Go Figure: Making Numbers Count

Go Figure: Making Numbers Count "Go Figure: Making Numbers Count" conveys the wonder of numbers--and the wonderfully relevant ways t

Operating as usual

Some remarks, from a 2013 essay, on the crucial distinction between percent change and percentage point change.
12/08/2021
My Percentage / Percentage Point Primer & Plea For Apolitical Math - Inside Edge PR

Some remarks, from a 2013 essay, on the crucial distinction between percent change and percentage point change.

Sixteen years ago this summer, an editor at the newspaper where I toiled came to my desk and asked if I would be interested in writing a column that centered on numbers. He was aware of my passion for and facility with numbers–in fact, I was in the midst of creating the Home Run Power Ratio as ste...

From a missive last week: c'mon, Axios folks....just indicate "11 out of 24" rather than this "46% of 99 polled, with 25...
11/16/2021

From a missive last week: c'mon, Axios folks....just indicate "11 out of 24" rather than this "46% of 99 polled, with 25% response rate" business. :-)

From a missive last week: c'mon, Axios folks....just indicate "11 out of 24" rather than this "46% of 99 polled, with 25% response rate" business. :-)

When does a top 10 list include a dozen entries? When, wonder of wonders, you have a 4-way tie at 9th place. This is the...
09/16/2021
Northwestern maintains 9th place in U.S. News rankings for third year in a row

When does a top 10 list include a dozen entries? When, wonder of wonders, you have a 4-way tie at 9th place.

This is the recurring phenomenon with my alma mater, Northwestern University, as well as three other institutions of higher learning sharing that #9 spot. A good way for U.S. News and World Report to get its name out there more prominently, too. How convenient, huh?

Northwestern was named the 9th best university in the country in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings for the third year in a row. NU tied for the No. 9 spot with the California Institute of Technology, Duke University, and Johns Hopkins University. This marks the fourth consecutive year...

09/08/2021

There is a difference between reality and a wishful parallel universe. What do I mean?

If a tax bill goes from $10 to $12 (but some felt it should go up to $18), that's not a 33% "tax cut" (6/18) but a 20% tax increase.

Beware of sloppy and/or irresponsible reporting--and headline writing--that mixes reality with wishful thinking/theory.

Lance Lynn of the Chicago White Sox is a top Cy Young Award contender--and if he faces many more Triple-A laden lineups,...
08/09/2021
Cubs' Triple A-laden lineup no match for Lynn

Lance Lynn of the Chicago White Sox is a top Cy Young Award contender--and if he faces many more Triple-A laden lineups, that can only help his chances.

That is among my latest observations, via my "Go Figure" column yesterday in the Daily Herald:

Go Figure: Inexperience shows in Cubs' opening loss to White Sox.

From the last calendar year -- Chicago players lead the MLB in victories (Kyle Hendricks), RBI (Jose Abreu) & strikeouts...
07/26/2021

From the last calendar year -- Chicago players lead the MLB in victories (Kyle Hendricks), RBI (Jose Abreu) & strikeouts--as a batter (Javier Baez).

Those are among the numbers-crunching findings in my most recent Daily Herald "Go Figure" column:

https://www.dailyherald.com/sports/20210724/go-figure-on-the-anniversary-of-baseballs-return-a-blend-of-2020-2021-stats

From the last calendar year -- Chicago players lead the MLB in victories (Kyle Hendricks), RBI (Jose Abreu) & strikeouts--as a batter (Javier Baez).

Those are among the numbers-crunching findings in my most recent Daily Herald "Go Figure" column:

https://www.dailyherald.com/sports/20210724/go-figure-on-the-anniversary-of-baseballs-return-a-blend-of-2020-2021-stats

The "Go Figure" column in Sunday's Daily Herald, which includes a look at Kyle Hendricks' propensity for getting decisio...
06/28/2021

The "Go Figure" column in Sunday's Daily Herald, which includes a look at Kyle Hendricks' propensity for getting decisions (lately---all wins), Yermin Mercedes' tough luck of late, and my skepticism that Jacob deGrom will be the MVP at year's end.

The "Go Figure" column in Sunday's Daily Herald, which includes a look at Kyle Hendricks' propensity for getting decisions (lately---all wins), Yermin Mercedes' tough luck of late, and my skepticism that Jacob deGrom will be the MVP at year's end.

True to form, Kyle Hendricks yesterday (after my Daily Herald deadline) gave up two solo home runs & the Cubs won handil...
06/13/2021

True to form, Kyle Hendricks yesterday (after my Daily Herald deadline) gave up two solo home runs & the Cubs won handily. If The Professor winds up allowing more homers than anybody else in '21, he'll be in good company (think Fergie Jenkins).

And he may well set a personal mark for wins.

True to form, Kyle Hendricks yesterday (after my Daily Herald deadline) gave up two solo home runs & the Cubs won handily. If The Professor winds up allowing more homers than anybody else in '21, he'll be in good company (think Fergie Jenkins).

And he may well set a personal mark for wins.

Just because something is legal doesn't make it right...From the AP story: "Using perfectly legal tax strategies, many o...
06/08/2021
Secret tax data confirms Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, other billionaires pay little or no income tax, ProPublica reports

Just because something is legal doesn't make it right...

From the AP story: "Using perfectly legal tax strategies, many of the uber-rich are able to shrink their federal tax bills to nothing or close to it."

https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-rich-billionaires-income-tax-propublica-20210608-owwq3u332jar7kjw4qfidvnhqu-story.html

An anonymous source delivered reams of IRS data on the wealthiest people, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. The richest 25 Americans pay less in tax than many ordinary workers.

For this week's Go Figure column in the Daily Herald, I couldn't resist one of the quirkiest slash lines of all time -- ...
05/29/2021
Walk this way: Unpacking Yasmani Grandal's quirky slash line

For this week's Go Figure column in the Daily Herald, I couldn't resist one of the quirkiest slash lines of all time -- that of Yasmani Grandal, the oft-walked White Sox catcher whose batting average of .141 is overshadowed by an on-base percentage of nearly .400.

https://www.dailyherald.com/sports/20210528/walk-this-way-unpacking-yasmani-grandals-quirky-slash-line

Go Figure: Yasmani Grandal gets on even when the bat isn't cooperating.

I hope Albert Pujols catches on with another team, on the heels of his release from the Los Angeles Angels, and finishes...
05/07/2021
Number-crunching the Latino members of the 3,000-hit club

I hope Albert Pujols catches on with another team, on the heels of his release from the Los Angeles Angels, and finishes his Hall of Fame career strong.

Alas, his decline the past decade has been dramatic -- which I chronicled shortly after his 3,000th hit three years ago.

See the piece in La Vida Baseball:

https://www.lavidabaseball.com/albert-pujols-clemente-latino-3000-hit-club/

Albert Pujols is the sixth Latino player to reach 3,000 hits. How have he and the other five members of the exclusive club performed as they reached the revered benchmark?

The US Census count for 2020 is out -- and the last decade was just an eyelash away from being the slowest-growing decad...
04/26/2021
The 2020 Census: Our Growing Nation

The US Census count for 2020 is out -- and the last decade was just an eyelash away from being the slowest-growing decade in our history!

Since 2010, our head count went up 7.4%, vs. 7.3% between 1930 & 1940. Here's a line from the U.S. Census Bureau blog: "In the last 100 years, our nation has tripled in size."

It's actually tripled in the number of citizens, but we get the gist....

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/director/2021/04/2020-census-our-growing-nation.html?linkId=100000042146992

Today the U.S. Census Bureau is releasing results from the 2020 Census, marking the 24th time the nation’s population has been counted.

03/22/2021
Why you can’t compare Covid-19 vaccines

Enormously helpful video to explain vaccine effectiveness. Well worth reviewing, if you are not already 100% clear on what all these data points mean among the various options.

Bottom line: the sooner you can get vaccinated, by ANY of those that have been approved, the better for you and for all of the world.

03/15/2021

What if we had "counting bees" growing up, in addition to spelling bees? Please help spread the word about this terrific endeavor spearheaded by The Human Calculator!

03/12/2021

Comparing one year to another is rarely more insightful and helpful than viewing that one year in the context of a longer span of time. Relying on a shorter window of time can too readily paint a distorted picture.

This pertains to many subjects, but one common failing of the media: settling for this year-to-year "keeping score" on a community's crime statistics. Much better to look at five- or 10-year trends, to smooth out the rollercoaster of life.

Would you like to know how your local COVID-related data compares to the county it's in, or even the state as a whole? O...
03/08/2021

Would you like to know how your local COVID-related data compares to the county it's in, or even the state as a whole? Or how about the state's data vs. the entire country?

How 'bout how the country is faring, compared with the globe?

Yeah, me too....on all counts.

Alas, few news reports bother to take the additional effort to go beyond regurgitating a stream of numbers every day from their local officials.

Give us context, news media---context, please!!

Would you like to know how your local COVID-related data compares to the county it's in, or even the state as a whole? Or how about the state's data vs. the entire country?

How 'bout how the country is faring, compared with the globe?

Yeah, me too....on all counts.

Alas, few news reports bother to take the additional effort to go beyond regurgitating a stream of numbers every day from their local officials.

Give us context, news media---context, please!!

Day by day—even moment by moment—we are deluged with decisions that involve numbers. Can I afford this product? Is that ...
02/26/2021

Day by day—even moment by moment—we are deluged with decisions that involve numbers. Can I afford this product? Is that candidate truly aligned with my views? How much weight should I give to that story in the media? What if I share this account I came across on social media?

For even the most diligent citizen, separating fact from fiction can be overwhelming. But with guidance on how to detect data deception, even the most math-phobic have plenty of potential to improve.

This is where Go Figure comes in, to help people elevate their "numbers sense."

To book "Lies, Damn Lies & Navigating the Numbers in Our Lives," contact numeracy expert Matt Baron at [email protected] or call 708-860-1380.

Day by day—even moment by moment—we are deluged with decisions that involve numbers. Can I afford this product? Is that candidate truly aligned with my views? How much weight should I give to that story in the media? What if I share this account I came across on social media?

For even the most diligent citizen, separating fact from fiction can be overwhelming. But with guidance on how to detect data deception, even the most math-phobic have plenty of potential to improve.

This is where Go Figure comes in, to help people elevate their "numbers sense."

To book "Lies, Damn Lies & Navigating the Numbers in Our Lives," contact numeracy expert Matt Baron at [email protected] or call 708-860-1380.

During the second impeachment proceedings today, a 15-minute break was requested, and swiftly granted. What's your best ...
02/10/2021

During the second impeachment proceedings today, a 15-minute break was requested, and swiftly granted.

What's your best guesstimate of how long the break ACTUALLY lasted?

These eight Sports Illustrated pundits, on average, predict a 31-24 Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Tom Brady Buccan...
02/04/2021
Super Bowl LV Predictions: Picking the Winner, Score and MVP

These eight Sports Illustrated pundits, on average, predict a 31-24 Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Tom Brady Buccaneers (OK, TB is still, at least for now, technically Tampa Bay).

Sounds about right to me.

https://www.si.com/nfl/2021/02/04/mmqb-staff-predictions-super-bowl-lv-chiefs-buccaneers?suid=5cc1c46424c17c493948567c&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SI%20Extra%20020421&utm_term=SI%20Extra%20-%20USE%20THIS%20-%20List

Will the Chiefs repeat, or will Tom Brady win his seventh ring for the Buccaneers? The MMQB writers and editors make their picks.

I was thinking about waiting until 8:21:21 p.m. today to give this heads-up, but some advance notice may be helpful to p...
01/21/2021

I was thinking about waiting until 8:21:21 p.m. today to give this heads-up, but some advance notice may be helpful to prep you for the magical moment. What's so magical about it?

It is 21 seconds after the 21st minute of the 21st hour on the 21st day of the 21st year after 2000.

Are you part of an organization that would benefit from a heightened numbers sense? After a record-setting number of Go ...
01/19/2021

Are you part of an organization that would benefit from a heightened numbers sense?

After a record-setting number of Go Figure programs in 2020, I am excited to continue bringing numeracy principles to people this year with "Lies, Damn Lies & Navigating the Numbers in Our Lives."

To book a session, or any other inquiry, please reach out at [email protected] or call 708-860-1380.

The long-term academic struggles that come out of the pandemic are yet to be fully realized, but already the news is ver...
12/04/2020
New Report Offers Clearest Picture Yet Of Pandemic Impact On Student Learning

The long-term academic struggles that come out of the pandemic are yet to be fully realized, but already the news is very disconcerting. More than ever, Go Figure: Making Numbers Count is committed to being part of promoting 'numbers sense' to as many people as possible.

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/12/01/938048852/some-good-news-student-reading-gains-are-steady-while-math-slows-down

A new report offers the clearest picture yet of pandemic learning loss among U.S. students. But researchers warn that many of the nation's most vulnerable children aren't represented in the new data.

The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page offers important insights on the "truth decay" besetting society. Numeracy is an ess...
11/29/2020
Column: Our democracy is fighting a bad case of ‘truth decay’

The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page offers important insights on the "truth decay" besetting society. Numeracy is an essential component in combating such decay.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/clarence-page/ct-column-truth-fake-news-literacy-page-20201126-rpzogqv2fvdnnmzh6x4py7oblu-story.html

To rebuild public trust, public officials and concerned media need to raise awareness of “truth decay” and work to close the information gaps that leave some Americans feeling like their lives and complaints are being ignored by elites.

Our soon-to-be ex-President lies in myriad ways, and deceptive math is at the heart of much of his style. Here, I see "n...
11/12/2020

Our soon-to-be ex-President lies in myriad ways, and deceptive math is at the heart of much of his style.

Here, I see "nonzero number" in a story for the first time in my life--an outgrowth of the bogus election fraud claims that Trump has been vomiting for years, and amped up after his loss in the recent election.

My 32nd and final "Go Figure" column of 2020 for the Daily Herald, from this past Sunday. A look back at the World Serie...
11/04/2020

My 32nd and final "Go Figure" column of 2020 for the Daily Herald, from this past Sunday. A look back at the World Series, including a question about Clayton Kershaw--and a look ahead to the White Sox new (old) manager, Tony La Russa, with more trivia fodder.

One of the bright lights in a dark 2020--having this outlet each week has been a godsend!

Congrats to the Dodgers--and to World Series (and NLCS) MVP Corey Seager. These data points are a tad misleading -- he h...
10/28/2020

Congrats to the Dodgers--and to World Series (and NLCS) MVP Corey Seager. These data points are a tad misleading -- he had more opportunity to rack up those stats than most anyone has ever had in the past, across four series and 18 games -- but he truly was outstanding.

Curious to learn the perception that folks have on this question: Among Americans planning to vote ON Election Day (vs. ...
10/15/2020

Curious to learn the perception that folks have on this question:

Among Americans planning to vote ON Election Day (vs. early), what is the % point edge for President Trump over Joe Biden, according to Pew Research Center?

(I will post correct answer on Friday afternoon)

a) 8 points (51% to 43%)
b) 19 points (57% to 38%)
c) 32 points (63% to 31%)

A new addition to my "GOlympics" quiz, to be unveiled tomorrow via my Zoom program sponsored by Flossmoor Public Library...
10/13/2020

A new addition to my "GOlympics" quiz, to be unveiled tomorrow via my Zoom program sponsored by Flossmoor Public Library:

During their VP Debate, Mike Pence & Kamala Harris had almost equal speaking time. Does this mean that the event was fair and balanced? If so, why? If not, why not?

To receive the link for the Wed, Oct 14 session (7 pm start), please e-mail [email protected].

10/08/2020
Go Figure--The 2020 Presidential Campaign Trail

This year, I am leading more than a dozen programs tied to the "lies, damn lies and statistics" revolving around the 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign trail.

A number of people who have been unable to attend have asked if they can see it after the fact. YES, and here's one of 'em, via the Skokie Public Library:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-mmzeqGaOM&feature=youtu.be

Join numeracy expert and writer Matt Baron for tips on separating fact from fiction when it comes to understanding the 2020 presidential election. Learn how ...

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