Columbia Journalism Review

Sorry, Wrong Number

Numerical errors usually occur for one of these five reasons: A journalist mishears a correct number given to them by a source and fails to double-check it. A source unwittingly provides a mistaken piece of information and the journalist fails to verify it. A source deliberately fudges the numbers and the journalist fails to verify them. A journalist or editor miscalculates a figure. A journalist re-reports a mistake made by…

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Journalism by the Numbers (a pedagogical play in one scene) #math

(Lights up on a college journalism classroom. The professor enters, surveys the room.) Professor: Math! Students: (Shocked reaction.) Professor: Math!! Students: (Scattered cries of “No!”) Professor: MATH!!! Students: NO!!!   (Blackout.)   (40 minutes later.)   Professor: So, at the very least when you encounter numbers in your reporting, contact sources who can help you interpret those numbers critically. Seek out a variety of credible views on the provenance and…

What Khan Academy’s Fun, Free Learning Empire Has to Do with Dystopian Social Control

Over the Christmas break, I’ve been churning through Khan Academy math drills, so that I can be a more effective homeschool parent. It’s actually kind of fun watching my score go up, and earning badges. In the way that birds who are trained to peck buttons for food think it’s fun to peck their little beaks bloody. As a grad student ploughing through Kant and Derrida, I found it an intellectual relief to run a computer program through…

How to Lie with Data Visualization

Data visualization is one of the most important tools we have to analyze data. But it’s just as easy to mislead as it is to educate using charts and graphs. In this article we’ll take a look at 3 of the most common ways in which visualizations can be misleading. —Heap Data Blog.

The Value of Failure

Upon reading that recent message from my inbox, I wanted to shout out “let your child fail.” The shouting was not due to frustration, rather to be sure that my voice was heard by many. And when I say fail, I mean fall. Let them fall. How can we learn to get back up if we never fall? Or if someone else always picks us up. Too often today, students…

Students say “math class is stupid and boring,” and they are right. –Mathematician Paul Lockhart

I am working on some conference papers that touch on coding as a liberal art. While reviewing classics, like Stephenson’s In the Beginning Was the Command Line and Knuth’s approach to “Literate Programming,” From the insightful and quirky “A Mathematician’s Lament,” by Paul Lockhart. A musician wakes from a terrible nightmare. In his dream he finds himself in a society where music education has been made mandatory. “We are helping…