Millions, Billions, Zillions

Numbers are impressive, intimidating, confusing, and often deliberately deceptive, especially when they're really big. The media loves to report on millions, billions, and trillions, but frequently makes basic mistakes or presents such numbers in misleading ways. And misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences, since they can deceive us in many of our most important decisions, including how to vote, what to buy, and whether to make a nancial investment. This short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book teaches anyone -- even diehard math-phobes -- how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day.

With examples drawn from a rich variety of sources, including journalism, advertising, and politics, the book demonstrates how numbers can mislead and misrepresent. Chapters covering big numbers, units, dimensions, and more, lay bare everything from deceptive graphs to speciously precise numbers. With a few basic ideas and shortcuts, anyone can learn to recognize common mistakes, determine whether numbers are credible, and make their own sensible estimates when needed.

Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big -- and often bad -- data.


Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Millions, Billions, Zillions
Chapter 3: Big Numbers
Chapter 4: Mega, Giga, Tera, and Beyond
Chapter 5: Units
Chapter 6: Dimensionality
Chapter 7: Milestones
Chapter 8: Specious Precision
Chapter 9: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Chapter 10: Graphical Trickery
Chapter 11: Bias
Chapter 12: Arithmetic
Chapter 13: Estimation
Chapter 14: Self Defense
Further Reading

Return to top