining, computational linguistics
People confusing odds and probability, and interpreting p-values as the posterior probabilities of the null hypothesis being true.
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