« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Harry Reid launches the Democratic war on Math

Harry Reid, the floor leader of the Democrats in the United States Senate, the most influential Democrat in the entire Congress, is innumerate. You see, he not only lacks an understanding of mathematics, apparently having no understanding of what kinds of sample sizes are needed to get an accurate sense of American public opinion, but he is also actively promoting his anti-math viewpoint against statistical, scientific polling.

Innumeracy is a real problem in America, said to be associated with problems like belief in pseudoscience, higher debt, problem gambling, and limited job prospects. Sadly, America is already suffering some of these consequences under the poor leadership of Harry Reid and his party. Since Harry Reid took over the Senate our debt has indeed skyrocketed, thanks in part to the failure of the Harry Reid Senate even to pass a budget at all, America’s job prospects have diminished, and the fad of global warming pseudoscience has continued unabated.

It’s easy to see why Clark County, Nevada wanted to return him to the Senate though, since innumeracy is what keeps the lights on there. I don’t understand why we must endure him as our Senate Majority Leader any more, though. Let’s take the Senate and knock him off in November.

Mathematics is at the heart of science. Millions of students of science all across America learn every day about how confidence intervals are a basic tool in understanding data. The typical Margin of Error cited for a poll is simply a particular way of stating the 95% confidence interval of the data gathered in the survey.

This is a subject from Chapter One of the government’s own Engineering Statistics Handbook, and a subject matter that any serious student of gambling should also know about. It’s shocking that a four-year Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission would not understand the application and limits of variance to random results.

What’s interesting though is that Harry Reid didn’t used to be quite this innumerate. Even though now he claims that relatively small samples are inappropriate for measuring the opinions of “300 million people,” in the past he claimed that as few as 1200 people were enough to tell us popular opinion on SCHIP.

It would be unkind of me to suggest that Harry Reid’s sudden and vocal innumeracy was a dishonest effort motivated by political calculations, so I’ll instead float the idea that Reid suffers from late-onset Dyscalculia.

Get Alerts