- Posted October 11, 2012 by
Watertown, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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An Arithmetic Question for Paul Ryan On His Budget
Isn't math the language of the Universe?
That's what Jodie Foster, star of the movie, "Contact" had said when she discovered the big booming voice from the heavens.
Then how is it that some people's math results add up to something different than the results everyone else gets?
Is Paul Ryan trying to deceive us about the results his budget will bring or does he really believe what he has said his budget will do?
How do we come to the wrong conclusion about simple math?
"The Nobel Prize–winning economist, Daniel Kahneman, parses the roles of emotion, cognition, and perception in the understanding of business risk.
A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total.
The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
Almost everyone feels the temptation to answer “10 cents” because the sum $1.10 so neatly separates into $1 and 10 cents, and 10 cents seems the right price for a ball (small and light) relative to a bat (big and heavy). In fact, more than half of a group of students at Princeton and at the University of Michigan gave precisely that answer — that wrong answer.
The right answer is: The ball costs a nickel.
“Clearly, these respondents offered their responses without first checking,” observes Daniel Kahneman, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and a professor of public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.
“People are not accustomed to thinking hard and are often content to trust a plausible judgment that comes quickly to mind.”
You might choose to dismiss the baseball query as a trick question.
But the pathological mistakes and the persistent miscalculations smart people make when they’re making up their minds is at the core of Professor Kahneman’s path-breaking research."
So Paul Ryan's not a stupid guy. Far from it. He's just inclined to be over-confident and jumps to faulty conclusions before he actually does the math his budget contains.