Posts tagged ‘penny’

Ignorance is Bliss, and Other Fallacies

Alex and I were enduring a silence induced by a dozen oysters and two Abita Ambers. “You seem happy here,” I said.

“Just like everyone in New Orleans,” he said. “Louisiana always ranks near the bottom in education but near the top in happiness.”

Is that really true? And are the states ranking highest in education the least happy? It seems weird to think that there’s an inverse relationship between education and happiness, but you know what they say: ignorance is bliss.

To test this theory, I consulted several sources.

(All of the data that I gathered is shown in the table at the bottom of the post.)

As the following graph shows, there is a strong positive correlation between happiness and diplomas (r = 0.71).

Happiness vs. DiplomasSimilarly, there is a positive correlation between happiness and IQ, but it’s not quite as strong (r = 0.51).

These analyses suggest that the least educated states seem to be the least happy, and vice versa. So despite what you’ve heard, it appears that ignorance is not bliss.

Tune in tomorrow, when I attempt to show that:

  • Neither a bird in the hand nor two in the bush are worth as much as a partridge in a pear tree.
  • The ratio of prevention:cure is slightly greater than 1:16.
  • Fewer than 2.4% of the Earth’s population are worth their weight in gold (about $3 million for a 150-pound person), but more than 99.9% are worth their salt (less than $500 for table salt at retail prices).
  • Your thoughts are more valuable than a penny saved or a penny earned.

State

Happiness Rating

State IQ

Population % with HS Diploma

Alabama

64.2

94.9

82.1%

Alaska

66.1

97.5

91.4%

Arizona

67.1

96.4

84.2%

Arkansas

64.1

96.3

82.4%

California

67.4

94.9

80.6%

Colorado

69.7

99.2

89.3%

Connecticut

67.6

100.6

88.6%

Delaware

66.6

99.1

87.4%

Florida

65.8

98.0

85.3%

Georgia

66.1

96.9

83.9%

Hawaii

71.1

95.9

90.4%

Idaho

67.1

98.9

88.4%

Illinois

66.6

98.6

86.4%

Indiana

65.1

99.3

86.6%

Iowa

68.1

98.7

90.5%

Kansas

67.7

99.6

89.8%

Kentucky

62.7

98.3

81.7%

Louisiana

64.7

95.5

82.2%

Maine

67.3

99.4

90.2%

Maryland

68.0

99.9

88.2%

Massachusetts

68.1

102.4

89.0%

Michigan

65.6

97.4

87.9%

Minnesota

68.9

101.0

91.5%

Mississippi

63.6

93.8

80.4%

Missouri

65.5

99.4

86.8%

Montana

68.5

100.3

90.8%

Nebraska

68.5

99.2

89.7%

Nevada

65.2

95.3

83.9%

New Hampshire

68.4

100.9

91.3%

New Jersey

66.1

101.4

87.4%

New Mexico

66.7

94.8

82.8%

New York

66.2

98.7

84.7%

North Carolina

65.7

97.8

84.3%

North Dakota

67.4

100.5

90.1%

Ohio

64.6

99.7

87.6%

Oklahoma

65.2

96.4

85.6%

Oregon

67.1

98.8

89.1%

Pennsylvania

66.5

100.6

87.9%

Rhode Island

65.5

97.3

84.7%

South Carolina

65.2

97.0

83.6%

South Dakota

68.0

100.3

89.9%

Tennessee

64.0

96.7

83.1%

Texas

66.6

98.2

79.9%

Utah

68.8

98.5

90.4%

Vermont

68.6

101.2

91.0%

Virginia

67.7

99.1

86.6%

Washington

67.7

99.6

89.7%

West Virginia

61.3

94.9

82.8%

Wisconsin

67.3

99.7

89.8%

Wyoming

67.9

99.2

91.8%

October 19, 2013 at 9:31 am Leave a comment

Don’t Get Mad, Get Equal

The title of this post is a modification of a common idiom. It doesn’t make much sense, but if people are allowed to use even when they mean equal, then vice versa.

A math terminology debate over these two words occurred in our house yesterday.

Scales

While walking my dog, I found a shiny, new penny. When I got home, I told my sons that whoever guessed the item I found could have that item. To my dismay, my mother-in-law, father-in-law and wife started making suggestions. “Maybe it’s a penny,” my wife suggested. “Or a quarter,” said my mother-in-law. “Or a dime,” said my father-in-law. I looked at my dog. C’mon, boy, you’re the only one who hasn’t said anything. Why don’t you suggest that it could also be a nickel and make this game completely devoid of fun, I thought.

But kudos to Eli for what he did next. “Is it a coin?” he asked, and I could almost see his five-year-old brain thinking that this would make him a winner no matter which of the suggested coins it was.

“It sure is!” I said, beaming, and handed him the coin.

We play games like this all the time, and each of my sons wins in roughly equal proportions. But upon seeing Eli receive a penny, my mother-in-law must have sensed favoritism. She pulled out her coin purse and handed some coins to both boys. When the dust settled, Eli had two nickels and three pennies, but Alex had just one nickel and three pennies. Alex asked why he had received fewer. It was just an oversight, and Grandma gave him another nickel.

“Now we have an even number of coins,” Eli said.

“Actually, you have an equal number of coins,” I corrected. “Five isn’t an even number.”

“Oh, come on,” said my mother-in-law. “They’re five years old.”

“I’d rather them not use math words incorrectly,” I said. “You’d correct them if they called a firetruck an ambulance, wouldn’t you?”

“That’s different,” she said.

Only because you know the difference between a firetruck and an ambulance, but not between even and equal, I thought. But I didn’t say anything.

As it turns out, the Google dictionary lists equal as a synonym for even. In that case, however, equal means being in equilibrium or balanced, not having the same number or value, so there is a subtle distinction. Then again, the Google dictionary also gives regardless as the definition for irregardless, which isn’t even a word, and if it were, it should mean the opposite of regardless, right? The work of lexicographers often reflects how we speak and not how we ought to speak, so it won’t be long before equal and even have the same definitions.

What do you think? Are even and equal synonyms? Are there other math words that are used interchangeably but shouldn’t be?

My mother-in-law and I often have these little exchanges, but for the most part, we get along well. She is an exceptionally wonderful grandmother, she is generous and kind, and her penchant for dark beers makes her an instant friend. I love her dearly.

Yet these debates make me realize why other folks disparage their in-laws. If my mother-in-law and I had these debates and she weren’t otherwise wonderful, I might speak ill of her, too. And then I might make math mother-in-law jokes like the following:

I’ve got nothing against polygamy. I just don’t know how one man could tolerate that many mother-in-laws.

Or this one from comedian Les Dawson:

My mother-in-law caused an argument in a pub, and a half dozen men dragged her to the floor, screaming. The barman turned to me and asked, “Aren’t you going to help?”

“Nah!” I said. “Six should be plenty!”

Not long ago, I was told that I only had three months left to live. So my wife and I moved in with my mother-in-law, knowing it would feel a whole lot longer. One night, the three of us sat down for dinner, and my wife opened a bottle of wine. My wife read from the label, “Full-bodied and imposing, with a sharp bite and a bitter aftertaste.” She took a sip. “I think that’s a perfect description!” she said.

“Me, too,” I added. “But how does the winemaker know your mother?”

March 12, 2013 at 7:46 am 1 comment

That Doesn’t Make Cents!

Two bad puns for today…

What’s the difference between an old penny and a new dime? Nine cents!

Why didn’t the quarter roll down the hill with the nickel? Because it had more cents.

And a math problem related to coins:

You have three coins — one is a typical coin with heads on one side and tails on the other. But the other two are strange — one has heads on both sides, and one has tails on both sides. One coin is chosen at random and placed flat on the table. It shows heads. What is the probability that the other side is tails?

Your first instinct may be to think that the probability is 1/2. But it’s not. I won’t give you the actual answer, but here’s a hint — create these “coins” using pieces of paper with H and T. Then try it several thousand times. You’ll see that if the coin shows heads when placed on the table, then the other side will not be heads and tails in equal proportions.

October 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm 2 comments


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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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