How Low Can We Go?

I’m not sure, but this seems like a good candidate for a new bar. According to a recent study out of the University of Washington, as many as half of the population may fail to understand simple probability statements, in the context of weather forecasts.

Here’s the summary:

If, for example, a forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain, many people think it means that it will rain over 20 percent of the area covered by the forecast. Others think it will rain for 20 percent of the time, said Susan Joslyn, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Washington who conducted the study.

Coming out of Washington, one would think that the participants would have a better than average understanding of rain forecasts, but now I certainly hope that’s not the case.

That’s American math education for you. Maybe everyone should just move to LA – at least here, the forecast is the same every day.

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