It's not just the illiteracy, it's the innumeracy!

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prfesser

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Innumeracy is just like illiteracy, except it's with numbers and not reading/writing.

Went to Taco Bell for some cheap takeout; two tacos, one bean burrito, no sides, no drinks. Bright-eyed cashier blithely says $10.24". whaaaAAAAAT?? for THREE cheap items?

She finally figured out that it was wrong, new total was $6+. Still sounded high. Looked at the receipt; no, I didn't want the SUPREME burrito, wanted the BEAN burrito.

Second gal, assistant manager I guess, came out to fix it. Apparently she couldn't figure the difference between the two items, so she just refunded me a supreme, then sold me the bean.

The calculator was a wonderful tool when it came out, but now the downside really shows its face. The first gal didn't even recognize that the price was about three times what it should have been, and the second apparently couldn't do that advanced math. You know....percentages. :rolleyes: Not just the general public; even college students. In an attempt to generate some thinking, I asked a first-year chem student what 4x7 was. Poor gal just sat there. Dropped the course shortly thereafter. Some guys can't count past 10 unless they take off their shoes, and they're stumped past 20 unless they take everything else off.;)

And if anyone thinks that it's bad now, just wait until retailers figure out just how little consumers know about prices and money. You will see "Just 49 cents per can, or SAVE and get a dozen for just 7.50!!" in every possible anti-consumer advertisement. And as most transactions are electronic these days, people will toss the receipt into the trash, never knowing that the cashier charged $10 for the can of Coke HE'S drinking. And kept the change.

Best -- Terry
 

Bowman

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How about the fact that many products are no longer sold in their typical size.
Coffee used to come in 1lb packages (or larger), other things as well, Triscut crackers for example.
Why? Because the vendors know that most people won't pay enough attention to know that they just paid the same price for less goods.
So instead of simply being honest and pricing the item based on cost and of course margin, they prefer to take the deceptive approach and count on us not noticing. Of course if you ask they will come up with some absurd reason like "the smaller package is more efficient to ship and stock.."
How dumb do they know we are?
 

Kelly

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"Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for most people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST." - MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, commenting on Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign spending.
:questions:
 

Antares JS

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"Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for most people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST." - MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, commenting on Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign spending.
:questions:
Cancer.jpg
 

Kelly

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Umm, more like $1.53 each.
Yeah, and it's amazing (to me) that someone can't do this math in their head and get an answer that is at least closer than 6 orders of magnitude off!

Another of my favorites is something I used to see on Facebook when I was on that platform. Every once in a while I would see a post going around that said something like "2020 is a special year! Did you know that if you subtract your age from 2020, the result will be the year you were born - no matter how old you are!!!". This would go around once every few years, with a different year used. People would forward it around to all their friends as though it was something really cool.
 

CalebJ

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Yeah, and it's amazing (to me) that someone can't do this math in their head and get an answer that is at least closer than 6 orders of magnitude off!

Another of my favorites is something I used to see on Facebook when I was on that platform. Every once in a while I would see a post going around that said something like "2020 is a special year! Did you know that if you subtract your age from 2020, the result will be the year you were born - no matter how old you are!!!". This would go around once every few years, with a different year used. People would forward it around to all their friends as though it was something really cool.
One of my favorite college professors forwarded that and it blew my mind. She was/is absolutely in brilliant, but clearly not in areas that relate to math.
 

teepot

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I couldn't agree more. I was in retail and if the register didn't tell the cashier what the change was they would have to use a calculator. Math is something if you don't use it you lose it. When I was in high school I had trouble with math. I just didn't get it. When I went to collage I finally got it. Went up to trig. Now 40 years later all that knowledge is gone.
 

Bowman

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I couldn't agree more. I was in retail and if the register didn't tell the cashier what the change was they would have to use a calculator. Math is something if you don't use it you lose it. When I was in high school I had trouble with math. I just didn't get it. When I went to collage I finally got it. Went up to trig. Now 40 years later all that knowledge is gone.
When I was in High School I pumped gasoline into Other People's cars during the Arab oil embargo.
You had to be able to count change back because not everyone used a credit card.
We also offered to check your oil and we always washed your windows!

I wouldn't feel bad about forgetting the trig, you probably have no opportunity to use it now anyhow, but you know its there.
That's how I feel about calculus, I respect that it's pretty cool, but seldom have a chance to use it, though rocketry is a good case for use.
 

Funkworks

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Some math problems are more interesting than others. Personally my interest waxes and wanes. Unless you're a specialist, advanced math can take time to set up correctly, so people might not bother. But getting it right can be a great feeling. It's mostly worth it when the stakes are high.

As for daily accounting, it comes with practice but calculators reduce the risk of mistakes. I would understand that someone who does it all day isn't necessarily sharp all day long.
 

les

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Agree with the blank stares from sales clerks. I had a purchase that was $4.87. I had some loose change so I gave the clerk $5.12. They balked because I gave them too much. I responded I didn't want a lot of change in my pocket. They we still puzzled so I told the person to just enter the amount. I finally got a single quarter to replace the 5 pennies, 2 nickels, and dime I would have ended up with.

In terms of the smaller packages, I tend to use the unit of measure cost to compare prices.
But even then you have to be careful in that some of those labels are wrong.
I've tried pointing them out when I see it, but the standard response is they come preprinted from the head office and there is nothing they can do - sure - it's ok to provide false pricing information so long as it comes from the head office.....
 

modeltrains

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And now, as and added bonus at no extra charge, I'm going to brag about myself 😁
About the same year as that song, I learned retail at a local hobby shop which used a really cool antique cash register with its case being floral design cast brass & it was your brain which told you how much change to give, preferably by counting back to what you had been given.

Later in a different city in a different state, I worked a bit for F. W. Woolworth, and while it had electronic registers which told what amount to give in change, it was fun to still be able to count change back.

And, different thing but it comes to mind now, it still seems to be true of at least the cash registers I've tried it with, the register would happily keep taking inputs of different forms of payment until what was paid matched or exceeded the total due.
 

Fattbank64

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Agree with the blank stares from sales clerks. I had a purchase that was $4.87. I had some loose change so I gave the clerk $5.12. They balked because I gave them too much. I responded I didn't want a lot of change in my pocket. They we still puzzled so I told the person to just enter the amount. I finally got a single quarter to replace the 5 pennies, 2 nickels, and dime I would have ended up with.
+1
Counting change and understanding hard currency is a lost skill.
 

mbeels

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As for daily accounting, it comes with practice but calculators reduce the risk of mistakes. I would understand that someone who does it all day isn't necessarily sharp all day long.
I remember reading a summary of a study that compared the types of mistakes people made when doing math in their heads, vs doing math on a calculator. I forget the specifics, but when asked to calculations in their heads, any mistakes these folk made were in the less significant parts of the answer. But when doing calculations on a calculator, the errors were much larger, like orders of magnitude errors. When using a calculator, it was easier to fat finger an extra digit, or get the decimal in the wrong place.

The message I took from that was even when using a computational aid (spreadsheet, computer, calculator, whatever) it was very useful to be able to think through the math as a sanity check and make sure the answer makes sense. It helps prevent GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out).
 

hball55

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Yeah, and it's amazing (to me) that someone can't do this math in their head and get an answer that is at least closer than 6 orders of magnitude off!

Another of my favorites is something I used to see on Facebook when I was on that platform. Every once in a while I would see a post going around that said something like "2020 is a special year! Did you know that if you subtract your age from 2020, the result will be the year you were born - no matter how old you are!!!". This would go around once every few years, with a different year used. People would forward it around to all their friends as though it was something really cool.
ROFL, great recovery.
 

NateB

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I worked at a Wendy's when I was 16. I was always assigned to the drive through window because at the time the POS system was cash only and only allowed one transaction at a time. The order had to be placed and cashed out before they paid so the next person in line could order. I was fortunate enough to be one of the only kids who could quickly and accurately give people the correct change, in my head, and have a balanced register at the end of the shift.

Now, in my line of work, we still have to calculate drug concentrations and IV drip rates. We have computerized IV pumps, but the drug concentrations can vary at facilities outside our health system and require adjustment to the pumps. It isn't hard, but the systems inside the hospitals are all networked to the charting system and whatever orders are entered. Sometimes I do worry that people l who have only relied on that technology won't know how to make those calculations on their own.

If the simple algebra we use for this seems bad, air traffic controllers have a lot harder problems to solve quickly and accurately.
 

OverTheTop

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Now, in my line of work, we still have to calculate drug concentrations and IV drip rates. We have computerized IV pumps, but the drug concentrations can vary at facilities outside our health system and require adjustment to the pumps. It isn't hard, but the systems inside the hospitals are all networked to the charting system and whatever orders are entered. Sometimes I do worry that people l who have only relied on that technology won't know how to make those calculations on their own.
My wife is a nurse and consequently I am very good at drug calculations ;) . She asks me from time to time to check her calcs. Right all the time I think, but she likes to check answers sometimes if the answer is unusual. Trainee nurses have to score 100% on the calculations exam. My wife teaches that subject.
 

rklapp

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"Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for most people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST." - MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, commenting on Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign spending.
:questions:
Great series...


Subway triggers the eff out of me. Their menu shows the price per meal but their receipt groups the items together. Shouldn't need a calculator and integrals to figure out if the cashier charged the meals correctly. :)
 

Cape Byron

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I'm glad they learn correctly, at least before they get hired somewhere and learn to rely on the computer. ;)
Amazing how many nurses will look at the monitor and cancel an alarm before they look at the patient. I was taught, "You're looking after the patient, not the /+$#!@ monitor!".
 

BABAR

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Scary things is the fast food cashiers have been replaced with kiosks, and WallyWorld and other stores have self check out. So whatever skills kids MAY have gotten are now replaced by machines. When the machines can start flipping the burgers and wrapping the sandwiches themselves, those jobs will be gone too.

when a reporter asked a man on the street whether America’s main problem was ignorance or apathy, the man responded, “I don’t know and I don’t care!”

different forum, but while India is suffering a crippling resurgence of Covid, due in part to less vaccination, more crowding, and premature setting aside social distancing and masking (because, “We were doing so well!”) Americans are dropping their guard, with marked relaxation of masking and social distancing.

so it is not just our “readin’, ritin ’, n ‘rithmatic” that we are failing. On the bright side, we seem to be becoming more and more politically correct! And since we can’t or don’t bother to learn from our history, we seem to be rewriting/revising it to make it easier to remember or at least palatable.
 

tomsteve

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Umm, more like $1.53 each.
i was hoping my math wasnt off. i thought it was more like 327 trillion required for each american to get a million.

apparently people that cant do math become anchors.
and spend $10.24 for 2 tacos and a bean burrito.
 

Marc_G

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Of course, the pandemic pretty much killed use of cash here in the states. I haven't used cash for a single purchase in 14 months. I use it to give my younger son his allowance; that's about it. When he buys something I use a credit card and he pays me the cash. This summer he turns 14, gets a bank account and wi rarely touch cash again...
 

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