America Is Below Average, But Not the Dumbest Country!

Hamilton Nolan · 10/08/13 12:06PM

America seems to be locked in a permanent back-and-forth with the world's other developed nations: we call them "poor and weak," and they call us "uneducated and, frankly, dumb." Also, "fat." Well, we may be fat, but look out world: we're much smarter than the Italians!

How to Beat the Wall Street Pros in One Easy Step

Hamilton Nolan · 06/19/13 11:48AM

Even the lucky people who have cash to invest are often cynical about the stock market. "The game is rigged. Smart money vs. dumb money. Insiders win. Efficient markets. You can't beat the pros. Why try?" Etc. Wrong! To be a successful investor, you only need to know one thing.

Max Read · 06/04/13 10:25AM

Finally, someone comes out and says it: New York magazine is built on a lie.

There Are Now 1,426 Billionaires on Earth, and You Are Each Worth Exactly $762.95 to Them

Adam Weinstein · 04/10/13 09:30AM

Forbes published a rundown yesterday of America's top-paid CEOs, based on data from its annual billionaires list. That's how we learned that there's an annual billionaires list, because apparently billionaires need something to obsess over besides billions of dollars. There are 1,426 billionaires among the human race's 7 billion or so members, meaning you have a roughly .00002 percent chance of becoming a billionaire, all other things being equal. But of course all things are unequal, and your odds are pretty improved if you didn't grow up in a favela or a shanty on the banks of the Ganges. (Good news, developed America: You account for 442 billionaires, the most of any country on the list!)

Hamilton Nolan · 03/13/13 09:18AM

If you want a university job, get a math doctorate. Ugh. Do you want a university job that bad?

Manhattan School Apologizes After Assigning 'Slavery Word Problems Homework' to Fourth Graders

Taylor Berman · 02/21/13 10:10PM

Math is obviously an important skill for elementary students to learn, and we support creative methods for teaching what, for some, is a boring subject. But, as we noted last year, there are much better ways to teach math than by using word problems about slavery. Alas, a fourth grade teacher at Manhattan's P.S. 59 failed to heed our warning and thought it would be a good idea to distribute a worksheet titled "Slavery Word Problems Homework," which included questions such as:

Making Subways Safer Is a Poor Use of Money

Hamilton Nolan · 01/29/13 12:10PM

In New York City last year, 141 were struck by subway trains, and 55 were killed. There have been several recent high-profile deaths on the tracks, including one that made the cover of the NY Post. Falling (or being pushed) in front of a train is a classic nightmare scenario. So what should we do to prevent it? Well... something cheap, if anything.

Shooting the Messenger's Numbers: Nate Silver's Struggle (The Redux)

Mobutu Sese Seko · 11/02/12 11:02AM

Nate Silver, the famed statistician behind the FiveThirtyEight election forecast blog at the New York Times, is wrong. And gay. At least according to the more virulent elements of right-wing media. That he's wrong is only confirmed by his gayness, just as surely as his gayness is the source of his wrongness. Nate Silver is a tautology of being queer as hell about everything.

Why Are You Playing the Lottery?

Hamilton Nolan · 08/15/12 02:36PM

The Powerball jackpot is up to $320 million. Why do you play the lottery? Is it because you have a dream? Because you have hope of a better future? Because—though you know it's a long shot—you just have a good feeling about this one? Because the twinkle in your eye and the spring in your step signify your jaunty, devil-may-care attitude towards the naysayers, and a firm belief that you, a fundamentally good person, will one day get your proper reward?

You Are Not Going to Win the Lottery, You Fool

Hamilton Nolan · 03/29/12 12:45PM

The Mega Millions jackpot is half a billion dollars. A cool half-billion. You could use that money, eh? Buy your castle and everything. Have you bought your Mega Millions ticket yet? Well, don't.

Casinos Are for Losers

Hamilton Nolan · 03/15/12 01:34PM

Michael Sokolove's NYT Magazine cover story this week is about the decline of the casino gambling industry—overinvestment followed by the recession, and oversupply of casinos which raises competition for a declining amount of disposable income. What will this mean for state tax revenue? What will this mean for Native American tribes? What will this mean for gamblers with money burning holes in their pockets?

Happy Pi Day, Nerds! Here's Pi to Around 100,000 1 Digit

Max Read · 03/14/12 10:14AM

Today is Pi Day, for obvious reasons. Pi is a Greek letter representing the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, a mathematical constant. If a circle's diameter is one, its circumference is approximately 3. Happy Pi day.

Slavery Probably Not the Best Subject for Third-Grade Math Word Problems

Max Read · 01/09/12 05:40PM

While we admire the clear desire for efficient pedagogy displayed by teachers at Beaver Ridge Elementary in Norcross, Ga., we can't help but feel that there is probably a better history lesson to include in math problems than "slavery," or maybe a better way to teach students about slavery than by providing them with questions like "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" (For the record: seven.)

Pigeons, Like Monkeys, Are Better at Math Than You

Max Read · 12/23/11 09:45AM

Anyone who knows anything about anything knows that birds, of all animals, are not to be trusted. Have you seen a bird, recently, doing its little bird things (pecking?), acting as though its brain is the size of a Sno-Cap? Well, guess what: birds can do math. Higher math.